After a season debut during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama earlier this month, the F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda travels to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, April 18-20 for the championship’s first triple-header event. With the full field of drivers scoring points in the opening two rounds, the competition intensifies as the 13-car line-up faces the high elevation changes and fast turns of Road Atlanta.
Danish driver Benjamin Pedersen, who was filling in for his Global Racing Group teammate Blake Upton of Sammamish, Washington, after Upton suffered a minor injury in a pre-event test, catapulted to the top of the standings following a win and a second-place finish at Barber. However, Pedersen makes his European racing debut this weekend in British BRDC F3, leaving the top spot in the championship undefended.
Reigning F4 U.S. champion Dakota Dickerson of San Diego tied Pedersen in his F3 Americas inauguration, claiming a second-place finish in the opening round and wrapping up the weekend with a win. With a 16-point gap separating him from returning F3 Americas driver Jacob Abel of Louisville, Kentucky, Dickerson looks to use his experience on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile course to position himself on the crown of the season-long points battle.
“We showed great pace throughout the season opener at Barber,” said Dickerson. “Road Atlanta is one of the tracks I’m most familiar with and I’m fully confident that all of us at Global Racing Group will be toward the front of the pack throughout the weekend.”
Abel is one of just four F3 Americas drivers on this weekend’s roster with experience at Road Atlanta in the Ligier JS F3 car. Last season, the Abel Motorsports pilot scored three top-five finishes.
“I think there is a little bit to having experience on a track before in the same car,” explained Abel. “It’ll help us get to work right away, but at the same time we know this is a very strong field of drivers and any good driver can adapt quickly. Nevertheless, the team and I are really looking forward to this weekend and we’re coming in more confident than ever.”
Following a successful first season in F4 U.S., Global Racing Group called up Upton to make his F3 Americas debut this season, but a minor injury forced Upton to withdraw from first two rounds. Now fully healed, the GRG rookie is ready to make an impact in results for the team just as his substitute Pedersen accomplished.
“I am really looking forward to my first weekend back in the No. 19 Inde Motorsports Ranch / Versium Data Analytics / FinishLine Consulting Group / Racing for Good Global Racing Group car. I got to warm-up this morning during the promoter test session and it felt really good to be back behind the wheel,” Upton said. “I missed Barber due to an injury I sustained during a team practice but I am thankful that my teammate Benjamin Pedersen was able to step in and earn mega points for the team.”
James Roe Jr. of Country Kildare, Ireland, and Kent Vaccaro of Plattsburgh, New York, round out the top-five in the championship. Closely matched entering into the weekend, both rookies competed at Road Atlanta last year in other formula championships.
“Road Atlanta is a fast, long and flowing race track and a facility that will suit the F3 Ligier nicely,” said Roe. “There were many positives from we took away from Barber, including the speed of our team, finding areas where we can improve and where we have positioned ourselves in the championship. I can’t wait to get the weekend started.”
The Formula Car Festival kicks off with drivers participating in a pair of official practices on Thursday. Friday opens with qualifying and the first of three 35-minute races. The weekend culminates on Saturday with the final two rounds. Fans can follow live timing and scoring on F3Americas.com or on the Race Monitor app.
F3 Americas Road Atlanta schedule:
Thursday, April 18
Practice 1: 10:30-11:00am ET
Practice 2: 4:00-4:40pm ET
Friday, April 19
Qualifying: 10:20-10:50am ET
Race 1: 2:50-3:40am ET
Saturday, April 20
Race 2: 10:00-10:50am ET
Race 3: 2:50-3:40pm ET