The rain-soaked weekend finale to the F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta concluded Saturday with Dakota Dickerson claiming his second victory of the season. Taking the checkered six seconds ahead of second-place finisher Baltazar Leguizamon, Dickerson drove a flawless race, but the rough start to his weekend allowed Jacob Abel, who closed out the weekend in third, to edge out the F4 U.S. reigning champ in the season-long championship standings by a single point to take the lead, respectively.
“What a crazy weekend! Ups and downs were the name of the game,” said Dickerson, who had a third-place finish earlier in the weekend after starting 13th due to a mechanical failure. “We had fantastic pace all weekend but were just a bit unlucky. In the first two races of the weekend, we were leading the race before having to make a pitstop for repairs. Nevertheless, the Global Racing Group team stayed focused and persevered through it all. They consistently gave me a great car and we absolutely had the pace and positioning to win all three races this weekend.
“It’s in times of adversity when a team’s true colors show and I have to say, I have never been prouder of how hard everyone at Global Racing Group worked this weekend. We won and lost as a team this weekend. I know we are all hungry for wins going into Pittsburgh.”
Following a light rain, Round 5 of the F3 Americas Championship started on Hankook dry weather tires. Momentum Motorsports lead F3 rookie Kent Vaccaro started pole position after setting the fastest lap time in the previous round. Dickerson started on the outside of Row 1 with Parker Locke and Jacob Abel in Row 2, Leguizamon and Mathias Soler-Obel filled in Row 3. Grids for the second and third races of the weekend are set by the drivers’ fastest lap from the previous session.
A start light malfunction caused the F1-style standing start to be aborted, forcing the 13-car F3 field to a rolling start. When the green flag fell, Dickerson hammered down on his 303-turbocharged Honda 2.0 liter engine, instantly building a gap from the field. From there, the Global Racing Group rookie controlled the pace of the race, never conceding the lead in the all-green session.
Talented on rolling starts, Leguizamon shot to second place before crossing the stripe. However, Soler-Obel and Abel were right on his gearbox. In a three-way battle, Leguizamon, Soler-Obel and Abel contended for position. Losing pace from lap-leader Dickerson, the trio lost speed dicing for position, until John Paul Southern Jr. caught up to make it a four-way fight for second. Spinning on the penultimate lap, Soler-Obel conceded from the podium battle, leaving Leguizamon, Abel and Southern in the competition. Despite significant pressure from behind, Leguizamon defended his podium position, finishing the race in second.
“We had a strong finish to the weekend,” Leguizamon said. “Global Racing Group spent a lot of time on the car to get it up to pace. We will come back even stronger for PITT, and get to that top step.”
After the white flag dropped, Abel finally shook Southern, to take his third podium result of the weekend.
“It was an awesome weekend for the team,” said the Abel Motorsports sophomore. “We knew going in we’d have a leg up, since I raced in F3 at Road Atlanta last year. Already knowing the track, we were able to get down to business preparing for the three races right away, and it paid off big, winning the first two races and coming in third in the finale. It was another outstanding moment for the reigning F3 Americas Championship team, after Abel Motorsports dominated the series last year.”
Southern crossed the line fourth, his best finish of the season, followed by Austin Kaszuba to round out the top five. James Roe Jr., Blake Upton, Locke, Logan Cusson and Shea Holbrook completed the top 10, all earning championship points, respectively.
With qualifying being canceled due to inclement weather, series newcomer Upton had his work cut out for him starting from 13th. The grid for the opening round was set based on championship standing. Since Upton was new to weekend, he didn’t have points to yield a good starting position, forcing the Washington-native to start last. Upton drove from last to finish sixth in his debut round. In the subsequent races, Upton made 10 additional overtakes to earn the Sabelt Hard Charger Award.
“My first race weekend in F3 was really great for me as well as the team,” said Upton. “The start of the first race was a little rocky due to qualifying being canceled. I had to start at the back because I didn’t have points yet. Races 2 and 3 went really well, Finished P5 and P7 so I was pretty happy with that. And at the end of it all, I came away as the hard charger for the weekend which was pretty great. All in all, a really good weekend, and I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh.”
Dominic Cicero netted 10 points for the weekend to earn the Masters Cup contingency award.
The F3 Americas drivers and teams break for about eight weeks before returning to action at Pittsburgh International Race Complex for the Keystone Speedfest June 21-23.