Frisselle started the season strong and expects to finish stronger. What a difference a year makes. After an exploratory rookie campaign in the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, sophomore driver Burt Frisselle is third...
Frisselle started the season strong and expects to finish stronger.
What a difference a year makes. After an exploratory rookie campaign in the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER, sophomore driver Burt Frisselle is third in the points through six rounds heading into this weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Always looking forward, Frisselle has also recently contested his first professional race in the elevated Barber Dodge Pro Series at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.
If Frisselle enjoys a home track advantage, it would be Laguna Seca. Following several Formula Dodge Regional wins and his first National Championship victory in Round 2, Frisselle seized the early season points lead by landing on the podium three of the first four rounds. Then the series moved to Indiana, which proved unkind. Following the Putnam Park rounds, in which he captured only 11 points total, Frisselle relinquished the points lead to Scott Sharp but aims to get it back.
"Although my results at Putnam Park were worse than I had anticipated, given the circumstances, I had to be pleased with a top-5 finish. Having to recover from a mechanical DNF in the first race, I felt I had a good shot at a podium finish in the second. While trying to make a pass for fourth place I had light contact with another car that damaged the front wing and knocked the toe-in out of alignment. From that point on, I was forced to drive defensively and glad to collect points with my fifth place finish."
The Californian points to his first year in the Official Amateur National Championship of CART as his foundation for confidence, consistency and his comfort level.
"Last year in the National Championship, I entered with my only goal to gain experience and raise my abilities to the level of the front-runners. My intention was to compete with them on equal footing. I was looking for as much seat time in competitive situations as possible. I really couldn't compete with the front-runners until the end of the season, nor did I believe I could."
With his learning year behind him, Frisselle's goal for 2002 is to win the championship, an objective that is extremely plausible given his strong start. It's no understatement that 2001 was a preparatory year for an all out assault on the title.
"This year I have a much different approach. I am more experienced, I possess far better race craft, I have better car and set-up knowledge, and improved strategies for both qualifying and the race." He continued,"My comfort level is high and this has given me a great deal of confidence. I know what to expect from the R/T 2000 and Michelin tires. Last year, most of the racetracks were new to me and I may have been intimidated by the front-runners. Now I honestly feel I can compete on an equal level with anyone in the series."
Patience is something Frisselle has had to develop; a characteristic that has helped his mind set, fostered analytical ability and improved his chances for success. During a race, you get the sense he is always thinking and is certain to maximize opportunity. If Frisselle has a weakness, it may be a lack of assertion. Many recognize aggression as a double-edged sword. And although this affable racer is not one to go for the jugular, he is well respected by competitors, mechanics and driver coaches alike.
The picture of Frisselle as a potential champion will become clearer after Indy. How will he rebound? Is he Championship material?
"Putnam Park didn't hurt my confidence. Although my results were disappointing I know that I'm capable of running at the front and winning races in this series. I have run at IRP before and am comfortable with the track. More importantly, I know what it takes to create a good lap there."
To date, Frisselle's strategy appears to be working. But can he keep it going?
"My approach to the second half of the season is simple: consistency. Every race is a new beginning and I plan to put myself in a position to win or place well. And if I execute this strategy successfully, hopefully at the end of the season I'll find my name at the top of the charts."