SBRS: Western Championship is off and running

Brett Arsenault, Leonardo Maia and Tamafumi Kamiya were three of the quickest racers in opening round action at the Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship at Laguna Seca. Arsenault and Maia were perfect in both wet and dry conditions. Steve...

Brett Arsenault, Leonardo Maia and Tamafumi Kamiya were three of the quickest racers in opening round action at the Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship at Laguna Seca. Arsenault and Maia were perfect in both wet and dry conditions. Steve Sylvester, Kent Lebo and Joe Pruskowski also scored maximum points, theirs in Master's competition. Are these early results a sign of things to come or merely aberrations?

On the first day of racing, under ominous skies, Group 1 Race 1 took to the 2.24 mile road course on slick tires. Arsenault claimed his first win of the weekend and season in front of Keith Basso and Erich Joiner. Rookie Wade Gaughran, who finished in fourth, turned in the quickest lap of the race with a time of 1:41.259 sec.

John Knudsen, a potential contender for the championship, recorded the win in Group 2 Race 1. Nick Jones and Seiji Tojima followed in second and third place.

Under worsening weather, Arsenault won for the second time in two tries in Group 3 Race 1, completing the fastest lap of the group in 1:41.580 sec. Bradon Weaver and Tim Traver took the second and third place positions on the rostrum. After the contest, as rain pelted the circuit, race action was postponed until the following day.

With only three groups able to track on Saturday, Sunday promised to be a long and damp day. Seven groups would go out on wet tires, two that had been scheduled for Saturday and five for Sunday. Racing would be competitive yet dicey given the slippery conditions.

In Group 4 Race 1, Tamafumi Kamiya nosed out Jon Vannini by 0.06 sec. to register his first win of season. Kent Lebo followed the pair to the stripe in third. Spare a thought for Whitney Bellows who suffered a crash during warm-up. A sign of things to come? Bellows hopes not.

Leonardo Maia earned a seemingly easy win in Group 5 Race 1. Not to be overlooked was Brian Johnson's second place result. Johnson took his first podium on his young career after advancing from 14th at the start. Nick Mavridis was the third place finisher.

Back on schedule, Group 1 Race 2 went on track and saw Arsenault win his third race. Kent Lebo and Lester Quam finished in second and third place. Burt Frisselle was the most progressive racer of the field, finishing in fourth place after a ninth place start. Lap times suffered significantly due to wet track conditions. Arsenault, who tripped 1:41.280 sec. a day earlier, took the win with a time of 2:08.965 sec.

In Group 2, Race 2, Justin Pruskowski, the son of Master racer Joe Pruskowski, won after a start from the 10th spot. Pruskowski, a new driver from Seattle, also promises to be worth watching this season. Steve Sylvester and Nick Jones were the second and third place finishers. This contest featured a bizarre start to the race. Steve Torrence, John Knudsen and Jon Vannini were involved in an incident at turn-1 just at the crest of the brow. The contact, primarily between Vannini and a parked Knudsen, was spectacular and resulted in lots of spare parts strewn on the track. The race was black flagged while the crew brought about order.

Arsenault was at it again in Group 3 Race 2, registering his fourth win of the weekend. Bradon Weaver and Tim Traver were next best, finishing in second and third place. Lloyd Thornburg and Peter Ponder-Pistor were involved in a scrap in turn-6 when Ponder-Pistor hit the wall and recoiled to a vulnerable spot. Both drivers reported no injuries.

By Group 4 Race 2, lap times were starting to drop as racers found better grip and perhaps more confidence. Jon Vannini landed his second consecutive podium with the victory. Steve Davis took the checkered flag in second and Tamafumi Kamiya third.

The last race of a long day featured a Leondardo Maia win in flag-to-flag style. Jon Van Caneghem, another racer to watch, and Brian Johnson followed in second and third place.

The Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship Series moves on to the Phoenix International Raceway on November 18-19.

- Andrew Torres

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Joe Pruskowski , Leonardo Maia , Jon Vannini , Burt Frisselle , Justin Pruskowski , Wade Gaughran , John Knudsen , Brian Johnson , Nick Jones , Tim Traver , Steve Torrence