Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, won the first of two Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine races at Lime Rock Park today after emerging in the lead on the second lap and holding off the field to power to a two-second win over Mexican Salvador Duran. Raphael Matos crossed the line with just a .005 second gap ahead of Brian Frisselle to take the final spot on the podium. The top three finishers are also the top three in the championship points battle which continues to tighten, with only three races remaining in the season.
Ben Freudenberg finished in fifth position, with polesitter Dominique Claessens holding on to cross the finish line in sixth. David Jurca took seventh, with Zilvinas Oskutis scoring eighth. Abraham Zimroth finished in ninth position ahead of Gerardo Bonilla, who took tenth.
Jaskol took the lead on the second lap, and never looked back, building up a comfortable two second lead, an eternity in Formula Dodge National Championship competition, as he lead every lap but the first. The race behind Jaskol was far from boring, though, as Matos got the bit between his teeth and began to make passes from his sixth starting position. Dominique Claessens, was hoping to convert his pole position into a win, but was dealing with a poor-handling car right from the start of the race.
Claessens' lack of pace only presented opportunities for those behind him, though, as Brian Frisselle made a strong charge from his seventh starting position, battling with Freudenberg, Claessens, D'Agostino, and Jurca as the lead pack of Jaskol, Duran, and Matos built a gap back to fourth position.
In the closing laps, Matos and Duran began to close in on Jaskol while simultaneously fighting for second position, with each driver taking turns at the position. On the final lap, Matos had a strong run down the downhill and went to pass Duran but Duran held his ground, and Matos brought too much entry speed into the equation, forcing him off course in the long right handed first corner. Matos was able to rejoin, but found himself being hounded by Brian Frisselle, who made a lunge at the finish line to make the pass but came up just a foot short in his bid for the podium.
The win is the third of the season for Jaskol, who had never raced at Lime Rock before this weekend.
"The instructors have really helped me out to get up to speed around this track," said Jaskol. "This year has been a bit frustrating to me, since I haven't performed as well as I think I could have, so I really wanted to come into this weekend and dominate. The track is so much fun, and the racing was closer than I expected it to be here. I was happy to see the guys behind me battling, since it gave me the chance to gap them a bit, and that came in handy at the end of the race."
Raphael Matos, who led the championship points battle by thirteen points over Jaskol heading into the race, was philosophical about nearly missing out on a podium finish.
"I just tried to keep my distance at the start, and avoid any crashes, which there were a couple that almost happened right in front of me!" said Matos. "I just ran out of grip trying to get by Salvador for second place, and with the understeer I had in the car, I ended up going off into the grass and losing some time, but this is still ok for the championship for me, and we have another race tomorrow as well, so I'm looking forward to going for a win tomorrow."
The second race of the weekend is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. EST. Full results and story to be posted at www.skipbarber.com.
LIME ROCK PARK
FORMULA DODGE NATIONAL
August 15, 2003