SBRS: VIR qualifying notes

Matos takes pole for race one, Pyragius takes pole for race two. Qualifying for rounds two and three of the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine took place at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia and ...

Matos takes pole for race one, Pyragius takes pole for race two.

Qualifying for rounds two and three of the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER Magazine took place at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia and provided plenty of excitement, as the wet conditions created challenging track conditions which kept the drivers on their toes as they were forced to constantly adjust to the track. Rafael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who took the pole at the opening round in Sebring, kept his streak alive as he took the pole for the first race of the weekend, scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Saturday. Aivara Pyragius of Kedainiai, Lithuania, secured the pole for the second National race of the weekend, which is scheduled to get underway at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

The first qualifying session greeted the drivers with a steady rain, forcing the field to take the rain line around the 3.27-mile track and rewarding good judgment when it came to the use of the throttle, and robbing the drivers of visibility as they fought the rooster tails of water that were kicked up by their fellow competitors. The conditions set the stage for what became a two-car battle for the pole between Ben Freudenberg and Rafael Matos for pole position. The two exchanged the fast laps throughout the entire 25 minute session, with Freudenberg holding the lead at the ten- and twenty-minute marks, but Matos kept coming back with laps that were right on pace with Freudenberg. With just a minute remaining in the session, Matos held a slight edge over Freudenberg by a razor thin margin of just .016 of a second over Matos on the 3.27-mile long course at VIR.

Matos, though, got one final lap free of traffic, and made the most of it, setting a fast time of 2.29.806 seconds to secure the pole and take the championship point that goes with it. Matos was happy with his effort, and revealed that he had put a lot of pressure on himself at the to get the pole.

"I let all the other cars go by me at the end of the session, and I knew I had only one lap to get it right," said the Barber-Champ Car Scholarship driver. "I was kind of nervous, since I knew it was my only good fast lap, and if I made a mistake, I wouldn't have the pole. Fortunately, it worked out and I was able to put in a good lap, and take the pole and the championship point that comes with it."

The second qualifying session took place gave the drivers a bit of a break, as the rain ended, and the clouds gave way to partly sunny conditions, which helped to develop a drying line. The session netted an ever-moving set of fast laps as the bar was lowered every time the field crossed the line for the entire 25 minute session. In what was described as a "tough session" by National Championship Lead Driver Coach Barry Waddell, Aicara Pyragius secured the pole in the closing moments of the session. Pyragius was surprised to discover that he had set the fastest time in the session, as he had been caught in traffic late in the session and didn't think he had set the time to make it but had nonetheless timed the end of his session perfectly, as he got the last run on the ever-drying track to take the pole, scoring his first point of the 2003 championship.

"The car was handling so great during that session that I was really frustrated at the end, since I thought I wouldn't be able to get a good lap in with the traffic, but it looks like I did!" said Pyragius, who hails from Kedainiai, Lithuania.

More than ten different drivers held the pole position during the session as the times dropped throughout as the track dried. Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Florida had a strong session and ended the session securing the second qualifying spot for the second race of the weekend.

"I tried using the draft in the early parts of the session, but since there was so much dirt being kicked up all around the track, I decided to let everyone by and just run by myself, and it worked out well," said Bonilla. "The track got faster and faster every lap, and it was just a question of daring yourself to go faster every time around, it was a lot of fun out there."

The first race of the weekend for the National Championship will get underway at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, with the second race of the weekend scheduled to get underway at 1:00 p.m. Full results and story to be posted on www.skipbarber.com.

<pre> RACE ONE TOP FIVE GRID Rafeal Matos 2:29.806 Ben Freudenberg 2:30.443 Philippe Gelinas 2:30.854 Salvador Duran 2:30.892 Gerardo Bonilla 2:31.012

RACE TWO TOP FIVE GRID Aivara Pyragius 2:18.030 Gerardo Bonilla 2:18.366 Raphael Matos 2:18.569 Zilvinas Oskutis 2:18.766 Ben Freudenberg 2:19.464

Top Five Points Standings ( updated) Raphael Matos 18 Brian Frisselle 14 Ben Freudenberg 12 Ward Imrie 11 Matt Jaskol 10

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Ward Imrie , Salvador Duran , Ben Freudenberg , Brian Frisselle , Gerardo Bonilla , Matt Jaskol , Barry Waddell