The Formula Renault Winter Invitational not only provided the opportunity for teams and drivers to tune up for the 2004 North American Formula Renault Championship season, but it also proved to be very lucrative as well, with a prize purse of well over $150,000 in value being distributed at the season ending banquet, held at the beautiful Keys Gate golf resort facility in Homestead.Formula Renault Winter Invitational Champion Junior Strous left the event with the largest grin after pocketing his check for $40,000 for his championship effort. Strous’ smile was bolstered from his experience earlier in the day at the helm of the Formula Renault V6 test laps he won as part of the comprehensive prize package for the series. Strous was awarded five Formula Renault V6 laps for taking the fastest lap of the day at the first promoter test day, held in advance of the opening round race in Sebring, and continued to add to that total during the season with his collection of poles (4) and wins (3) providing him with the chance to take over seventy laps in the powerful V6.In addition to his cash and test lap awards, Strous also scored with certificates from Guyons Performance Centers totaling $5,500. Guyons is the official supply and service provider for the Formula Renault Winter Invitational, providing all tire services for the teams, as well as serving on-site to insure a full stock of Formula Renault parts are available during every race weekend. Strous is still weighing his options for the 2004 summer season, and knowing he has a significant credit for crucial parts and tires for the summer series might prove helpful for the likeable young Dutchman.Eurointernational’s Juan Ponte finished second in the championship standings on the strength of his speed and consistency, only finishing outside of the top four once, with three podium appearances. Ponte netted $25,000 for his efforts, with round two winner Gustavo Sondermann scoring his own $20,000 check for his third place finish. Sondermann, who finished just over one car length behind the thrilling battle for the win in round five (just .013 of a second separated winner Strous and second place finisher Dan McMullen), was overjoyed with his Winter Invitational season with Gelles Racing and taking the big check was the icing on the cake for the birthday boy.The North American Formula Renault Championships are sanctioned by Grand American, and provide a ladder for drivers to develop their talent, with a full in-house open-wheel progression available. The Formula Renault V6 Championship is the top rung on the North American Formula Renault Championship ladder, which also includes the North American Formula Renault 1600 Championship and the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship. The Formula Renault V6 is expected to make its North American competition debut in the latter stages of the North American Formula Renault 2000 season.