Barrett Scores Another Double Victory, Seals Championship at Infineon

Sonoma, Calif. (September 23, 2007) - by Jeremy Shaw

Infineon Raceway rates as a happy hunting ground for Patrick Barrett.

In 2006, the talented teenager won the Formula Russell Championship, based at the wine country venue, and romped to an impressive double victory on his debut in the Pacific F2000 Championship

One year on, Barrett, 18, from Los Osos on the central California coast, showed no mercy on the Pacific F2000 field as he returned to score two more handsome race wins, each time from the pole, with PR1 Motorsports' #3 Jim Russell Racing School/Alpinestars Van Diemen. The double triumph was enough to clinch the championship title with two races still remaining.

"Accomplishing what I did here this weekend is a great feeling," said Barrett. "These wins are very special to me because of the history I have here from the Jim Russell Racing Schools. Also, this is where I competed in and won my first Pacific F2000 events last year so I was really motivated to perform well here again."

Barrett's task in Saturday's race was eased when PR1 teammate Thomas Merrill, who had qualified second, lost control and crashed his #81 Merrill Farms/The Don Chapin Company/Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle Van Diemen on the formation lap.

Fellow rookie (and Jim Russell School graduate) Jeff Westphal, 21, from San Carlos, Calif., inherited the position and left the rest of the field firmly in his wake as he chased gamely after Barrett to emerge with the best finish of his young career.

"The car was good," said Westphal of his #39 MCGC/DG Flooring/Team G.FRO Van Diemen. "The team did a great job. You always want to win but I'm pretty happy with second place."

Teammate Philip Metzger (#29 G.FRO/Phoebe Hair/Sovereign Energy Van Diemen), from Littleton, Colo., finished third after a race-long battle with young New Zealander Mitchell Cunningham (#99 Windward Properties/Robert Cunningham Construction/Sniper Systems Van Diemen) and Arizonan Chris Spreitzer (#7 BWM Engineering/Anglo American Racing Van Diemen). Spreitzer made a bold bid for fourth place on the final turn of the final lap, only to lose out by a mere fraction in the dash for the finish line.

Chuck Hulse, in a third Team G.FRO Van Diemen, won both the Nordskog Hard Charger Award and the Masters class (for drivers aged 51 and older) following a magnificent drive from last on the grid (following an engine problem in qualifying) to sixth. Ex-pat Briton James Hakewill (#88 ARC International Van Diemen) won the Expert class (for drivers over 35), despite losing three places due to increasing oversteer in the closing stages.

Sunday's race saw another clinic from Barrett, who stormed to a two-second lead on the opening lap and then controlled his advantage en route to his seventh win of the year.

Merrill, from Salinas, Calif., rebounded strongly from his dismal Saturday to finish a clear second ahead of Westphal, who secured his fifth podium finish of the season and vaulted from fourth in the point standings to second - and top rookie - with just two races remaining at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next month.

"I was trying to stay with the PR1 cars at the beginning but on cold tires they're very stable and it was really tough to stay with them," said Westphal.

Hulse (#19 Silicon Salvage/Team G.FRO Van Diemen), from Yorba Linda, Calif., finished fourth and won the Masters class for the seventh straight time following an exciting back-and-forth battle with Cunningham.

"I wasn't willing to go flat through Turn 10 on cold tires, so that's when Mitchell got past me," related the veteran, who repaid the favor with a clean pass at Turn Seven on Lap 5.

Cunningham earned the Wine Country Motorsports Outstanding Performance Award for his pair of top-five finishes on his first-ever visit to the challenging 2.52-mile road course.

Metzger looked set for sixth until tangling with a lapped car on the final circuit.

Hakewill again won the Expert category following his eighth-place finish, while fellow Expert Bob Negron, from San Jose, Calif., took the Nordskog Hard Charger Award after rising from 15th on the grid to 10th in his #17 Fengshui5.com Van Diemen.

Thomas Merrill, Patrick Barrett, Jeff Westphal


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