SBRS: Three First Time Winners Highlight Exciting Western Series Finale

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge Western Race Series finale was held last weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Ca. It provided plenty of action to finish off a great season in spite of champion Ryan Howe locking- up the title in last round at...

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge Western Race Series finale was held last weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Ca. It provided plenty of action to finish off a great season in spite of champion Ryan Howe locking- up the title in last round at Las Vegas.

Steve Davis, John Browne and Fred Rasch all captured their first Skip Barber Race Series career victories on the historic, undulating circuit. At the conclusion of the weekend, Howe picked up his championship trophy; Brian Angen received the Most Improved Driver accolade, and Patrick Long received the Rookie of the Year honor in absentia. The Master’s crown went to Quentin Wahl, having secured it in Las Vegas as well.

In Group 1, the first race went to Leonardo Maia. After starting second, Maia inherited the lead when pole sitter John Hall spun harmlessly in turn-2 delaying Nick Jones in the process. Steve Davis moved into second while Jones claimed third. Hall recovered to finish fourth.

Steve Davis moved up to the top step on the podium for race 2, claiming his first victory. Jones also finished a spot higher, moving into second while Hall came home third. Race 1 winner Maia suffered a mechanical failure and did not finish.

In what might have been arguably the best race of the weekend, Brian Angen led a 4-car train across the finish line in the first race of Group 2. Angen grabbed the lead when Christian Szsymczak slid into the kitty litter in turn-2. He then led most of the race, but not without being hounded by champ Howe who held the lead briefly on lap-13. Howe ultimately finished second, just .179 sec behind Angen with Davy Cook third and John Knudsen fourth. All four crossed the line within two seconds. There were entertaining duels throughout the field including J.J. Fischer and Brett Arsenault, both in fifth and sixth respectively. Arsenault was the most progressive driver moving up from 14th on the grid.

The second race for Group 2 saw Howe take the victory after passing Angen in turn-2 of the second lap. Damian Della-Santina put the pedal to the metal, storming up from 12th starting position to finish second. Trailing Della-Santina was Cook who was followed by race 1 winner Angen.

Group 3, race 1 saw Southern Series regular Robert Nagel win by 14 seconds over Lee Novak who scored his first career podium. Third was Peter Nosler. The second race for the group hosted a few new faces at the front. John Browne edged Nagel at the line by .775 sec. to capture his first win at the end of entertaining dice. Yukinobu Nakayama made his first podium appearance coming in third. In his first ever Skip Barber Race Series start, Ben Freudenberg drove a strong race to finish fifth from his 15th starting position, making him the Most Progressive driver.

Fred Rasch was a first time winner in the first race for Group 4, accomplishing the feat by leading flag-to-flag, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Third was Tim Traver who had to out-race Jeff Brinda and John Killian to get the position. All three delighted the crowd with an entertaining race.

Rasch liked the victory podium so much so that he went and did it again in the second race for Group 4. Once again he led Mefford across the line by six seconds. This time around Brinda got around Traver for third. Rasch ended up leading every single lap of both his races.

Brandon Weaver took over the lead from Ryan Jones just before the mid-point of race 1 for Group 5 and held it to the end to take the checkers ahead of Ryan Jones. Whitney Bellows drove a fast race to come up from the 11th spot on the grid to finish third.

Ryan Jones made amends in race 2, in what turned out to be a thrilling conclusion to the weekend. Jones led the race form the get-go, but had Weaver chomping at his gearbox throughout. On the last lap, Jones and Bellows exchanged the lead twice before Jones prevailed at the line by half a second. Third was Bellows who snared the position from Peter Tucker on the penultimate go around, after having maintained the position for most of the race.

Steve Davis won the Master’s Memorial from Peter Ponder-Pistor and John Browne to conclude the weekend and the series.

-George Tamayo

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers J.J. Fischer , Davy Cook , Leonardo Maia , John Hall , Patrick Long , Skip Barber , John Knudsen , Ben Freudenberg , Quentin Wahl , Nick Jones , Tim Traver