Skip Barber: DeGrand Impresses with Double Podium Run in Summer Series Opener

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Tristan DeGrand narrowly missed two wins in the Skip Barber Summer Series opener at VIRginia International Raceway  (Photo: Diana Rice - Skip Barber Racing School) Tristan DeGrand narrowly missed two wins in the Skip Barber Summer Series opener at VIRginia International Raceway (Photo: Diana Rice - Skip Barber Racing School)

The 2012 race season got off to a fine start for junior formula car rising star Tristan DeGrand recently, thanks to a superb double podium effort at VIRginia International Raceway.

The Missouri racer was among the drivers to watch throughout the Skip Barber Summer Series season-opener, battling for top honors in both Round One and Two, before ultimately earning a place on the post-race podium in both affairs via third and second place finishes. DeGrand as a result exits the event currently third in the championship chase in his first full season of car competition.

DeGrand, having successfully made the initial transition to car competition this past winter as a the 2011 Skip Barber Racing School Karting Scholarship Shootout winner via a race-winning limited run in the Skip Barber Winter Series, returned to the cockpit of a pro Skip Barber entry in late April at VIR focused on challenging for top honors in the Skip Barber Summer Series. Showcasing why many view the 16 year-old as a potential racing star, DeGrand wasted little time making his presence felt, posting the second fastest lap in both opening practice runs, despite spending the majority of the sessions getting acclimated to the undulating road course and working on drafting techniques.

The MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Pro Am Golf/ProAmGolfUSA.com/Sparco USA-backed driver was again at the pointy-end of the speedcharts come qualifying. DeGrand was in the mix for the pole position throughout the timed run, and while his two best laps were compromised by slower traffic, his did get a clean lap good enough for third on the timing monitors. After the session, DeGrand was further promoted one more position due to a fellow racer going off-course in the session.

When DeGrand and the rest of Summer Series field rolled back on-course a short time later for race one of the season-opening doubleheader, the stage was set for the former karting champion to battle for the win. DeGrand did not disappoint when the green flag waved, entertaining onlookers with some superb racecraft in a heated three-car fight for the win. With all three combatants having taken a turn out front, it came down to the final tour to determine who would come home with the top honors. DeGrand led the opening half of the final lap, but relinquished the position going down the back straight via the draft. The ProAmGolfUsa.com supported rookie did not give up however, executing a last dash effort down the start/finish straight. Going three-wide at the stripe, DeGrand was ultimately classified third, a mere 0.071 behind the race winner.

Given the performance in race one, confidence was high in the DeGrand cockpit entering Round Two. As expected, when the green flag waved to get the action underway, the fight for the win became a multi-car affair. The Missouri teenager, using the lessons learned from the opening race, not only ensured he was part of the battle for the lead from corner to corner, but in the right position come the final lap of the fast VIR circuit. Getting a great run out of turn 17, DeGrand appeared positioned to grab the lead right at the checkered flag, however, it was not to be, crossing the line an agonizing 0.032s behind in second.

DeGrand with his impressive double podium run at VIR, leaves the season-opening event currently third in the championship standings.

"I thought the opening round of the 2012 Skip Barber Summer Series at VIR was a great learning experience," commented DeGrand. "I was so close to a win in each race, but I will take two podiums to start the season. I am really excited for our next Skip Barber event in Mont Tremblant. I would like to thank Pro Am Golf USA, proamgolfusa.com, Linear Sport, Sparco, Mazda, Skip Barber, and all of my family for the support."

DeGrand will return to Skip Barber Summer Series competition on June 16-17, when Round Five and Six are contested at the picturesque Le Circuit Mont Tremblant in Quebec.

Learn more about Tristan DeGrand at http://www.DeGrandRacing.com and follow the teenager racer on Twitter @ TristanDeGrand

A native of Eureka, Mo., Tristan DeGrand is a 16 year-old up-and coming racer. DeGrand first got behind the wheel in 2003, racing karts locally in the St. Louis area. Within one year he had captured his first championship title, becoming the J1 Speed Regional Series Champion. Making the move up to regional and national competition, DeGrand won numerous races before winning the Florida Winter Tour Cadet title and a World Karting Grand National title in the Cadet class in 2007. Continued success in 2008 resulted in the Stars of Karting Junior Rookie of the Year award. 2009 proved to be breakout year for DeGrand, winning the Florida Winter Tour KF3 title and the KF3 National Championship. The youngster also began racing internationally, earning the FKS England Award exchange KF3 award, before becoming the first American podium finisher in WSK KF3 competition in 2010. Late last year, after winning the 15th annual Skip Barber Racing School Karting Scholarship Shootout, DeGrand made the transition to car competition via the Skip Barber Winter Series, winning once and standing on the podium three times in four races. In 2012, DeGrand is competing in the Skip Barber Summer Series with support from MAZDASPEED, Skip Barber, Pro Am Golf, ProAmGolfUSA.com, and Sparco USA.

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