SBRS: Road America race notes

Jaskol and Matos rule Road America The Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine convened this weekend at Road America for rounds eight and nine with the top five drivers in the championship standings separated by just...

Jaskol and Matos rule Road America

The Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine convened this weekend at Road America for rounds eight and nine with the top five drivers in the championship standings separated by just twenty points, or one race win, as the drivers battle for the opportunity to win lucrative scholarships to propel them up the Barber CART Scholarship Ladder.

Sebring round pole sitter Rafael Matos made the most of rounds six and seven at Mosport, taking two race wins to launch himself to the top of the championship standings, but with just three points ahead of Mexico's Salvador Duran, Matos knows that every point is crucial. The weekend was the second visit to Road America of the season for the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, and utilized the full course layout which spawned some extremely close racing as the hungry field fought for every position all weekend.

Salvador Duran, who won the two previous rounds at Road America, picked up where he left off and took the pole position for the first race. Duran led the opening laps with Philippe Gelinas giving chase ahead of Matos. The race went yellow after Sergey Shleikin tried to make too much of an opportunity that wasn't there, attempting a bold move in turn five, and making contact with David Jurca and Ricky Schmidt. Jurca and Shleikin were out of the race, with Schmidt giving it a go again before pulling out of the race after just five laps with damage.

Duran, Gelinas, and Matos took turns leading laps, with the three running in a tight train all around the circuit as Duran headed the pack as they took the white flag. On the final lap, Matos took the lead in Turn 1 and Duran and Gelinas both went for the lead, going inside of Matos to make it three wide into turn five. Matos recognized that there wasn't enough room, and let the two by, demonstrating a growing maturity in the young Brazilian. Duran and Gelinas got by cleanly, but when Duran braked too late and drove across Gelinas into the gravel trap Gelinas had to back out of the throttle, and allowed Matos to resume the lead spot, which he held on to until the checkered flag, edging out to his widest margin of the race with a gap of nearly two seconds as Gelinas followed him for second place. Matt Jaskol took the final podium position after working his way steadily up from the fourteenth starting position after besting Gerardo Bonilla for third.

"That was some of the most exciting racing I have been involved with since the first round in Sebring," said Bonilla. "Frisselle, D'Agostino, Jaskol, and I were fighting all over. This track is so much fun, especially in cars that are this even giving everyone a shot at everyone else. Jaskol did an unbelievable job to work his way up through the pack, and while I was hoping to hold him off on the last lap for third, there was no keeping him back and he finally got me. I hate losing the position, but I loved the racing!"

The second race of the weekend would prove to provide even more entertainment than the first, as the finish was one of the closest in series history, while the battle up front was only one of several throughout the field. Matos led the field to the green flag, but was bested for the lead by the end of the first lap by Gelinas. Gelinas held the point for two laps before Matt Jaskol, on a hot streak in Elkhart Lake, took the lead under braking for turn five three laps later Gelinas damaged his front wing and started to drop back and Duran started to move up bringing Ben Freudenberg with him. The top three Jaskol, Duran and Matos began to break away from the rest of the field, building a gap of nearly three seconds, an eternity in Formula Dodge competition, over the fourth place runner Ben Freudenberg.

Battles raged throughout the pack as well, as a three-way battle for fourth developed between Joe D'Agostino, Gelinas, and Freudenberg, with Zilvinas Oskutis moving up to join the fray for several laps.

Salvador Duran tried to remind the field that he thought of Road America as his own, and held off Jaskol and Matos, both of whom were harassing the young Mexican at every turn, for several laps as the lead three crossed the line for the white flag.

For the second race of the weekend, the lead was not the place to be on the white flag lap, as Jaskol, Duran, and Matos exchanged the lead one more time, each taking turns at different corners, before the threesome staged a drag race up the long final straight to cross the line three wide. Jaskol, who thrived in the often six-wide battles in Sebring on his way to his first win in National competition in the season-opening race, did so again as he crossed the finish line just inches ahead of Duran, with Matos right along side.

A mere .119 seconds separated the first three finishers, with a scant .022 of a second between first and second place. The racing wasn't only up front, though, as positions seven through eleven finished within one second of each other.

"This was a fantastic race weekend for the National competitors," commented Series Director Divina Galica. "The points battle is certainly going to be interesting with so many drivers having the chance to take the title, its anybody's guess who will take it. These drivers are really learning a lot about racecraft, and about racing, its like a shark tank out there, but they will all emerge from the series and be better racers for it."

The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine will race next at Lime Rock Park on the weekend of August 14th .

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last years champion, Grant Maiman, who is competing this summer in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull Formula One Drivers search, to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who made his first Champ Car World Series start last month in St. Petersburg, Florida. Other graduates include 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger, 2002 FF2000 Champion Brian Sellars, and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser, Scott Proirier, Leo Maia, and Colin Fleming.

The 2003 Championship again features a field deep in talent comprised of champions from lower formulae and karting. Raphael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, secured his Barber-Champ Car Scholarship at Sebring last December in the Formula Dodge National Run-Off, and is hoping to convert this opportunity into a championship. The young Brazilian was quickest in every session during the event, and is hoping to keep the pace up through the 2003 season. Four other drivers in the field are also members of the Barber-Champ Car Scholarship program, as Joe D'Agostino of Plantation, FL, Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, NV, and David Jurca of Federal Way, WA all secured a funded ride in the 2003 Formula Dodge Championship after impressing in the Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Run-Off in January.

Skip Barber Racing School is the world's leading provider of automotive education and entertainment. With five base locations in Connecticut, Florida, California, and Wisconsin, Skip Barber operates at over twenty tracks nationwide. The Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler, Michelin North America, and Quaker State are key strategic partners for the company. NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500 Champion and Champ Car Champion Juan Montoya, and legend Michael Andretti are but three graduates to have emerged from Skip Barber Racing's nearly thirty years of training and expertise. <pre> RACE RESULTS ROUND EIGHT Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine Fin Pos St Pos Name 1 5 Raphael Matos 2 2 Philippe Gelinas 3 14 Matt Jaskol 4 8 Gerardo Bonilla 5 4 Brian Frisselle 6 20 Zilvinas Oskutis 7 12 Chris Prey 8 3 Joe D'Agostino 9 10 Roland Isra 10 13 Dominque Claessens

RACE RESULTS ROUND NINE Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine Fin Pos St Pos Name 1 4 Matt Jaskol 2 7 Salvador Duran 3 1 Raphael Matos 4 8 Ben Freudenberg 5 2 Joe D'Agostino 6 3 Philippe Gelinas 7 6 David Jurca 8 12 Brian Frisselle 9 10 Zilvinas Oskutis 10 9 Cliff White

Race Winners Round One Jaskol Round Two Gelinas Round Three Freudenberg Round Four Duran Round Five Duran Round Six Matos Round Seven Matos Round Eight Matos Round Nine Jaskol

Points Standings R. Matos 122 M. Jaskol 109 S. Duran 105 B. Freudenberg 93 P. Gelinas 83 J. D'Agostino 75 D. Claessens 73 G. Bonilla 69 B. Frisselle 66 Z. Oskutis 52

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Andretti , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Roland Isra , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Cliff White , Grant Maiman , Salvador Duran , Ben Freudenberg , Brian Frisselle , Joe D'Agostino , Gerardo Bonilla , Matt Jaskol , Divina Galica , Al Unser