SBRS: Masters National Laguna Seca race report

Isra clinches Masters National Championship The Masters National Championship headlined the Western Regional opener Roland Isra's long cross-country flight from California was that much more enjoyable following his clinching of the Masters ...

Isra clinches Masters National Championship
The Masters National Championship headlined the Western Regional opener

Roland Isra's long cross-country flight from California was that much more enjoyable following his clinching of the Masters National Championship this past weekend at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Isra, one of 65 racers that took part in the Formula Dodge Western Regional opener, captured one pole and two wins in the National Championship to build an insurmountable lead with two rounds remaining. The New Yorker becomes the first two-time, repeat and only champion in the series.

Young Brian Frisselle, making a name for himself as he develops in the shadow of big brother Burt, led the weekend off with a win in group 1 competition. The victory was his first in Skip Barber Race Series play. Young Frisselle started from P2 but led the first five laps before giving way to the more experienced Tim Traver. Traver paced the field over the next eight laps but yielded to Frisselle on lap 14 as they passed lapped traffic, eventually following the young racer to the stripe in second. Newcomer Adam Fichtelman advanced from fifth to join the pair on the podium. Fichtelman is an accomplished motocross rider, dabbling in auto racing. Veteran Jon McCaman returned from some time off to score the Masters victory in the regional grouping.

The Masters National Championship ran as group 2 on Saturday. The 1-2-3 start order of Isra, Willcox and Marino remained throughout the entire 17-lap contest. Most improved among the 19 racers was Steve Sylvester, a West Coast representative, who started 10th but motored to a top-5 result. Bret MacDonald capitalized on the expert coaching he received from Formula Dodge standout Jason Richardson to promote himself to fourth from his seventh place start position.

Group 3 race 1 saw Mechanic-of-the-Year Richard Schmidt score a 21-second margin of victory over Brian Frisselle. Schmidt lived up to his qualifying expectations, starting on pole and leading 15 of the 17 laps. Yoshihiro Murata earned the final spot on the podium with his third place result. Scott Meadow, who set the fastest lap with a time of 1:41.070 sec., led briefly before going four-off on lap 5. Still, he garnered an impressive result in his first taste of the Skip Barber Race Series.

Nick Jones turned his most progressive drive from 11th into a most impressive victory in group 4 competition. Jones steadily climbed the ranks of the 13-car field and slotted into second on lap 12. From there, he hounded race leader and new-to-the-series Jose Pablos, eventually upsetting the Puerto Rican who then went four-off on his last lap. Jones led the final three circuits to claim the win. John Peterson followed in second ahead of Steve Sylvester, in third. Peterson gets extra credit for his Regional Masters win.

Masters veteran Mark Patterson endured a battle with fellow Masters racer Quentin Wahl to capture the win in the day's group 5 finale. Patterson, who started second, fell back to third early before regrouping and finding the form that we've seen in countless races. House and Wahl duked it out for the lead while Patterson sat back biding his time. Patterson inherited the lead when Wahl and House had contact and were forced to pit under Regional rules. Bret MacDonald continued to impress with his strong showing, a second place podium result from 12th. Derek Deboer improved from sixth to claim third place.

In the Day Two opener, Tim Traver exacted revenge on young Brian Frisselle, claiming the win after a 16-lap battle. Frisselle led 10 of 16 trips but Traver found a way by when Frisselle dropped a wheel exiting turn-9. Traver capitalized on his perfect run and made the pass into turn-11 stick for the remainder of the race. Frisselle followed in second along with Phil Saville in third. Saville earned most progressive driver distinction by ascending from a sixth place grid position. Vito Racano eanred the Masters win.

Roland Isra started alongside polesitter Mike Marino in the second Masters National Championship race. Isra knew he'd have his hands full with Marino, who won four consecutive races mid-season and often seemed to have the fellow New Yorkers number. But the title was at stake and Isra is the defending champion. Marino got the better run at the green flag, pacing the field over four early laps. Isra, who knows Laguna Seca well, saw his opportunity on lap 5 and quickly seized it. He led the final 13 laps to record the win and claim a successful title defense. Isra has now won 10 of the 22 Masters National Championship races to date, a success rate of 45%. Chris Willcox upset Marino with two laps to go to land in second. Willcox, the closest challenger to Isra all season, leads the Grand Masters category for 50-plus racers.

Group 3 race 2 saw Richard Schmidt endure a phenomenal challenge from young Brian Frisselle. Frisselle threw everything he could at Schmidt, including a fastest lap time of 1:40.364 sec., but he couldn't find a way by. Schmidt, who started on pole, was able to lead all 17 laps to record his second win of the weekend. Frisselle and Yoshihiro Murata came home in second and third, respectively. Gray Gregory ascended four spots to land in sixth after starting from 10th. Jim Mashburn was the Masters victor.

Rookie Jose Pablos put an exclamation point on his first Skip Barber Race Series weekend by claiming a comfortable 23-second margin victory over Steve Sylvester and John Peterson. Pablos benefited from Nick Jones' misfortune. Jones suffered a mechanical DNF on lap five allowing the Puerto Rican to take the point and defend against all pursuers. Peterson set the quickest flyer with a time of 1:41.193 sec. but spun allowing an alert Sylvester to slot into second place.

Two post-race 20-second penalties decided the outcome in group 5 race 2, with Mark Patterson and Quentin Wahl on the receiving end. Although Patterson led Wahl and others for all 17 laps, Wahl lightly got into the back of Patterson going into the corkscrew's braking zone on the last lap. Neither pitted following the off-course excursion. The penalty decision promoted Phil Saville to his first series win. Bret MacDonald slotted into second place, and the Masters win, ahead of a downgraded Patterson, in third.

Mikel Miller needed just five laps to climb from 15th to the point en route to victory in the Michele Henn Fish Memorial. Seiji Tojima and Jared Schmelzer joined Miller on the podium by virtue of their second and third place finishes.

The Masters National Championship reconvenes in Sebring, Florida for its finale weekend November 1-3.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Roland Isra , Skip Barber , Jason Richards , Mark Patterson , Brian Frisselle , Quentin Wahl , Nick Jones , Tim Traver , Mikel Miller , Jose Pablos , Phil Saville , John Peterson , Brett MacDonald , Gray Gregory