Road Atlanta Race Weekend: Freibergs fly in Braselton

Sunday, November 22, 2009 Braselton, Ga. was the second stop for the Skip Barber Southern Race Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour as the drivers took to the 2.54-miles of Road Atlanta for Races 3 and 4 of their 2009-2010 campaigns . If you like come from behind racing and family one-upmanship (or is it one-uppersonship?) then Road Atlanta was your Race Weekend.

Click here to see images from the weekend
Click here for complete results
Click here for points standings

Group 1, Race 1 – Southern Race Series
Ashley Freiberg picked up the pole for Race 1 and led an 18-strong field to the green flag followed closely by Kevin Tittle and Trent Hindman. The trio took off on the rest of the field, with Freiberg stretching out her lead on second and third. Meanwhile out back, C.J. Wilson was working his way toward the front.

A spin in qualifying relegated Wilson to a 17th starting position, and at the drop of the green he began picking off competitors almost immediately, gaining five positions on the opening lap. Wilson picked up another four positions on the second lap before settling into tenth for the middle portion of the race. Taking ninth on Lap 8, Wilson moved into eighth where he would finish.

At the front of the field it was Ashley Freiberg picking up her second win of the season in convincing fashion over Kevin Tittle, stretching out a 4.29-second margin of victory. Trent Hindman came in third, a further five seconds back from the lead. David Libby and Jim Norman rounded out the top five, ahead of Jason Wolfe and Peter Tucker. C.J. Wilson came home with the aforementioned eighth in front of Scott Anderson while Gary Gerrard rounded out the top ten.

Group 2, Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour
If you were impressed with C.J. Wilson’s progression, you’re really going like what Andrew Hendricks did in MAZDASPEED Challenge. After a spin on his cool-off lap in qualifying cost him the pole, Hendricks found himself 12th at the drop of the green flag. He had 13 laps to make up 11 positions… and he almost did it.

David Levine and Matt Koskinen led the field to the green flag, both leading a lap before surrendering the point to Brian Freiberg. Freiberg and Koskinen vied for the lead for the middle section of the race. Contact is almost inevitable in close racing, and when you do it in the braking zone at the end of Road Altanta’s long back straight it won’t be minor. The shunt sent Koskinen to the pits for a mandatory safety check and Freiberg to the house; his car too damaged to continue.

The Lap 8 incident shuffled Tyler Wolfson to the lead followed by John Snyder and Andrew Hendricks. Hendricks, who set quick lap of the race with a 1:46.188, worked his way toward the front, challenging then besting Snyder for second place but running out of time to catch the leader and race winner Wolfson. Hendricks came up 2.2-seconds short of the winner to grab second. Snyder finished third, ahead of polesitter David Levine and Keith Holdbrooks. Ken Greenberg finished ahead of Robert Hill while Matt Koskinen recovered from his mid-race shunt to finish eighth. Ed Lever moved up on spot from his starting position to finish ninth while David Steinschraber rounded out the top ten.

Group 3, Race 1 – Southern Race Series
Not to be outdone by C.J. Wilson or Andrew Hendricks was Tomas Saldana. Saldana, preparing for next month’s Karting Scholarship Shoot-out, was one of SEVEN drivers who had their times disallowed because of a spin or four-off during qualifying. His spin dropped him from sixth to 14th in a field headed by points contenders Felix Serralles and Dennis Trebing.

Trebing and Serralles took off and hid from the field; their best lap times a full three seconds quicker than the third quickest best time, that belonging to Tomas Saldana. While Trebing and Serralles battled for the lead, Saldana set about working his way to the front. While Saldana ultimately made it to third place by the end of the race, he wasn’t the most progressive driver as his 11 position improvement was bested by the 12 position improvement by Masters driver Dom Bastien.

Bastien, who like Saldana found himself penalized for an off course excursion during qualifying, started the race in 18th. Using his familiarity with the track to his advantage, he picked off drivers one by one, worked the lap traffic and by Lap 7 he was up to sixth. By this time the field had stabilized with Tomas Saldana taking the lead from Dennis Trebing for the final time on that same Lap 7, and taking advantage of that lap traffic to score the win by 2.9-seconds. Tomas Saldana finished his charge to the front in third, ahead of Chris Oliver and Brian Whitmire. Dom Bastien held on to his sixth place, ahead of Paul Fisk and C.J. Wilson. Tristan Nunez, who started alongside Bastien on the last row, was almost as progressive, gaining ten spots from the start to finish ninth while Jim Norman rounded out the top ten.

Group 1, Race 2
Whereas bad luck in qualifying can result in some dramatic charges from the rear in Race 1, Race 2’s typically are more stable since your starting position is determined by where you finished in Race 1. Race 1 winner Ashley Freiberg took the early lead from pole but was quickly challenged by Kevin Tittle and Trent Hindman, the trio distancing themselves from the rest of the field to settle the win. Freiberg led the most laps with Tittle taking the point twice during the race before a spin in Turn 3 late dropped him to third.

At the finish it was Ashley Freiberg sweeping the weekend with a comfortable 6-second victory over Trent Hindman. The leaders being far enough ahead of the pack that Kevin Tittle was able to stop for his safety check on the final lap, crossing the finish line in the pits and barely nip Jim Norman for third. Scott Anderson gained the most positions in Race 2, coming from 9th to finish fifth ahead of David Libby. Peter Tucker finished in seventh while C.J. Wilson, Jason Wolfe and Gary Gerrard rounded out the top ten

Group 2, Race 2
While a bad qualifying session can make for an exciting Race 1, Race 2 can be made exciting by a fast driver catching a bad break and finishing down in the order. Such was the case with Brian Freiberg. Freiberg, knocked out of Race 1 after contact with Matt Koskinen, started last in Race 2. Not wanting to be shown up by kid sister Ashley, Brian went to work on the field. With lap times that were consistently a half second quicker than the rest of the field, Freiberg was in the top five (technically fourth) by Lap7, to third place two laps later, into second with a lap to go, where he went after Race 1 winner Tyler Wolfson for the win.

Coming down the back straight for the final time, Wolfson held the advantage over Freiberg but spun under braking for Turn 10, allowing Brian Freiberg to take the lead and complete his last-to-first run with the win. Wolfson recovered to cross the line in second but a 40-second time penalty for the four-off relegated him to 11th in the final results. John Snyder grabbed second place by just under a second from Keith Holdbrooks while Ward Herst and MattKoskinen rounded out the top five. David Levine brought his MX-5 home in sixth ahead of Ken Greenberg and David Steinschraber while Dan Moen and Robert Hill rounded out the top ten.

Group 3, Race 2
The last race of the weekend got off to an inauspicious start as Tomas Saldana went off into the kitty litter in Turn 5 on the opening lap, bringing out the full course yellow. Saldana was quickly extracted by the Road Atlanta crew and racing resumed on Lap 4 with the front row of Felix Serralles and Dennis Trebing 1-2 followed by Dom Bastien.

The second full course yellow came out on Lap 10 when Linda Doppes hooked it in Turn 7 and ended up in the tire wall. The yellow bunched the field up behind the pace car for a final race to the finish with Serralles in the lead, Trebing in second and Chris Oliver in third.

When the green flag flew, Trebing got the jump and took the lead from Serralles going into Turn 1. Dom Bastien, running fourth when the green flag came out, went off big in Turn 5, rolling over three times and bringing out the black flag. Bastien emerged from his car unhurt, but with daylight fading the decision was made to call the race and revert back to the last completed lap. The decision meant that Felix Serralles as leader of the last completed lap was awarded the win over a disappointed Dennis Trebing, with Chris Oliver in third. Jim Norman was scored in fourth ahead of Paul Fisk and Tristan Nunez. C.J. Wilson brought his car home in seventh followed by Brian Cook and Gus Doppes while John Mitchell rounded out the top ten.

After the first two Race Weekends of the 2009-2010 season it is the Flying Freibergs with the points leads in the Southern Race Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour. The pair of wins gives Ashley Freiberg a six-point advantage in the Southern Series over Dennis Trebing with Trent Hindman not far behind in third. David Libby, fourth in overall points holds the Grand Masters points lead while Chris Oliver rounds out the top five and is the Master’s points leader. In MAZDASPEED Challenge, Brian Freiberg holds a slight two-point lead over Tyler Wolfson while Ward Herst is third overall and first in Masters.

Next up for the Skip Barber Southern Race Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour is the road course at the Homestead-Miami Speedway the weekend of January 23-24.

Jim Altemus

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