USRRC: Weaver Crowned 1998 Can-Am Champion
9 September 1998DYSON RACING TOP TEAM, FORD TOP MANUFACTURER
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- James Weaver, of Wiltshire, England, has been crowned the 1998 Can-Am Champion by the United States Road Racing Championship. Dyson Racing and Ford earned the Teams' and Manufacturers' Championships respectively.
Driving the No. 16 Goodyear/Safety Glow/300 Below Zero Riley & Scott Ford, Weaver earned two victories (Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex and the Minneapolis Street Circuit) and two poles (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Minneapolis) en route to accumulating 158 points in the five-race USRRC Can-Am Championship season. Teammate Butch Leitzinger, of State College, Pa., finished second, with 154 points.
"This season was a real credit to Dyson Racing and Pat Smith," said Weaver. "Many of the teams ran Riley & Scott chassis on Goodyear tires with Lozano Ford engines, but Pat's cars were the fastest. I'm very happy with the way this season went. Everyone has their moments to criticize the way things are going, but quite honestly, I'm exactly where I want to be. I enjoy the tracks, the atmosphere and the people in America. I look forward to coming back next year to again run with Rob Dyson's team."
"We would like to congratulate James and the Dyson Racing team on a great inaugural season of racing in the USRRC," said Alan Wilson, General Manager, USRRC. "Pat Smith is to be commended for putting together the winning combination and it's a testament to his teams' talents that James earned the Drivers' title, Dyson the Teams' title and Ford the Manufacturers' title. The season started and ended with some of the greatest racing and storylines in all of racing, and we look forward to more exciting competition beginning with the 37th Rolex 24 At Daytona in February."
Weaver began the season with a third-place finish at the Rolex 24 At Daytona after a fire with two hours remaining ended his run. The classic was won by the Ferrari team of Gianpiero Moretti, Arie Luyendyk, Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys. At Homestead, Weaver and teammate Leitzinger led all but two laps of the two-hour, 15-minute contest to win from the pole (Leitzinger) over the Ferrari of Moretti and Baldi.
Weaver earned his first career pole at Mid-Ohio, and watched teammate Leitzinger lead the first 32 laps of the two-and-a-half hour race. Clutch problems struck the team however, making for long pit stops and handing the lead over to the No. 20 team car of Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Dorsey Schroeder. Forbes-Robinson became the first driver to win a race in both the historic and modern Can-Am eras.
At the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota, the No. 16 car was back in front, with Weaver leading the first 42 laps from his second pole, before handing the car over to Leitzinger, who led the final 30 laps of the one-hour, 45-minute event.
At the First Union Six Hours of the Glen finale, fans were treated to one of the closest races of six hours or more in history, as Weaver and co-drivers Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson narrowly missed out on a Dyson sweep of the final four races, coming up 0.656-second shy of the No. 30 MoKart Ferrari of Moretti, Theys and Baldi. Weaver led 39 laps at Watkins Glen, bringing his total to 126 on the season (1164 possible, 10.8 percent, second). Weaver was the only driver to finish in the top-three at each race this season, and his car completed more laps (1069 out of 1164, 91.8 percent) than any other.
Leitzinger finished with two wins (Homestead, Minneapolis), two seconds and one pole (Homestead) on the season. He finished fourth at the Rolex 24 and earned one fewer pole than Weaver, accounting for the final four-point margin. Leitzinger led all drivers with 254 laps led (1164 possible, 21.8 percent) and was second in laps completed (1068 out of 1164, 91.7 percent).
Elliott Forbes-Robinson, of Sherrils Ford, N.C., finished third in points, with 144, with one win (Mid-Ohio), two seconds, one third and a sixth. Forbes-Robinson's co-driver for the first four races, Dorsey Schroeder, of Little Torch Key, Fla., was fourth in the Championship with 136 points. Schroeder had one win (Mid-Ohio), one second and one pole (Watkins Glen) on the season.
The first non-Dyson Racing driver was Bill Dollahite (No. 88 Arterial Vascular Engineering Ferrari 333 SP). Dollahite amassed 107 points with a top finish of fourth at Minneapolis. Jim Downing (105 points), Henry Camferdam and Scott Schubot (103 points), Baldi (102 points) and Jon B. Field (95 points) completed the top-10 in Drivers' Championship points.
Ford took the Engine Manufacturers' Championship over Ferrari 82 to 68 on the strength of three wins (Homestead, Mid-Ohio and Minneapolis), one second and one third. Ferrari won twice (Daytona and Watkins Glen) and had one second and one third-place finish. Mazda was third (46 points) with a top finish of second at Daytona, followed by Chevrolet (35 points) and Buick (11 points).
Dyson Racing took the Teams' Championship by a 25-point margin over Doran-Moretti Racing (82 to 57). Just as with the Manufacturers' Championship, the Dyson team took three wins (Homestead, Mid-Ohio and Minneapolis), one second and one third. Doran-Moretti Racing contested only three races, winning twice (Daytona and Watkins Glen) and scoring one second. Support Net Racing finished third in the Teams' Championship with 47 points after recording a top finish of third twice (Mid-Ohio and Minneapolis), followed by Downing/Atlanta (46 points) and Intersport Wheel Works Racing (36 points).