SBRS: VIR rounds two and three preview

Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine Preview--Rounds Two and Three Friday, April 25th: Qualifying One Saturday, April 26th: Qualifying Two, Race One (30 minutes) Sunday, April 27th: Race Two (30 ...

Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine
Preview--Rounds Two and Three
Friday, April 25th: Qualifying One
Saturday, April 26th: Qualifying Two, Race One (30 minutes)
Sunday, April 27th: Race Two (30 minutes)

This weekend marks the second meeting of the 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine as the young guns of the Barber-Champ Car Ladder assemble at Virginia International Raceway to contest rounds two and three of the thirteen-round season. Twenty-four drivers are entered for the invitation-only championship, and each will be utilizing the Formula Dodge R/T2000, identically prepared by the Skip Barber Racing crew.

The opening round at Sebring International Raceway in mid-March produced a dramatic race, as Rafael Matos, who led every session of the weekend on his way to leading the most laps of the race, was bested in the closing laps by a hard-charging Matt Jaskol for the win after a late-race yellow forced a restart with just two laps remaining. Matos, who is a Barber-Champ Car Scholarship Driver, was disappointed but philosophical about not netting the win, and is hoping to make Virginia International Raceway the site of his first win in Formula Dodge National competition.

The layout on the 3.27-mile Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia, with its elevation changes, narrow track, and combination of tight, technical corners and long straits is a stark contrast from the layout of the opening round race in Sebring, which provided plenty of passing opportunities with its wide airport runway-based track and fast corners. The tight layout of V.I.R. will put a premium on a strong qualifying effort, as the drivers will find it more difficult to move forward in the field than was the case in Sebring.

The drivers are excited about racing at V.I.R., as they view the facility as a true drivers track that rewards both courage and technical capability, as well as having several grin-inducing corner combinations.

"I think this track should make for closer racing than we had in Sebring," said Sebring race winner Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada. "In Sebring, you could go three and four wide, and we did, but this track is just too narrow for that. It will be a matter of making one pass at a time, rather than in Sebring, where you could pick two guys off at a time if you had a good run out of a corner. That should keep us all in closer contact to each other, and should be pretty exciting."

The weekend forecast calls for rain, which should provide another set of challenges for the field, and several of the drivers are looking forward to learning the fast way around VIR in the wet.

"It should be even more interesting if it rains," said John Angelone of Bridgewater, New Jersey. "There are areas where you have to be really precise on this track, with several compromise corners leading onto the long straights which then lead to some passing zones, so you have to be thinking well ahead of your car to set up a pass. There is nothing like going through the 'S's' here, it's a blast, just like a roller coaster."

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last years champion, Grant Maimen, who will compete this summer in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull Formula One Drivers search, to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has risen from the Karting Scholarship ranks up to become a Champ Car World Series pilot with American Spirit Team Johansen Racing. Other graduates include 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger, 2002 FF2000 Champion Brian Sellars, and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser, Scott Proirier, Leo Maia, and Colin Fleming.

The 2003 Championship again features a field deep in talent comprised of champions from lower formulae and karting. Raphael Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, secured his Barber-Champ Car Scholarship at Sebring last December in the Formula Dodge National Run-Off, and is hoping to convert this opportunity into a championship. The young Brazilian was quickest in every session during the event, and is hoping to keep the pace up through the 2003 season. Four other drivers in the field are also members of the Barber-Champ Car Scholarship program, as Joe D'Agostino of Plantation, FL, Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, NV, and David Jurca of Federal Way, WA all secured a funded ride in the 2003 Formula Dodge Championship after impressing in the Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Run-Off in January.

Skip Barber Racing School is the world's leading provider of automotive education and entertainment. With five base locations in Connecticut, Florida, California, and Wisconsin, Skip Barber operates at over twenty tracks nationwide. The Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler, Michelin North America, and Quaker State are key strategic partners for the company. NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500 Champion and Champ Car Champion Juan Montoya, and legend Michael Andretti are but three graduates to have emerged from Skip Barber Racing's nearly thirty years of training and expertise.

International Entry:

The stature of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine as a key rung in the development ladder is reflected in the international interest in the series, with drivers from five different nationalities, Canada, Mexico, Lithuania, Brazil, and the United States, taking part in this years championship.

<pre> Points Standings: Raphael Matos 17 Brian Frisselle 14 Ben Freudenberg 12 Ward Imrie 11 Matt Jaskol 10

-cart/barber

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Andretti , Ward Imrie , Ryan Hunter-Reay , A.J. Allmendinger , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Ben Freudenberg , Brian Frisselle , John Angelone , Joe D'Agostino , Matt Jaskol