SBRS: Sebring race report

Jaskol Takes Formula Dodge National Championship Win At Sebring (SEBRING, Fla.) March 14, 2003-Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, made the most of a late-race yellow to edge out polesitter Rafael Matos by .123 second for the win in the opening ...

Jaskol Takes Formula Dodge National Championship Win At Sebring

(SEBRING, Fla.) March 14, 2003-Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, made the most of a late-race yellow to edge out polesitter Rafael Matos by .123 second for the win in the opening round of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER at Sebring International Raceway. Brian Frisselle converted his third starting position into a third place finish, with Ben Freudenberg of North Bend, Oregon, taking fourth ahead of Ward Imrie. Salvador Duran of Mexico City, Mexico, took sixth place with Dominique Claessens of Torrance, California, in seventh. Barber- Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Philippe Gelinas came home in eighth, with Abraham Zimroth of New York, New York, in ninth, and Joe D'Agostino, another Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver, rounding out the top ten in a very exciting 30 minute race.

Jaskol, who secured his ride in the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER with a Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship, was excited to emerge the winner of a race that looked as though would be Matos.'

"I had to push really hard to get up front from where I started back in eighth," said Jaskol. "The Michelins were good and consistent, though, and I was able to be fast at the end when it counted. It was some really exciting racing today, as everyone was really aggressive out there, but this is a really intensely competitive field, and I am really excited to take this win."

Polesitter Rafael Matos was disappointed not to take the win after spending most of the race up front and setting the fastest lap of the race, but knows that championships are made of points, not just wins.

"I want to take as many wins as possible, especially at an important race like this in Sebring, but it's a long championship, so its good to get these points for the rest of the year," said Matos. "I tried to get back by him on the last lap, but had to come out of the throttle in the last corner, so I could not get by."

Brian Frisselle started from the third position and was deep in the battle over second spot until the late stages of the race to come home in third.

"I was really busy the whole race," said Frisselle, who has followed his older brother Burt, who now races in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, into the National Championship less than a year after taking a Three Day Racing School with Skip Barber.

"It was absolutely crazy how we were changing positions during every lap of the race. I started in third, and fell back at one point as far back as seventh, and then was able to get back to the front, so I am happy with this result in my first National Championship race."

Matos got off to a fast start, taking the lead at the drop of the green flag as the rest of the field got through the very fast turn one cleanly. By the end of the first lap, Matos had already set sail, leaving the field 2.2 seconds behind with Frisselle, Ben Freudenberg, Philippe Gelinas, and Gerardo Bonilla fighting for every position behind him, as drivers in position two through eight were separated by less than a half second.

Gelinas made his move to the front of this pack on the third lap, moving from fifth to second, while Frisselle followed Bonilla. Jaskol had begun his push to the front, taking fifth spot from his eighth starting position by the third lap. Matos, meanwhile, had continued to make the competition in his mirrors smaller, pulling out to a four-second gap in the early going.

Gelinas lost time when he dropped a wheel at the exit of turn six as he and Frisselle dueled for position, spinning the young Canadian and dropping him back to eighteenth spot. By the end of the fourth lap, Matos had stretched his lead to 7.1 seconds, and Jaskol had moved into second, with Bonilla, Frisselle, and Imrie in tow. The pack continued to lose touch with Matos, but never with each other, as the drivers exchanged positions on nearly every lap, with four-wide flares heading into turn one being the rule rather than the exception.

Matos continued to move out from the group, settling down to keep his lead at just over eight seconds. The green flag run ended on the sixth lap, though, as John Angelone had an off-course excursion, causing damage to his car which forced the safety team on-course and bringing out a full course yellow. Jaskol managed to beat Matos to the stripe to take the lead after the Brazilian slowed for the yellow earlier than Jaskol had. After two laps of clean up, the field returned to green for a sprint to the finish.

At the restart, Jaskol led Matos, Bonilla, Frisselle, and Joe D'Agostino back to green flag action. The field once again got through turn one cleanly, with Jaskol holding off a strong restart by Matos to keep the lead through the lap until the long turn seventeen where Matos made another run at the point. Jaskol defended his line and held Matos off to take his first win in Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER competition by just over a tenth of a second. Gerardo Bonilla was involved in an incident in the closing laps of the race, ending his strong charge to the front.

The Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER will race again on the weekend of April 25-7 at Virginia International Raceway. The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last year's champion, Grant Maiman, 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.

-sbr-

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Leonardo Maia , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Salvador Duran , Ben Freudenberg , Abraham Zimroth , Brian Frisselle , John Angelone , Joe D'Agostino , Gerardo Bonilla , Matt Jaskol , Al Unser