The F3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda drivers overcame everything an angry Mother Nature threw at that them, including lightning, hard rain, heat and humidity, and put on a great show in the Sebring International Raceway season finale Sept. 13-15. Danish-American Benjamin Pedersen capped off his year with a first career clean sweep, claiming three huge wins that secured a runnerup finish in the F3 Americas championship.
In the opening round on Saturday, Jacob Abel (second) and Mathias Soler-Obel (third) shared the podium with Pedersen. In Race 2, champion-elect Dakota Dickerson and John Paul Southern Jr. completed the top three, while in Sunday’s Race 3, Pederson, Dickerson and Abel finished 1-2-3 to lock in the final championship standings.
“What a fantastic way to finish off the year,” said Pedersen. “Global Racing Group sealed off first and second in the championship. Huge congrats to my teammate Dakota (Dickerson) for taking the championship. Really just happy for the team that we could pay them back for all the hard work they’ve put in for us all year.
“We made big progress this weekend on the car, “Pedersen continued, “and the last session really reflected that. I’m happy to get the first sweep of my career and look forward to celebrating with the team tonight at the banquet.”
Pedersen went lights to checkers in Race 1 to claim his fifth win of the season, while after a heated battle with Dickerson, Abel, in the No. 51 Abel Construction machine, took second, securing fastest lap and setting a new track in-race record (2m01.200s).
In Race 2, Abel started on pole with Pedersen, Dickerson and Soler-Obel right behind. Pedersen got the jump off the line, but wound up in a dogfight with Abel that ended on lap 11 when Abel, after taking the lead in Turn 7, spun off. Safety crews were dispatched to extract his car, and Series Round 15 ended under full-course yellow.
Dickerson crossed the stripe second and Southern worked his way from a fifth-place start to complete the podium in third.
In the weekend finale, Pedersen ran away unchallenged in his black No. 24 DirtFish Rally Global Racing Group car. He finished two seconds ahead of teammate and race runnerup Dickerson and third-placed Abel.
Returning after an extended absence due to scheduling conflicts, Abel was the quickest driver on the bumpy 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit all weekend, setting the fastest times in each of the three 35-minute rounds. Able to participate at only four of the series’ six weekend, the Abel Motorsports driver’s performance at Sebring secured a fourth-place finish in the overall championship.
For the third time this season, Blake Upton received the Sabelt Hard Charger Award for completing the most overtakes to improve his finishing position with eight total passes for the weekend. The Global Racing Group rookie also completed the most passes of the season with 40 total.
Having clinched the championship three rounds early, reigning F4 U.S. champion Dickerson used the final event of the season to focus on raising money for Nowzad Rescue. The organization helps reunite companion animals with American soldiers they have formed a bond with while on deployment in Afghanistan.
Dickerson’s Global Racing Group orange livery boasted dozens of black and white paws with the pets’ names of the donors from all over the world, and more than $5,000 was raised.
“It is a fanatic charity that we’ve supported all year,” the newly crowned F3 Americas champion explained. “For just $10, people could have their pets’ names on the car with a paw print, and it’s gotten a lot of traction. We had donors from all over the world — Japan, Brazil, Spain, UK, Canada and obviously the U.S.; and all kinds of animals, too — cats, dogs, a turtle, snake, donkey and bird.”
Dickerson finished the season with 269 points from five wins, six additional top-three finishes and four top 10s. As a part-time season driver for Global Racing Group, Pedersen made each of his 10 rounds count, winning seven races, picking up two more top-three results and a top-10 finish to finish the season with 210 points. Soler-Obel (161 points) edged out Abel by just seven points for third.
For full results, post-race photos and race weekend highlight videos visit F3Americas.com.