SBRS: Western Regional racers take on Fontana

The Formula Dodge Western Regional Series took its first shot at the California Speedway in the R/T 2000 as 37 racers competed on the 3.0-mile road circuit for the first time this season. The newer, more technically advanced race car was ...

The Formula Dodge Western Regional Series took its first shot at the California Speedway in the R/T 2000 as 37 racers competed on the 3.0-mile road circuit for the first time this season. The newer, more technically advanced race car was instrumental in allowing several drivers to break the track record set in the Formula Dodge race car. Brett Arsenault and Leonardo Maia still lead the Western Series in points but Tophie Stewart and John Knudsen are within drafting distance, positioned third and fourth in the overall tally. In Master's competition, Steve Sylvester maintains his lead in the 40-plus category ahead of Peter Ponder-Pistor and Lester Quam.

In group 1 race 1, Tophie Stewart won over Burt Friselle by a thin 0.10 sec. in the opening race of the weekend. Friselle set fastest lap of the group with a time of 1:57.46 sec. Peter Ponder-Pistor turned his drafting into an art form to take third place and the Masters win from a hard-charging Lester Quam. The California Speedway is a track that highlights the importance of drafting. This contest featured multiple passes and re-passes on the long front straight and into turns-1 and 2. Newcomer Brian Kellogg showed well, moving from tenth to eighth in his first Skip Barber Race Series contest.

Group 2 action saw Brian Angen jump the lead early and then benefit from a John Knudsen spin out of second place late in the race that promoted Keith Basso to second and Tamafumi Kamiya to third. Basso earned most-progressive driver of the bunch, having started in 11th to advance to his first podium of the weekend. Richard Smith-Allen claimed the win in the Master's group.

In the last race of the day, Tophie Stewart motored to a 14-second margin victory after Tim Traver spun out of second place and left Peter Ponder-Pistor to collect yet another podium finish and another Masters win. John Medford, who had started in third, took the final top-3 spot after a drafting battle with fourth place finisher Hirotoshi Takeuchi.

In the second day's action, Peter Ponder-Pistor continued his winning streak in Master's competition and claimed an outright win over Seiji Tojima and Brian Johnson in second and third. Tophie Stewart looked like the lock winner until he ran out of fuel with two laps to go. A spin by Burt Friselle deprived him of a second podium finish.

In group 2 race 2, John Knudsen and Brian Angen staged one of the more exciting races of the weekend. Knudsen edged Angen out by a mere 0.007 sec. in the closest result of the weekend. The victor set a new lap record of 1:55.815 sec. along the way, a full five seconds under the old lap record. Keith Basso rounded out the top-3 with his third place result. Dave House earned the Masters victory in this contest.

In group 3 race 2, an excited Tommy Contino claimed his first ever Skip Barber race win in action that saw multiple lead changes and numerous passes. Hirotoshi Takeuchi and John Medford followed Contino home in second and third. Tophie Stewart made a rare mistake on the second to last lap when he attempted to outbrake Takeuchi for the lead, going into turn-3. The miscue dropped him to a ninth place finish. Peter Ponder-Pistor wrapped up a successful weekend with another Master's victory.

In the W. Hewlett Memorial, the top-3 finishers all advanced from back of the pack to earn their result. John Knudsen came from 16th to win in an exciting reverse grid start. Tim Traver came home in second place after starting from ninth. Brian Angen was equally strong and rounded out the podium after a start from the 15th spot.

The Western Regional Series returns to California Speedway on February 24-25.

- Andrew Torres

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Leonardo Maia , Skip Barber , John Knudsen , Brian Johnson , Tim Traver , Dave House