Entering the second half of the season, F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda invades Virginia International Raceway for the Andy Scriven Race Weekend. With top championship contenders Baltazar Leguizamon and Jacob Abel missing the three-round weekend due to conflicts, the door has opened for points leader Dakota Dickerson to extend his lead. But, it also lends the opportunity for other drivers to break through into podium positions.
Benjamin Pedersen, Shea Holbrook and Quinlan Lall return to the roster for the championship’s first visit to the technical 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. All three drivers have earned podiums in previous F3 Americas rounds, meaning that anyone could end Dickerson’s four-round winning streak.
“It’s exciting to see some new and competitive faces coming into F3 Americas,” said Global Racing Group driver Dickerson. “I think there is continuously growing interest in the series, which is great for all parties involved. Leading the championship at the halfway point feels great but there is still a lot of racing left this season, so I’ve been working hard to make sure we can snake more race wins.”
One of the drivers looking to dethrone Dickerson from the top step, happens to be one of his Global Racing Group teammates, Danish-American driver Benjamin Pedersen. Taking a short break from the BRDC F3 Championship during an off-race weekend, Pedersen is filling in for Leguizaomon in effort to add more points to the Global Racing Group’s growing team championship lead. Coming off strong results including race wins on two continents, Pedersen topped the result sheets in Friday’s official practices, laying down the fastest times in both sessions.
“I’m really looking forward to being back with Global Racing Group for another round of F3 Americas this season,” said Pedersen. “We had a strong showing at Barber Motorsports Park together with the NTT IndyCar series, and during practice at VIR the team and I didn’t skip a beat. It was like I never left. I’m overall happy with the progress we made in practice. I am feeling very confident with the balance of the car for qualifying.”
In what was supposed to be a one-off event weekend filling in for Holbrook at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Lall’s successful debut earned him a seat piloting the No. 49 Momentum Motorsports car for VIR. Lall completed his opening weekend with two top-five results and a podium finish. The New Jersey Native was just as fast at VIR today in practices, edging Dickerson out of the top-three times in Practice 2.
“Returning to F3 Americas after Pittsburgh, is very exciting for me,” Lall said. “It started out as me just replacing Shea for the weekend. I had 10 days to get physically and mentally ready for the weekend as I had been in a car for two years. I felt really comfortable after the two-days of testing. The race weekend went well and we got third in the last race. That podium opened up opportunities for me to network and return the series again. VIR is a track that I’ve been to, so now, it’s just getting used to the F3 car on the track.”
After missing Rounds 6-8 at PITT Race due to a scheduling conflict, Holbrook is back in her No. 67 Lucas Oil Momentum Motorsports car. The W-Series driver rolled out a new patriotic livery in honor of Lucas Oil’s 30th anniversary during practice on Friday. Holbrook’s practice day was cut short after experiencing some minor mechanical issues in the final round, but she said that she is confident in her Momentum Motorsports team to get issues sorted before race day.
Colombian rookie Mathias Soler-Obel was also fast in Friday’s practice, clocking the third and second fastest times during the two official practice sessions. Driving the No. 14 Equidem Management Velocity Racing Development machine, Soler-Obel was only eight hundredths of a second off Pedersen’s pace in Practice 2.
“We’ve been working hard with the team to get the car right,” said Soler-Obel. “By getting the second fastest time in the last practice, it showed our progress.”
Other drivers to watch this weekend are John Paul Southern Jr. and James Roe Jr. Battling Abel and Lall in the final two rounds at PITT Race, Southern nearly stole the last step on the podium in both rounds. Sitting fourth in the season-long championship, Roe has the speed and consistent results to also enter into the top-three, and with his main rivals, Leguizamon and Abel, out this weekend, Roe has the perfect opportunity to take his first podium result.
A field of 13 drivers open Saturday with a 30-minute qualifying with Race 1 at 1:55pm ET. The Andy Scriven Memorial Race weekend culminates on Sunday with two 35-minute rounds of racing (9:05 a.m. ET and 2:05 p.m. ET). For live timing, full race results and more information on F3, visit F3Americas.com. For post-race video highlights follow F3 Americas on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @F3Americas.