SBRS: Friday final qualifying summary

Matos secures pole with new track record. (SEBRING, Fla.) March 14, 2003--Rafael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil held on to his provisional pole position in final qualifying today for the first round of the Formula Dodge National Championship ...

Matos secures pole with new track record.

(SEBRING, Fla.) March 14, 2003--Rafael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil held on to his provisional pole position in final qualifying today for the first round of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER today with a lap of 2:22.919 seconds around the legendary 3.7-mile circuit at Sebring International Racway. The time is a new track record for the category, besting Matos' previous record of 2:23.696 seconds, which he set in first qualifying on Thursday.

Lining up alongside Matos in Friday's race will be fellow Barber-Champ Car Scholarship driver Philippe Gelinas of Grand Mere, Quebec. Brian Frisselle improved on his first qualifying effort to move himself to third on the grid, with Gerardo Bonilla taking fourth. Ben Freudenberg of North Bend, Oregon, will start fifth alongside of Mexican Salvador Duran. Joe D'Agostino and Matt Jaskol, both of whom won scholarships in the Barber-Champ Car Karting Run Off in January, will make up the fourth row, with David Jurca and Ward Imrie slotting into the fifth row. Round one of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER will get underway Friday at 3:25 pm.

Matos was excited about taking another track record, his first National Championship point, and is looking forward to getting the race started.

"I just tried to push the car and myself to the limit, and the track was really fast today with the cooler conditions," said Matos. "My mechanics have done a fine job preparing my car and I have to thank the Barber-Champ Car system for giving me this opportunity to race here today. I am looking forward to the start of the race, its so exciting to be racing on this big track with so many fans everywhere."

Phillippe Gelinas believes that while many of the drivers were avoiding the draft in qualifying, that there will be no avoiding it during the race.

"I will need to be aggressive in this race, since I think its so competitive in this series that if you make a small mistake, you could find yourself fighting back from fifteenth spot," said Gelinas. "The draft will certainly come into play on the long back straight and the front straight going into turn one, since those are also such good opportunities to pass."

Brian Frisselle, whose father Brad took the overall win at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1977, belied the fact that he has been racing less than a year with his strong qualifying performance, which secured him a second-row starting position.

"I tried running in the draft in qualifying yesterday, and it just didn't work out as well as I hoped, so this morning, I just ran alone and concentrated on setting a fast time," said Frisselle. "I think the start of the race could get a little crazy. I am going to try and hold onto my position on the inside through the first set of corners and then settle into a good race pace. I just hope that the first few laps are clean and that we can go racing from there."

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last year's champion, Grant Maimen, who will compete this summer in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull American Formula One Driver 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 who will make his Toyota Atlantic debut next week in Monterrey, Mexico, 2002 FF2000 Champion Bryan Sellars, and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser, Scott Poirier, Leonardo Maia, and Colin Fleming.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Ward Imrie , Al Unser Sr. , Leonardo Maia , A.J. Allmendinger , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Salvador Duran , Ben Freudenberg , Brian Frisselle , Joe D'Agostino , Gerardo Bonilla , Matt Jaskol