At Barber Motorsports Park in rounds seven and eight of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden came home the victors, both of them coming off wins last month in rounds five and six at Mosport. Daly's Saturday win came in a closely fought battle – typical for the Skip Barber National – over Conner De Phillippi and Fabio Orsolon, while Newgarden's Sunday win over Daly was by the largest margin – 7.990 seconds – in two seasons, with Orsolon again taking third. Felipe Polehetto, the championship leader coming into the weekend, finished fourth in both races and now sits second, three points behind new leader Newgarden. ''Newgy'' had also taken pole for both races, each worth a point.
In race one, Newgarden kept his pole advantage and led the first three laps over second-starting Polehtto and Daly, who had gridded fourth but passed Stevan McAleer going into the Turn Five hairpin on the first lap. The top seven cars were all within a car length or less of each other so there was no expectation of it remaining status quo for long. Indeed, at the start of lap four Polehtto sliced underneath Newgarden going into One, but four corners later – the Hairpin – Newgarden got the lead back, with both Daly and Orsolon also diving underneath Polehtto. And Daly wasn't done, as moments later he made a brave pass on Newgarden in the fast and hairy Turn 11-Turn 12 complex.
The next lap Polehtto took P3 away from Orsolon, who now had McAleer on his gearbox, but one lap later, Polehtto got trained by both Orsolon and McAleer.
Now it's the beginning of lap seven, and the order is Daly, Newgarden, Orsolon, McAleer, De Phillippi and Sean Rayhall, a star in Skip Barber Regional making his first National start. This pack comes flying up to the Hairpin, with second-place Newgy's mirrors filled with Orsolon. Newgarden stayed on the racing line while Orsolon out-braked him by a small margin and got inside. Newgy tried to give Orsolon room, but it wasn't enough. Orsolon tried to keep the car pinched down but to no avail and the two touched. Not a big one, but enough to send Newgarden around and whoa-ing up the pack behind him. By the time Newgy got back underway he was outside the top 10. If Newgarden was the big loser in the Hairpin dust-up, De Phillippi was the biggest winner as he went from sixth to third.
From this point on, it was a mad dice for second place between Orsolon and De Phillippi, though they never lost touch with Daly. But Daly was cruising on confidence from his breakthrough win at Mosport and coolly led the remaining eight laps to take his second victory of the year. Two laps from the end, De Phillippi got around Orsolon for second, while Polehtto was closing over the final laps but ran out of time and finished fourth, six seconds up on McAleer and Rayhall. Newgarden did well to recover to seventh at the checker, with Hayden Duerson, Victor Carbone and Lee Carpentier rounding out the top 10.
By Skip Barber National standards, the weekend's second race was, well, a bit of a snore. Not from Newgarden's perspective, of course. (''When you're racing hard lap after lap, there's no time to get nervous,'' Newgarden said. ''When you're running alone up front… well, I felt more nervous than I did at the start!'') Newgarden had gapped second place to the tune of a second a lap and by lap six he was off in the distance, as the guys behind him – Daly, Orsolon, McAleer, Polehtto and De Phillippi -- let Newgy get away in their insistence on dicing madly over P2. Eventually, Daly got the position and separated himself but by then Newgarden was long gone. Orsolon consolidated third but there remained a bit of drama over the rights to fourth place. On the last lap, McAleer pulled up alongside De Phillippi on the run from the Hairpin to Seven. Officials saw De Phillippi crowd McAleer nearly into the grass as the two approached the turn-in. The inevitable contact got them both sideways and all crossed up, handing fourth to Polehtto. De Phillippi recovered quickly and finished the lap in fifth, ahead of Duerson and McAleer, but the incident earned De Phillippi the time penalty associated with a stop-and-go (25 seconds) and was thus classified 11th.
There was also a bit of remarkable sportsmanship seen on that last lap. In the torrid battle between Dom Bastien and Peter Tucker for Masters Division honors, Tucker tried a move two corners from the checker to try to get around Bastien. The attempt resulted in Bastien being shoved off the road. Tucker knew he was in the wrong; indeed, he would be penalized by the officials for violating the avoidable-contact rule. But Tucker fixed the problem the right way, right away -- he virtually stopped his car before start-finish in order to let Bastien by for the win... With the absence of three-time race winner Gabby Chaves from the race weekend, the championship table now sees the top four drivers within a barely measurable nine points, with Newgarden on top over Polehtto, Orsolon and Daly. Duerson and McAleer remain within a race-win of the points lead. And coming up next on the schedule is a track that always produces incredibly close SBN races, Road America, August 9-10.
Results, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
July 19, 2008, round 7 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by MazdaBarber Motorsports Park, 15-turn, 2.3-mile road course(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (3) Conor Daly, Noblesville, Ind., 15 laps, 83.221 average mph2. (5) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 15 laps3. (6) Fabio Orsolon, Brazil, 154. (2) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 155. (4) Steven McAleer, Scotland, 156. (8) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 157. (1) Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 158. (7) Hayden Duerson, St. Petersburg, Fla., 159. (9) Victor Carbone, Brazil, 1510. (12) Lee Carpentier, New Canaan, Conn., 1511. (14) Mark Bumgarner, Philippines, 1512. (10) Ben Searcy, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1513. (11) Nick Tonkin, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, 1514. (16) Gustavo Linares, Venezuela, 1515. (13) Victor Pedrosa, Brazil, 1516. 1M (15) Peter Tucker, Dallas, Texas, 1517. 2M (18) Jose Pulido, Colombia, 1518. 3M (17) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 13
Race length: 15 laps of 2.3-mile road course for 34.5 milesTime of race: 24 minutes, 50.617 secondsConditions: Sunny and hotMargin of victory: 0.987 secondsLap leaders: Newgarden 1 - 3; Daly 4 - 15Cautions: NoneFastest qualifier: Newgarden, 1:36.698 / 85.627 mphFastest race lap: Polehtto, 1:37.794 / 84.667 mph, lap 15
July 20, 2008, round 8 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by MazdaBarber Motorsports Park, 15-turn, 2.3-mile road course(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 15 laps, 83.702 average mph2. (4) Conor Daly, Noblesville, Ind., 15 laps3. (5) Fabio Orsolon, Brazil, 154. (2) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 155. (7) Hayden Duerson, St. Petersburg, Fla., 156. (3) Steven McAleer, Scotland, 157. (12) Victor Pedrosa, Brazil, 158. (11) Lee Carpentier, New Canaan, Conn., 159. (8) Nick Tonkin, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, 1510. (13) Mark Bumgarner, Philippines, 1511. (6) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 1512. (9) Ben Searcy, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1513. (15) Victor Carbone, Brazil, 1514. (10) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 1515. 3M (17) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 1516. 2M (18) Jose Pulido, Colombia, 1517. 1M (16) Peter Tucker, Dallas, Texas, 1518. (14) Gustavo Linares, Venezuela, 0 (crash)
Race length: 15 laps of 2.3-mile road course for 34.5 milesTime of race: 24 minutes, 43.822 secondsConditions: Sunny and hotMargin of victory: 7.990 secondsLap leaders: Newgarden 1 - 15Cautions: NoneFastest qualifier: Newgarden, 1:36.852 / 85.491 mphFastest race lap: Daly, 1:37.477 / 84.943 mph, lap 2De Phillippi crossed the finish line fifth but penalized 25 seconds for blockingRayhall crossed the finish line 10th but penalized 25 seconds for avoidable contactTucker crossed the finish line 16th but penalized 25 seconds for avoidable contact
2008 Skip Barber National points standings after 8 of 14 rounds, top 15 drivers:1. Josef Newgarden, 2282. Felipe Polehtto, 2253. Fabio Orsolon, 2234. Conor Daly, 2195. Hayden Duerson 1876. Stevan McAleer, 1837. Gabby Chaves, 1648. Connor De Phillippi, 1629. Nick Tonkin, 14310. Mark Bumgarner, 14211. Lee Carpentier, 13912. Peter Tucker, 11413. Dom Bastien, 11314 Victro Pedrosa, 10415. Chris Holmes, 99