Barber Motorsports Park provided the location for some of the season’s best racing as Connor De Phillippi extended his points lead and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development driver Court Vernon capitalized on his twin poles to earn his first Skip Barber National victory.
Saturday’s Race 1 quickly turned into a four-car break away, with the top four qualifiers; Court Vernon, De Phillippi, Felipe Polehtto and Kyle Marcelli pulling away from the pack to fight for the lead amongst themselves. Lap after lap, the quartet passed and re-passed each other; using the draft and their momentum to briefly gain advantage before surrendering falling back into the group.
All this jockeying for the lead allowed Stevan McAleer to catch up to the lead pack. McAleer, running on a limited budget and with limited seat time, started eighth, but quickly started picking off competitors on his way to the front. By lap 9 he was up to the back of the lead pack.
At the white flag, Court Vernon held the lead over Felipe Polehtto with Connor De Phillippi in third and Kyle Marcelli and McAleer behind him. Coming around for the checkers the quintet had shuffled, with De Phillippi getting around Vernon for the win, followed closely by McAleer, Marcelli and Polehtto; all five drivers covered by less than a second at the stripe. Julian Albaracin and Michael Vincec had their best results so far this season with a sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Isaac Lyons and Dennis Trebing, with Sage Karam rounding out an exciting top 10.
Officially, nine lead changes were scored during the 15-lap race, but an unofficial count had the number of lead changes in the 40’s.The final race on the Barber Motorsports Park weekend card began with Court Vernon and Connor De Phillippi on the front row. Learning their lessons from Race 1, where early racing for the lead allowed the field to stay close, the duo worked together early to gap the second group which included Kyle Marcelli, Felipe Polehtto, Sage Karam and Michael Vincec, and a third group with Stevan McAleer (who started shotgun on the field after missing qualifying), Isaac Lyons and Ashley Freiberg.
From then on it was a matter of who was going to make the final pass for the lead and when. The final pass came on in Turn 11 on the final lap, and it was Court Vernon who made the winning move. Vernon, who led all but two laps at the stripe, actually battled tooth and nail with De Phillippi for point in the later stages of the race. In the end, Vernon crossed the line a quarter of a second ahead of Connor De Phillippi, with Felipe Polehtto three seconds back in third, leading a second group to the finish that included Sage Karam , Kyle Marcelli and Michael Vincec (his best results to date coming this weekend). Stevan McAleer made it as far as seventh, ahead of Isaac Lyons and Ashley Freiberg with Julian Albaracin in 10th.
The win was the first for Vernon, the 2008 Skip Barber Eastern Race Series Champion in Skip Barber National competition.
With a win and a second on the weekend, De Phillippi adds to his lead in the championship over Polehtto and Vernon. The Skip Barber National resumes the weekend of August 21-23 at Wisconsin’s Road America, headlining a card that includes the Skip Barber Summer Race Series and Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge.