The wide, banked turns of California Speedway were the great equalizer in Formula Dodge Western Race Series action last weekend.

Many drivers were aided by the draft in making charges from the back of the pack and the series’ frontrunners all encountered stiff opposition on the 3.0-mile combination oval/road course.

John Knudsen, who also produced three second-place finishes, ended Ryan Howe’s seven-race victory streak on Saturday, edging the points leader by a mere .166 seconds. Christian Szymczak twice got the best of series runner-up Patrick Long, recording convincing wins on both Saturday and Sunday.

The wholesale swapping of positions began in the first race on Saturday, where J.J. Fischer came from sixth to beat Knudsen and Davy Cook. Cook, who entered the weekend third in points, came back to nip Knudsen by .703 seconds on Sunday with Damian Della-Santina occupying the third spot. Kent Lebo drove from 14th to fourth to pick up the Masters Division victory. Leland Barron won the Masters race on Saturday in Group 1.

Brian Angen was the class of Group 2. Angen beat Tommy Contino and Peter Ponder-Pistor on Saturday. Tom Atherton barely missed a podium spot, trailing Ponder-Pistor by less than half a second, after starting 13th. Lester Quam and Tim Traver, who started 12th, were Angen’s closest pursuers on Sunday. Masters victories went to Ponder-Pistor and Quam.

After losing to Knudsen on Saturday, Howe got back on track pulling away for an easy victory Sunday. Aurelio Lopez took third in the first race and Brian Johnson grabbed the final podium position on Sunday.

Szymczak could do little wrong in Group 4, leading all but one lap in his two victories. Contino, in his first race weekend of the season, and Fred Rasch, in his best finish of the year, split third-place honors. Steve Sylvester and Richard Smith-Allen took home the Masters victories.

The Western Race Series will return to action on March 11-12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

-Roy Hasty