Rookie Scott Poirier leads the 2001 Formula Dodge Southern Regional Series by three points over Scott Bassinder following hotly contested races at Moroso Motorsports Park. Bassinder turned in perfect results over the weekend in race action as did Randy Allison, Bud Risser and Louis Dibbrell in Master's competition. Allison holds a five point margin over Risser in the 40-plus category.
In the opener, Craig Duerson secured his third win of the young season by jumping the point from polesitter Gerardo Bonilla on the first lap chicane. Duerson pulled away steadily, recording fastest lap of 1:32.707 sec. en route to victory. Ricardo Imery and Scott Poirier traded position throughout the race before Imery pulled away to lock up third place. Ron Atapattu was best in Master's competition.
Bud Risser applied skillful drafting technique to pass polesitter Matt Franc heading into turn-2 during group 2 race 1 action. Risser made the most of his pass on lap 4, holding the point for the balance of the contest. Noteworthy was 16-year old Matt Green, who had started from 13th and tore through the field picking off slower traffic with cool efficiency. Franc, who had suffered a sail off the track in turn-4 on lap 6 was able to claw his way back up to third place. Risser earned extra merit for picking up the Master's win as well.
In group 3 race 1, Master Louis Dibrell, who earned pole position by 0.2 sec., held off Scott Bassinder and karting scholarship invitee Ben Moore III for six laps before succumbing to the pair's gritty efforts. Once by, the two sparred for the lead before Bassinder wrestled it for good late to take the win. Moore and Dibrell followed in second and third.
Veteran racer Randy Allison used patience and persistence, two hallmark qualities, to beat out Roland Isra in one of the day's closest races. The group 4 race 1 contest was a battle between north and south. Isra, out of New York, and Allison, from Georgia, squared off all session, practically running wheel-to-wheel. For Allison, who started from fourth, timing was everything. The Georgian waited until the right opportunity on the final lap before assuming the lead and taking the flag. Isra settled for second and Julio Campos third. Campos's finish was impressive after his start from seventh due to a miscue in qualifying. Polesitter Juan Manuel Polar was exceptionally quick but finished out of the money in fourth.
Gerardo Bonilla jumpstarted the second day with a first lap takeover of the point from Craig Duerson. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it stick as Scott Poirier had designs on leading the race as well. Poirier took advantage of contact between Duerson and Ricardo Imery to assume the lead on lap 8. He went on to establish the track record with a time of 1:32.157 sec. Eastern Series competitor David Elden had a good battle with Georgia Tech engineering student Laura Rowe for the final podium spot, which Elden took by 0.5 sec. Peter Jansen was best in the Master's group, finishing fifth after a start from the rear of the pack.
In group 2 race 2 competition, Matt Franc redeemed himself from his earlier scrap with Bud Risser by securing the victory ahead of Risser and third place finisher Matt Green. Green got a fantastic start to wrestle the lead from Risser, who had started on pole. He relinquished the point to Franc in turn-2 on lap 3. Risser then took the second position from Green on lap 5 in turn-2. The two checked each other for the duration of the race. Jay Fuchs, Craig Berry and Luke Bickham provided an epic on-track battle which was ultimately won by Berry. Risser picked up his second Master's tally of the weekend.
Scott Bassinder secured another win over Ben Moore III in group 3 race 2 action. Moore was there the whole race, finishing only a fraction of a second behind the winner to pick up second place honors. Louis Dibrell followed in third despite a challenge presented when his head sock became dislodged. Dibrell earns Master's points for his best in class result.
In the weekend finale, Julio Campos, starting from fourth, passed Randy Allison on lap 2 and then checked out for his first Formula Dodge Regional Series win. Juan Manuel Polar would challenge to make it interesting but left the track in turn-2 and had to take the access road to rejoin the field. Polar locked up third when Roland Isra uncharacteristically lost control in the chicane with three laps to go. Allison took maximum points in Master's class. Isra, who finished fourth, netted points for his second place result in Master's competition.
Formula Dodge Southern Series race action resumes at Sebring International Raceway on January 20-21.
- Andrew Torres