SBN: Megenbier, Taylor Fire Opening Salvos

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What a typical Skip Barber National race start looks like. This is race one, on Thursday.

SEBRING, Fla. (March 16) – Timmy Megenbier and Ricky Taylor each left Sebring International Raceway with first-place hardware in the opening two rounds of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. Both races saw multiple lead changes, sometimes two and three per lap, due in part to the introduction this year of Handford Devices on the Skip Barber Formula 2000 race cars. The depth of talent in this year’s championship had something to do with it, too.

In the first race Megenbier spun from the lead on the first lap, falling to 18th. But the 15-year-old pushed his way back to the lead, slicing past six cars on one lap following a late-race re-start. Jeff Oleen made a last lap effort that fell just .087 short while 2007 Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out winner Beau Debard, the polesitter, came third, a car length behind Oleen.

Timmy Megenbier says he’s now getting comfortable with the Skip Barber Formula 2000 and hopes to run up front all year.

In the weekend’s second race, Taylor, Megenbier, Debard, Kyle Lawrence, and Joel Miller, the Snap-on Stars of Karting/Skip Barber Scholarship winner, put on a clinic of how you make two-, three- and even four-wide racing through the corners work, Taylor eventually coming out on top, with Miller and Oleen second and third, respectively.

Megenbier, who had also earned sponsorship in the Karting Shoot-out two months ago, said of his first lap spin: ‘‘I just went into 13 too hot! I went back to throttle to try to settle the rear but I went around. I just tried to stay calm, I passed a bunch of cars, then we got the yellow, which was great for me.’’ On his end of race charge: ‘‘I got the re-start perfect! I had momentum, plus guys were battling and getting high and loose and I took advantage and went from eighth to first.’’

Because of dicey weather and a damp track, the second race was run on BFG’s treaded g-Force tires rather than the slicks that were on the cars in race one. Taylor, one of Wayne Taylor’s two young sons racing in the Skip Barber series (the other, Jordan, is entered into one of Barber’s regional championships this year), took advantage of his extra experience on those tires – he had spent last year racing in Barber’s Regional Series, which uses the treaded tires only. ‘‘I’m still not getting to the limit of the slicks,’’ Taylor said, ‘‘but I’m real comfortable on the treads. During the race, I was getting passed on the straights and re-taking the lead in the corners. Then I figured out I needed to make the passes on the straight and it was then easier to hold the lead.’’

In the Masters Division, Dick Lippert’s two ninth places has him in the points lead with 70. Jeff Kaiser finished 10th and 12th and sits second (64 points) while Stephen Kalogridis is third with 58.

Oleen’s double-podium weekend has him in the points lead, 1 up on Taylor, 2 up on Miller (who was fourth in the second race) and 3 to the good on Megenbier, who was in third place in the second race with three laps to go when he fell off the road in Turn 10 but recovered to finish seventh.

Next up is VIR April 26-29, supporting the Grand-Am Rolex VIR 400. Last year, Lawrence finished a competitive sixth and seventh in the two races (and was fourth in the final points standings). The only Skip Barber National weekend Taylor entered last year was at VIR and in the first race, on treads in a wet race, Taylor got a fifth place. On the slicks in Sunday’s race, he finished 15th…

More photos following the results and points below…

Results, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda

March 15, 2007, round 1 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Sebring International Raceway, 17-turn, 3.7-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (2) Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, Ill., 8 laps, 73.727 mph average speed
2. (6) Jeff Oleen, Bethesda, Md., 8 laps
3. (1) Beau Debard, Verdi, Nev., 8
4. (3) Joel Miller, Hesperia, Calif., 8
5. (8) Kyle Lawrence, Fort Gratiot, Mich.
, 8 6. (4) Ricky Taylor, Apopka, Fla., 8
7. (7) Tyler Dueck, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, 8
8. (5) Steven McAleer, Glasgow, Scotland, 8
9., 1M (15), Dick Lippert, Wichita, Kan., 8
10. (19) Juan Carlos Sistos, Mexico, 8
11. (9) Carlos Llano, Colombia, 8
12., 2M (11), Jeff Kaiser, Santa Clara, Calif., 8
13., 3M (13), Dom Bastien, New Canaan, Conn., 8
14. (17), A.J. Riley, Wilton, Conn., 9
15. (18), Juan Pablo Contreras, Guatemala, 8
16. (14), Julien Gerbi, Nice, France, 8
17. (20), Ben Searcy, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 8
18. (16), Taz Smith, Jacksonville, Fla., 8
19. (22), Lee Carpentier, Great River, L.I., N.Y., 8
20. (21), Brandon August, Corona, Calif., 8
21. (23), Frederic Greiling, Paris, France, 8
22. (24), Greg Berdette, Argentina, 8
23. (12), Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 8
24. (10), Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 8
25., 4M (25), Stephen Kalogridis, New Port Richey, Fla., 2 (accident)

Race length: 8 laps of 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course for 29.6 miles
Time of race: 24 minutes, 05.331 seconds
Conditions: Overcast
Margin of victory: 0.087 seconds
Lap leaders: Miller 1-2; Debard 3-6; Megenbier 7-8
Cautions: 1, for 2 laps (5-6)
Fastest qualifier: Debard, 2:25.928 / 91.278 mph
Fastest race lap: Megenbier, 2:26.385 / 90.993 mph, lap 4

March 16, 2007, round 2 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Sebring International Raceway, 17-turn, 3.7-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (1) Taylor, 9 laps, 73.727 mph average speed
2. (9) Miller, 9 laps
3. (6) Oleen
4. (3) Debard
5. (13) Riley
6. (10) McAleer
7. (4) Megenbier
8. (14) Gore
9., 1M (12) Lippert
10., 2M (11) Kaiser
11. (15) Sistos
12. (2) Lawrence
13. (21) Llano
14. (18) Contreras
15. (17) Smith
16. (20) Carpentier
17. (7) Gerbi
18. (22) Greiling
19. (8) Dueck
20. (23) Berdette
21., 3M (24) Kalogridis, 2 laps (accident)
22., 4M (16) Bastien, 3 (crash)
23. (19) Searcy, 3 (crash)
24. (5) Newgarden, 1 (brakes)

Race length: 9 laps of 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course for 33.3 miles
Time of race: 25 minutes, 06.680 seconds
Conditions: Sunny
Margin of victory: 3.049 seconds
Lap leaders: Taylor, 1-9
Cautions: 1, for 2 laps (5-6)
Fastest qualifier: Taylor, 2:28.670 / 89.594 mph
Fastest race lap: Lawrence, 2:28.978 / 89.409 mph, lap 4

2007 Skip Barber National points standings, top 15 drivers:
1. Jeff Oleen, 62
2. Ricky Taylor, 61
3. Joel Miller, 60
4. Timmy Megenbier, 59
5. Beau Debard, 59
6. Stevan McAleer, 48
7. Kyle Lawre4nce, 47
8. A.J. Riley, 43
9. Juan Carlos Sistos, 43
10. Carlos Llano, 40
11. Tyler Dueck, 38
12. Juan Pablo Contreras, 35
13. Jonathan Gore, 31
14. Taz Smith, 31
15. Julien Gerbi, 31

Turn 17 in the first qualifying session, from Jim Pace’s Cessna 182 taildragger. First two cars: Timmy Megenbier in the red car, with Beau Debard in the blue car behind him.

As part of the Skip Barber ethos that aims to prepare drivers for all facets of what it means to be a successful driver, seminars and clinics are part of the Skip Barber National ”package.” At Sebring, we asked Danny Sullivan to impart his wisdom and experience…

Ricky Taylor qualified fourth and finished sixth on Thursday, then took pole and won on Friday.

With much less experience than the frontrunners, Karting Shoot-out winner Beau Debard impressed: He took the pole for Thursday’s race and came home P3, then started third and finished fourth on Friday.

Joel Miller proved he’ll be a contender, taking a fourth and a third in the ultra-competitive Sebring races.

Dick Lippert (#41) and Jeff Kaiser had two ferocious battles for Masters Division honors, Lippert coming out on top both times. Kaiser would likely have had the win on Friday were it not for the FCY on laps 5 and 6.

Dom Bastien podiumed on Thursday but got “run over!” at the Hairpin on Friday.

France’s Julien Gerbi has FBMW and F3 experience, but it took him a few sessions to dial in his SBF2000. When he did, Gerbi qualified seventh for race two.

Josef Newgarden qualified well for both races (10th and fifth) but was sidelined both times by a mystery brake issue.

Kyle Lawrence was deep in the frontrunning mix in both races. Friday, he had to pinch the car to avoid a turning-in Debard in Turn 17 and spun.

The Masters podium on Thursday: P2 Jeff Kaiser (l.), winner Dick Lippert (c.) and third place Dom Bastien.

Ricky Taylor celebrates his race two win, flanked by third place Jeff Oleen (l.) and Joel Miller.

Steve Kalogridis (#26) and Tyler Dueck during Wednesday practice.

Rick Roso; photos by Roso & S. Tilghman

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