The Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship continued to take form during early season race action at the Phoenix International Raceway. Bret Arsenault and Leonardo Maia recorded four wins and seven podium trips between them, en route to ...
The Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship continued to take form during early season race action at the Phoenix International Raceway. Bret Arsenault and Leonardo Maia recorded four wins and seven podium trips between them, en route to opening a sizable gap in championship points. Forty-five racers accepted the challenge of the 11-turn, 1.5-mile modified oval. After the last flag fell, Arsenault held a scant three-point margin over Maia, with the nearest threat 12 points behind the leader. Lester Quam continued his Mastery of the 40-plus category, tallying 35 of a possible 40 points in Phoenix. Peter Pondor-Pistor trails Quam by two points.
Under unusually cool conditions, Arsenault and Maia started the race action by going toe-to-toe in a heated contest. The pair volleyed the lead both early and late. Arsenault, who started from pole, gained an advantage by consistently aligning his car well out of turn-9 to set up a better shot onto the oval. Maia seemed content in position-2 until a late last lap pass in turn-2 caused a spin that spoiled his chances. His strong position on track was enough to salvage a third place finish ahead of Jon Vannini. Seiji Tojima, who followed Maia closely, was promoted to second after a patient and solid race. Other notable battles were between Dave House and Lee Novak. House was able to fend off a threatening attack from Novak throughout the race. Also, Wade Gaughran and Justin Blower fought until the checker flew with Gaughran on top of the result sheet rounding out the top-5. Hubert Stemmer was quickest among Masters in the contest.
In group 2 race 1, John Knudsen successfully pulled off a last lap pass of Hirotoshi Takeuchi, who looked ready to capture his first checkered flag of the season. The Japanese racer took the lead early from Knudsen and led every lap except the one that matters. Tamafumi Kamiya was in cruise and collect mode for the final podium spot in third. Roland Isra was best among Masters and took maximum points in the category.
Polesitter Bret Arsenault won his second race of the day, his sixth race in a row, in flag-to-flag fashion. Jon Vannini followed in second with Master racer Lester Quam in third. Nick Mavridis ran quick, hovering in position-4, but had to pit stop for a new nose on lap six after it dislodged during the race. Still, he managed to claw his way back up to finish in the top-5.
Saturday's Memorial Race saw Tophie Stewart record his first Skip Barber Race Series win after starting from third on the grid. He earned this victory the hard way, wrestling it from a hard charging Leonardo Maia, who went on to finish second after starting from 15th. Stewart also had to contend with Mikel Miller and Tom Woods, who each had great jumps at the start to mount a challenge from 16th and 17th and finish the race in fourth and fifth respectively.
Maia and Arsenault started the second day of racing with another classic battle that lasted until the final flag. The two scrapped early and often before Maia finally overtook Arsenault in turn-1 to record his first win of the weekend and spoil Arsenault's perfect record. Seiji Tojima drove a solid third place after running hard with Vannini. Lee Novak's ride was notable from having made up the ground between 10th at the start to finish in fifth. Hubert Stemmer earned maximum points in Master's competition for the second time on the weekend.
John Knudsen reclaimed the lead late from Tamafumi Kamiya in group 2 race 2 to taste victory for the second time at Phoenix. Pistor and Isra followed in second and third respectively. Kamiya had to settle for fourth place after he got into Ze'ev Drori during a costly lapping move. This contest featured an epic battle for position-3 early between Isra, Hirotoshi and Pistor. Tim Traver, Emmanuel Crouviser and Shawn Greene shared a similar scrap for position throughout the race as well.
In the weekend's finale, Arsenault won wire-to-wire over Jon Vannini and Nick Mavridis, second and third respectively. Mavridis was able to rebound from a spin in turn-1 to finish third ahead of a disappointed John Mefford and Whitney Bellows. Lester Quam ran out of track in turn-9 and suffered a spin that cost him position but didn't affect his best in Masters result. - Andrew Torres