Augusto Soto-Schirripa was the star of United States Formula 4’s round at Virginia International Raceway.
Patrick Woods-Toth was fastest by 0.562 seconds over Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport team-mate Titus Sherlock in practice, but just 0.001s split Sherlock and Daniel Cara in third. Alex Berg and Michael Costello were the only other two drivers within a second of the pace.
Qualifying went the way of Jay Howard Driver Development driver Costello, a 1m57.134s laptime earning him pole by 0.419s over Woods-Toth. Bacon Zelenka continued his recent strong form by going third fastest, and International Motorsport’s Soto-Schirripa marked his championship return by qualifying fourth. The top seven were covered by 0.938s.
Race one on Saturday morning took place on a very wet track, and Woods-Toth challenged Costello for the lead through the opening corners before running out of room and dropping behind Soto-Schirripa.
Lap two started behind the pace car, and the drivers were not released to race again until lap five. There was immediate drama as Costello slid off at the Horseshoe hairpin while James Lawley and Christopher Parrish spun off.
Soto-Schirripa found himself with a big lead over a three-car fight for second between Alex Berg, Sherlock and Luciano Martinez, and Costello tried to make up ground but ended up spinning off at the last corner.
Eric Wisniewski skated off and fell down the order from eighth place on lap seven, then Sherlock spun while going through Snake but only lost a few spots and did not get hit. Later in the lap Martinez tried passing Berg but also spun, and race control brought the pace car out again for lap eight then decided to wave the chequered flag at the end of it with time still left on the race clock.
That locked in Soto-Schirripa as the winner, ahead of Berg, Woods-Toth and Cara.
Martinez failed to score but did get fastest lap, putting him on pole for the dry race two ahead of Woods-Toth, Berg and Cara.
Within a lap he had dropped to sixth, while Woods-Toth led Berg. On lap two the top two went side-by-side down the back straight and Berg had his nose ahead but Woods-Toth had the inside line for Roller Coaster so did not lose the lead.
Soto-Schirripa ran in third, and on lap five had a go at passing Berg but ran out of room on the back straight. Berg passed Woods-Toth at Horseshoe on lap seven but then immediately spun down to 12th and later retired.
A caution period later on set up a last-lap lead battle, and Soto-Schirripa got past Woods-Toth on the back straight to win.
Ava Dobson and Tyke Durst crashed out at Horseshoe, and Jesse Lacey went into the barriers at Oak Tree.
The next day, stewards handed three-place grid penalties to Berg and Dobson, and a 30s penalty to Woods-Toth, for causing collisions. Costello also got a 10s penalty.
That dropped Woods-Toth from second to 15th and Costello from fourth to 14th, and lifted Cara and Kekai Hauanio to second and third. Martinez benefited to finish seventh.
Before crashing out, Lacey set the fastest lap so earned pole for race three on Sunday. He converted it into victory, leading by 3.269s after one lap but by just 0.345s when a race-ending caution period began on lap 13.
Cara tried going around the outside of Soto-Schirripa at Horseshoe for second on lap one but ended up dropping to ninth.
Woods-Toth took second, then Costello claimed the position on lap two. Hauanio was closest to Lacey on lap three, and on lap four Berg and Costello collided after Berg dived down his inside at Horseshoe.
On lap eight Woods-Toth passed Hauanio, but on lap 12 Hauanio snuck back past and finished in second. Soto-Schirripa ran as low as 10th before making his way up to fourth, just ahead of Cara and Sherlock.
Woods-Toth, Costello and Sherlock are now the remaining title contenders with one round to go.
Race 1 (8 laps)
1 Augusto Soto-Schirripa International Motorsport 30m16.045s
2 Alex Berg Doran Motorsports Group +0.738s
3 Patrick Woods-Toth Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +1.615s
4 Daniel Cara Cara Origin Motorsports +1.815s
5 Kekai Hauanio New’T Racing +2.323s
6 Titus Sherlock Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +2.573s
7 Hannah Greenemeier Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +3.449s
8 Tanner DeFabis JHDD +4.220s
9 Luciano Martinez Scuderia Buell +5.947s
10 Alex Benavitz Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport +6.467s
Pole: Michael Costello, 1m57.134s
Fastest lap: Martinez, 2m18.562s
Race 2 (12 laps)
1 Soto-Schirripa 31m55.452s
2 Cara +0.423s
3 Hauanio +1.978s
4 Sherlock +2.304s
5 Benavitz +2.435s
6 Greenemeier +2.676s
7 Martinez +2.955s
8 Bacon Zelenka Bacon Racing +3.666s
9 James Lawley Atlantic Racing Team +4.477s
10 Michael Boyiadzis JHDD +5.571s
FL: Jesse Lacey, 1m57.615s
Race 3 (14 laps)
1 Lacey Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport 29m56.185s
2 Hauanio +0.435s
3 Woods-Toth +1.267s
4 Soto-Schirripa +2.336s
5 Cara +2.535s
6 Sherlock +2.834s
7 Benavitz +3.348s
8 Zelenka +3.779s
9 Christopher Parrish IGY6 Motorsports +4.418s
10 Lawley +5.148s
FL: Soto-Schirripa, 1m57.229s
1 Woods-Toth 208.5 2 Costello 142 3 Sherlock 140 4 Berg 127.5 5 Lacey 120.5 6 Soto-Schirripa 112 7 Cara 111.5 8 Hauanio 57 9 Lewis Hodgson 55.5 10 Jimmie Lockhart 50