For Immediate Release



LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 21, 2003) – It was Mark Jareko’s race to lose. Coming into the 2003 SCCA National Championship Valvoline Runoffs® D Sports Racer event, Jaremko, of Spokane, Wash., had qualified well ahead of everyone else in the field and early on in the race, looked unbeatable.

But after jumping out to an early big advantage of the opening green and then again after an early full-course yellow, Jaremko’s times slowly rose and his lead disappeared as it was eventual third place finisher Mark Bakhit challenging him early before backing off and then silver trophy winner Matthew Direnzo coming within four car lengths on lap 17.

But in the end, Jaremko, in his Jaremko Nissan Saab Stohr 03D BPS pulled away for his second consecutive DSR National Championship, winning by a final margin of 4.346 seconds at an average lap speed of 81.888 mph.

"It was not easy. I got worried when I saw Matt and Mark in my mirrors,” Jaremko said. “The car was working perfectly, but the yellow situation caused me to lose ground.

”I got held up by a slow car in another yellow area. I had to slam on my brakes and almost got hit by them. Then a few laps later it happened again! Fortunately, I was able to pull away each time. Things went smoothly from then on. It was fantastic."”

Direnzo, of Medford, N.J., made the late push after dropping from his second starting spot into third during the middle of the race. His Stohr 03D had Jaremko within throwing distance, but just long enough to watch him pull away.
“I got away clean and ran well until a confusing full course yellow.,” Direnzo said. “After that it was a huge fight with Mark. We were bumper to bumper for several laps, then the last two laps we were mostly side by side. I finally got into second about two turns from the finish."

Bakhit slingshot his way from sixth up to second off the opening green in his Stohr DSR with a fantastic jump. But after turning some of the race’s fastest lap times early on, the car wore down just enough that Bakhit ended up with the bronze after a last lap battle for second with Direnzo.

“The handling wasn't right and I developed a severe push about half way through,” Bakhit said. “The rear brakes and tires overheated. I was just happy to finish."

Bakhit’s race almost did not happen. His Goodyear/PolarAirCrg/Yoshimura Stohr DSR caught fire in the back during qualifying earlier in the week and had to be extinguished as it sat on the front straight. Through help from other crews, the car was able to be rebuilt in time for Sunday’s race.