After a five-week layoff, the Formula Dodge Western Race Series travels to the heat of Arizona for its second stop at Phoenix International Raceway. Speaking of heat, the hottest driver heading into the weekend is Skip Barber Karting...
After a five-week layoff, the Formula Dodge Western Race Series travels to the heat of Arizona for its second stop at Phoenix International Raceway.
Speaking of heat, the hottest driver heading into the weekend is Skip Barber Karting Scholarship recipient Ryan Howe. Howe carries a five-race winning streak into Phoenix, a run that has vaulted him into the points lead.
Joining Howe, will be frontrunners Davy Cook, Brett Arsenault, Quentin Wahl, Brian Angen, Patrick Long, Christian Szymczak and Arie Luyendyk Jr., all of whom have posted victories this season and are in the Top 10 in points. The top five drivers in the Masters Division also will be racing this weekend.
Howe should be looking forward to the return engagement on the 1.51-mile, 11-turn course at PIR.
Howe produced two dominating victories and set the Formula Dodge track record of 1 minute, 8.166 seconds in qualifying when the Western Series visited Phoenix on Nov. 20-21. He will be pitted against Scott Presti, who is currently third in the Southern Race Series, and Szymczak, who recorded his first Formula Dodge win and a second at Phoenix.
Two promising newcomers, Long and Luyendyk Jr., will be racing in two groups this weekend. They will face each other in Group 4, which also includes Angen and the top two Masters drivers, Lester Quam and Wahl.
Luyendyk also has fond memories of Phoenix. He won the pole in qualifying for his race group and then led wire-to-wire to capture the victory in his first Formula Dodge start. He followed that up with a second-place finish in his second race.
Long, another Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner, will be making his first Formula Dodge start at Phoenix. However, he did post two victories in the last race weekend at Laguna Seca. Arsenault, who recorded four podium finishes at PIR including two wins, will challenge Long in Group 1.
In Group 2, Luyendyk Jr. will do battle with Cook. Cook is currently second in points and hasn’t finished out of the top four this season.
In the Masters Division, Quam, Wahl and Steve Sylvester are locked up in a close battle, separated by only 10 points. Quam (two wins), Wahl and Kent Lebo (fourth in points) each had victories at Phoenix while Sylvester finished twice on the combination oval and infield road course.
The race action begins with qualifying on Saturday morning. Each race group will then stage races on both Saturday and Sunday.
- Roy Hasty