Southern Race Series finale – Daytona

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 Before we get into the re-cap of the Southern Race Series finale at Daytona International Speedway, Reck Rotary wanted me to remind everyone that seats are still available for the big Rolex Grand-Am weekend at Watkins Glen International! The date is June 7-10, and our races are open to ANY series driver over the age of 18.

NOTE: These races are also part of the 2007 Masters National Championship.

At this point we’re looking at having pre-event (Thursday) Lapping, plus separate qualifiers for each race.

This is a rare opportunity for our regular Series drivers to race in front of a very large, very appreciative racing crowd, during a professional road racing weekend. Don’t miss out!

After six months and six great race weekends, the 2006-2007 Southern Series wrapped up in the Florida sun on Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56 mile Rolex 24 Hour Course.

Congratulations to this season’s champions: Ricky Taylor (six wins, eleven podium) in Championship, John Potter (five wins, nine podium), in Sportsman, and David Libby (three podium) in Masters.

During the banquet at Daytona USA, we recognized the top 10 overall…
10th was Sportsman runner-up Jeff Oleen, who earned two Sportsman wins and three Championship podium during the season.
9th was Craig Duerson with four wins and four podium
8th was Brent Milner
7th was Masters Champion David Libby
6th with four podium, Julia Landauer
5th went to Sportsman Champ John Potter
4th was Hayden Duerson with three wins and four podium
3rd with one win and four podium was Matt Ferris
and 2nd, behind champion Ricky Taylor, was Josef Newgarden with two wins and seven podium

Your top three in the Southern Series: Ricky Taylor (l), Josef Newgarden (c), and Matt Ferris (r).

The Most Improved Driver award came down between Harsha Sen and John Potter, with Sportsman Champ Potter getting the nod. The Rookie of the Year went to overall Championship runner-up Josef Newgarden on the strength of his two wins and seven podiums on the season.

Jumping into their first Skip Barber Race Weekends were Luciano Roselli, Christopher Allen, Ed Wilkinson and Ben Smith.

In addition, old friend Jim Matthews jumped into his first Race Weekend since Mid-Ohio in 1998, and won both of his races. Welcome back Jim!

Race Control, Timing & Scoring, and Hospitality were expertly handled admirably by Herman, Kelly-Kelly-Kelly, Laurie, Nick-Nick, and new Race Series addition Kerry Mosher. As always, the Southern Skip Barber crew was on top of their game – with congratulations to James Holth, the Mechanic of the Weekend.

See all the photos here

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here

Here are the Southern Region final points standings

And now to the action…

In the immortal words of Nick-Nick, “Matt came here a boy, and he’s going home a HAPPY boy!”

Group 1, Race 1 (Championship)
The benefits of the Hanford device were apparent as there were no less than five lead changes at the stripe, and many more at various points around the track. Chase Patzer, his brother Dean, Paul Arnold, and Ricky Taylor all took turns at the point before an exciting finish where the top five took the checkers within two-tenths of a second. Matt Ferris edged out polesitter Josef Newgarden by .015 seconds for his first Skip Barber Race Series win!

Group 1, Race 2 (Championship)
The Championship drivers put on another great show to get things started Sunday morning. Race 1 winner Matt Ferris led the field down through the tri-oval and the green flag. While David Libby, Chris Oliver and Paul Arnold diced for position mid-pack, a five car breakaway battled for the lead. Ferris, Southern champ Ricky Taylor, Elliott Bachelart and Dean Patzer all took turns up front, with Dean ultimately taking the victory by .034 sec. over Ferris. The front pack was so tight throughout the race that Patzer went from the first to fifth then back to first over the last three laps (and that is just according to scoring at the start/finish line)!

Group 2, Race 1 (Sportsman)
Polesitter Harsha Sen got the jump on his front row mate John Potter at the drop of the green to take the early lead. Behind them, Nick Spencer spun in Turn 2 before being collected by Erik Brumme, putting both drivers out of the race. Daniel Graeff, Scott Panzer and Brian Skinner all battled during the middle part of the race before settling on third through fifth respectively. While that battle played out, Harsha and John ran off and hid from the field, taking turns at the point; each working the draft to their advantage. In the end it was Potter over Sen at the stripe by .071 seconds (!) With the win, John Potter clinched the Southern Race Series Sportsman Championship

Group 2, Race 2 (Sportsman)
Inclement weather delayed the start of Race 2. Once under way it didn’t take long for the action to start as Spencer and Brumme went spinning at the drop of the green. Neither went 4-off and they were able to continue. The damp but drying track threw Harsha Sen a curveball, as he took the early lead only to find himself off in the scenery and in the pits for the mandatory safety check a lap later. From there on it was all John Potter, who picked up the Group 2 sweep with a nine plus second gap to Daniel Graeff. Harsha bounced back from his spin to collect a hard earned third place.

Group 3, Race 1 (Sportsman)
Carl Hober and newcomer Ben Smith shared the front row for the start of Race 1. Carl went 4-off at the start, pitted for his safety check, and continued. Smith and Christopher Allen vied for the early lead before Jim Matthews took the point as his own. Matthews led for most of the race before Ben retook the point on Lap 7. Matthews took the lead back on Lap 8. Contact in Turn 2 between Ben Smith and Christopher Allen sent Smith on his lid, bringing out the black flag. Smith climbed out unharmed (and raring to race on Sunday) while Allen was able to continue after his safety check. The incident set up a green/white/checker finish, with Matthews keeping his late lead over runner-up Scott Panzer and Luciano Roselli, who recovered from an early spin to take the final spot on the winner’s rostrum.

Group 3, Race 2 (Sportsman)
Compared to the excitement in the prior races, Race 2 was relatively uneventful as Race 1 winner Jim Matthews led every lap from pole and took a relatively comfortable four-second victory from Carl Hober, who in turn held off Luciano Roselli by about half a second on the continually drying track Ben Smith came back from his Saturday tumble for a strong fourth place.

Masters Run-off
Ten drivers took the green for the season ending Masters Run-off, which is open to anyone who scored Masters points during the season. After ten laps David Libby took a relatively comfortable win over Dom Bastien and Don Van, who finished a close third.

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial
In addition to his cameo role in the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School , author Kurt Vonnegut penned such literary classics as Slaughterhouse Five, Cat’s Cradle and Breakfast of Champions. You can learn more about Kurt Vonnegut and his works on Wikipedia or at your local library.

A field of 16 took the green flag for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial, with Dean Patzer nipping Matt Ferris at the line by .028 seconds, while brother Chase Patzer completed the podium after a good battle with Doppler Dave.

Hmm…I’m not touching this one.

Next up!
There’s no rest for the wicked, as Toddski and the gang are already on their way to VIR for the combo East/Midwest opener, April 20-22. One week later, the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda is at the same track, supporting the big Rolex Grand-Am pro weekend.

2007 Midwest Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Sept. 28-30, Road America

2007 Eastern Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 12-14, Lime Rock Park
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Oct. 11-13, Lime Rock Park

Here’s a ride down short-term memory lane. Wally leading Divi during their classic shootout at Mont Tremblant back in 2005. Wally bested Divi on that hot August day by 0.137 of a second.

The 2006-2007 Southern finale also marked the last Race Weekend for long time Skip Barber instructor Walt Bohren. Walt is pursuing his passion for sailing as skipper of his catamaran Blue Bayou, running a charter service down in the Caribbean. Good luck Captain Wally; we’re going to miss you!

Jimal Temus

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