SBRS: Southern racers turn up the heat

Craig Duerson notched three out of a possible four victories to hold the point in Formula Dodge Southern Regional Series competition. The action was held on the 3.7 mile road course of Sebring International Raceway. Duerson's track prowess in...

Craig Duerson notched three out of a possible four victories to hold the point in Formula Dodge Southern Regional Series competition. The action was held on the 3.7 mile road course of Sebring International Raceway. Duerson's track prowess in rounds 7 and 8 allows him to hold a one-point margin over rookie Scott Poirier in the overall tally. Matt Franc also had multiple wins on the weekend. Bud Risser and Peter Pondor-Pistor were notably swift in Master's competition, but it was Risser who opened a 20-point gap between first and the field in the over-40 category.

In the weekend's first race action, Matt Franc secured a comfortable win over Scott Bassinger. Erik Penz was third having improved from fourth at the start. The battle for P3 was heated, as newcomer and 16-year old karting star Daniel Moraes and Barber Dodge Pro Series hopeful Penz fought for space as if money were at stake. Further down the field Rick Gilhart and Jay Fuchs volleyed positions a few times before Gilhart eventually took sixth. Luke Bickham earned most progressive driver recognition after climbing from 14th to ninth. Roland Isra took Master's honors in this contest.

In group 2 race 1, a group reserved for Barber Dodge Pro Series and Formula Dodge National hopefuls, saw Davy Cook take the win from pole in flag-to-flag fashion. Dan DiLeo and Scott Presti followed in second and third after a hard fought battle in which DeLeo secured the spot on the last corner of the last lap. Brad Parker and Mark Patterson scrapped for P9, which had them grinning even after the race. Ron Attapattu, who started from 11th, earned both Masters and most progressive driver distinction.

Craig Duerson held onto first place with a win despite close attention from Juan Manuel Polar. Polar would take second and Peter Ponder-Pistor third. Ponder-Pistor, in Sebring for the first time after many stints on the West Coast, seemed at home on the track. Spare a thought for Pro Series racer David Weiringa, who was in hot pursuit and set the fastest lap before coasting to a stop when he ran out of gas. New driver Mike (Scoop) Heavy was the most progressive driver in sixth place after a good race with Dana Martin.

In group 4 race 1, Craig Duerson won from pole in front of Matt Franc and David Weiringa. The battle of the day was between Bud Risser and Tom Nastasi for sixth and first in Masters, which was ultimately won by Risser after a Nastasi miscue in turn-13. Another good battle was between karting ace Matt Green and Guliherme Jacob. The light-hearted Guliherme, who flies in from Brazil for each race, routinely exclaims, “I love this racing, I love this racing,” whatever the outcome. He assures us he is reporting good things to his karting friends in Brazil. Bud Risser claimed the Masters prize with his win in the class.

In the day's last action, Florida points leader Scott Poirier gradually drew away from the field although Juan Manuel Polar made a concerted effort to reel him in from his seventh place start position. Ben Moore III, a recent Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner, took third place honors. Keith Fisher battled with Mark Patterson before earning his Masters points.

The Dale Evans Memorial, held late in the evening, was won by Scott Presti who played a sensible waiting game until the last lap when he passed Davy Cook for the win. Chris Baker, who had led for most of the race, had to settle for third place. Curt Andrews side-stepped Bud Risser and Akihira Okamoto to finish fourth. Laura Rowe had the race of her life, gaining confidence, as she found the speed required to stay with veteran racers Bud Risser and Roland Isra.

In second day racing action, Matt Franc won ahead of Scott Bassinger who had set fastest lap but couldn’t find consistent speed to challenge. Daniel Moraes took another third place result. Jay Fuchs was best among the Masters competition.

Group 2 race 2 featured a great race with four lead changes before evolving into a Chris Baker win after Scott Presti and Davy Cook each took a 20-second penalty for contact. Dan De Leo took second and ran the fastest lap with a time of 2:28.908 sec. Presti bounced back from his penalty to round out the podium.

Emotions ran high in group 3 race 2. Juan Manuel Polar was unhappy to find he was nearly demoted from his hard fought win after Craig Duerson complained of blocking and aggressive driving tactics. The veteran Duerson is known to be tough to pass and Polar's move was questionable, but after some deliberation, Skip Barber instructor Barry Waddell chose to allow Polar's win but put Polar on AP for overly-aggressive driving. Peter Pondor-Pistor turned in a top-5 performance overall and a Masters win for his effort.

In group 4 race 2, a motivated Craig Duerson set a new lap record en route to an impressive third win. Matt Franc and Bud Risser followed in second and third. Andres Ruiz climbed from last to finish seventh and was the most progressive of the bunch. Bud Risser again collected Masters points.

In group 5 race 2, Keith Fisher did not realize he had won the race until he emerged from hiscar. His two wins cemented a successful weekend as he scoops Masters points as well. Newcomer Steve Welk and Ben Moore III also made podium appearances with second and third place results. Scott Poirier had contact with Juan Manuel Polar which ended Polar's race. Poirier would go on to finish fourth.

The DCJM Memorial featured Davy Cook, Craig Duerson and Dan DiLeo in a 1-2-3 finish order to cap the weekend's action.

Formula Dodge Southern Regional action moves to Homestead, Florida on March 10-11.

- Andrew Torres

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Rick Gilhart , Davy Cook , Roland Isra , Chris Baker , Scott Poirier , Skip Barber , Steve Welk , Craig Duerson , Mark Patterson , Keith Fisher , Juan Manuel Polar , Barry Waddell