SBRS: VIR round three race report

Freudenberg takes Formula Dodge National Championship round three win at V.I.R (Danville, VA) April 27, 2003-Ben Freudenberg of North Bend, Oregon, won the second Formula Dodge National Championship race of the weekend at Virginia International...

Freudenberg takes Formula Dodge National Championship round three win at V.I.R

(Danville, VA) April 27, 2003-Ben Freudenberg of North Bend, Oregon, won the second Formula Dodge National Championship race of the weekend at Virginia International Raceway, leading seven of the eleven laps to take the checkered flag ahead of Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Zilvinas Oskutis of Lithuania. Ricky Schmidt of Lebec, California, took fourth position after starting from the seventh spot while fellow Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Joe D'Agostino took fifth place with a strong drive from his twelfth starting position. Brian Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, also made an impressive charge through the field to take sixth spot after starting back in fourteenth, with race one winner Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, finishing in seventh. Salvador Duran of Mexico City, Mexico, made the biggest move up of the field, as he started nineteenth and finished in eighth after running as high as sixth before getting shuffled back late in the race. Duran also set the fastest lap of the race with a 2:11.305-second tour of the 3.27-mile long course layout at Virginia International Raceway. Dominique Claessens of Torrance, California came home ninth, with Cliff White taking tenth spot, his first top-ten in Formula Dodge National Championship competition.

Freudenberg was overjoyed with the win after driving a smart race with the perfect combination of aggression and patience.

" My car was much better today after I made a change to the set-up on it," said Freudenberg. "I was also doing a much better job at the Oak Tree corner, which leads onto the long back stretch, and that made a big difference in my pace for the race. The guys behind me started to fight amongst themselves for second, and that was good for me, since I could get up in front, ahead of where they could draft me, so I could build on my lead."

Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Matt Jaskol, who won the season-opening race in Sebring, backed up that performance with his second-place finish at V.I.R.

"It was a really exciting race out there," said Jaskol. "I managed to make a few moves early on and even up into the lead, but Ben did a great job getting by me. There was a lot of close racing going on, wheel to wheel, without any contact, so it was exciting. I thought I might have a shot at getting close to the lead late in the race, but Ben had worked up a pretty good lead on us after we had been battling for the position. I'm happy with this result, though, its good for the points battle and we can go on to Road America and keep building on this."

Polesitter Aivara Pyragius of Kedainiai, Lithuania, led the field to the green flag, but his time in the lead was brief, as his car slowed just as he crossed the starting line, forcing the field to take evasive action to get by. Pyragius lost drive after the third corner with transmission problems, ending his race early. Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Florida took the point as Rafael Matos and Zilvinas Oskutis gave chase from second and third positions. Bonilla held onto the lead for the first lap, but was sent off course by Matos after Matos locked his brakes for turn one and made contact with Bonila. The incident left Matos with car damage but he was able to continue, as Bonilla was forced to rejoin the field back in the pack.

"It's really disappointing, I know Rafael didn't mean to do it, but you hate to get knocked out of the lead," said Bonilla. "I have to congratulate Ben, though, on a really good race today. I'm looking forward to racing again at Road America."

Freudenberg managed to avoid the contact ahead of him, and took the point for the second lap, leading Oskutis and Jaskol who were disputing second place. Heading into the first corner on the next lap, Jaskol made a big move, going inside of Freudenberg as Oskutis tried to make a pass on the outside. Jaskol made the pass work as Oskutis backed off to get back in line behind Freudenberg.

Jaskol held onto the lead for the next four laps, twice holding off Freudenberg as the two went into the braking zone for turn one, Freudenberg first trying to make the pass on the outside and then on the next lap to the inside as Jaskol held his line and kept his braking late enough to hold onto the lead. Freudenberg got a good run out of the final corner to get a run on Jaskol on the next lap, making the pass for the lead in the first corner. Jaskol filed into second place, but soon fell into the clutches of Oskutis and a hard-charging Ricky Schmidt. The threesome diced for second place for the next five laps, with each taking a turn in the position only to find themselves battling back for it from fourth. Freudenberg's lead grew as the battle for second place intensified between Schmidt, Oskutis, and Jaskol.

Further back in the field, Salvador Duran was making a charge from nineteenth starting position, moving up each lap while Brian Frisselle also was making moves toward the front. Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Driver Joe D'Agostino also making the most of the passing zones after the two long straights with a steady march toward the front after starting from twelfth.

"I learned a lot this weekend," said D'Agostino. "I had to race really hard today since I made some mistakes in qualifying and started so far back. The race was really exciting, though, as everyone gave each other exactly the right amount of racing room on this track, which is really a blast to drive."

The battle for second place allowed Freudenberg to stretch his legs at the front, extending his lead each lap as Jaskol, Schmidt, and Oskutis each took turns swapping positions two through four on each tour of the track. As the field took the white flag for one lap remaining, Ricky Schmidt held onto second place, with Jaskol in third and Oskutis in fourth. But the shuffle continued, as Jaskol was able to get two spots on the final lap to take second place ahead of Oskutis and Schmidt as Freudenberg motored to his first win in Formula Dodge National Championship competition.

The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine will race next at Road America on the weekend of May 31st.

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last years champion, Grant Maimen, who will compete 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.

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