SBRS: Fontana: Season opening races one and two report

Montinola Motors at California Speedway Chirping tires for the first time this year, the Formula Dodge Western Regional racers resumed action at California Speedway, where championship leader Robbie Montinola and rookie Al Unser combined hot...

Montinola Motors at California Speedway

Chirping tires for the first time this year, the Formula Dodge Western Regional racers resumed action at California Speedway, where championship leader Robbie Montinola and rookie Al Unser combined hot hands with quick feet to score multiple wins on the 3.0 mile road course. Nearly all of the 38 racers found the new track offering to their liking. Montinola's points ensure that he left the Speedway with the championship lead. The Formula Dodge standout has 132 credits, giving him 17 more than second place Justin Blower, who holds a two-point margin over Unser. Richard Smith-Allen leads the Masters with 120 points, five points better than Jose Guzman.

In group 1 race 1, polesitter Michael Vukelich led the first three laps before giving way to second place starter John Knudsen, who held the point for 11 of the balance 12 laps. Returning driver Damian Della-Santina picked off 12 positions to land on the podium in second. Appearing far from rusty, Della-Santina's charge was notable for his lack of practice and qualifying track time. Atticus Missner inserted himself in the lead briefly but fell back to finish in third.

Al Unser led 11 of the 13 laps to claim the group 2 win over Tim Rose and Burt Frisselle. Unser darted from sixth to take the lead from Jason Richardson on the second lap. Tim Rose, the seventh place starter, advanced the most positions and set a fastest lap time of 1:56.512 sec. en route to his podium appearance. Dave House earned the Masters class win with his admirable drive over fellow Master Vito Racano.

Polesitter Robbie Montinola led all 15 laps in group 3 to earn a five-second margin victory over Jason Klein, the fastest lapper of the bunch. Tim Traver followed in third place. Steve Ablondi motored from 12th to finish in sixth place, allowing him to claim most progressive driver distinction.

In the day's finale, racers paired up in tandems for the first ever Route 66 Enduro. Originally set up to be an hourlong race, the contest was shortened after 48 minutes due to darkness. The format required two driver changes and one stop for refueling. The team of Tommy Fogarty/John Knudsen took the win over team Colin Fleming/Chris Carmody/Damian Della-Santina. Tim Traver/Mikel Miller followed in third place. Mark Hamilton Peters/Justin Blower/Al O'Connor actually took the flag first but were penalized 60 seconds for shortening one of their pit stops, relegating them to fifth place.

Karting champion Chris Carmody held off the aggressive pursuit of Michael Vukelich and John Knudsen in the opener of day two allowing him to claim his first win in Skip Barber Race Series play. Vukelich and Knudsen battled gamely and followed five seconds behind in second and third respectively. Each of the top three held a share of the lead over the 15 lap contest. Jose Guzman was best among Masters, claiming the 41-plus category win over Peter Ponder-Pistor.

In group 2 race 2, Al Unser sidestepped polesitter Ben Freudenberg at the start and then led the balance of laps to take his second win of the weekend. Freudenberg, the fastest lap setter with a time of 1:55.518 sec., held off Jason Richardson to claim second place honors. Richardson's third place was his best result ever in series competition, suggesting a strong second half of the season for the ever-improving driver. Justin Blower promoted himself five positions to land in fourth. Vito Racano exacted a bit of revenge over Dave House when he took the Masters win in this matchup.

Robbie Montinola put a stamp on a dominant weekend by claiming his second wire-to-wire victory from pole. The win establishes the Californian as the man out in front of the Western Regional standings. John Knudsen and Victor Quierez staged an epic battle for second, which was eventually won by Knudsen, who remarkably had started in 14th. Quierez filled out the podium with his third place result.

Unser claimed a bonus with in the Memorial, nudging his way to the front from a fourth place grid position. Unser led 14 of the 15 lap contest, with only a brief interruption by John Knudsen, who held the point on lap 4. Knudsen went on to finish in third, behind Jason Richardson in second. Race Series mechanic Ricky Schmit started 14th but steadily caught the pack and finished in the top-6.

The West moves East when the Western Regional racers travel to Sebring International Raceway on February 15-17 for next round action. Catch all the recaps on the Skip Barber News.


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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Al Unser Sr. , Atticus Missner , Burt Frisselle , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Michael Vukelich , Jason Richards , John Knudsen , Ben Freudenberg , Tim Traver , Dave House , Robbie Montinola