The final race of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course may have ended in yellow, but the excitement during the weekend finale left spectators on their feet.
Cameron Das of Brooklandville, Maryland, shot out of the standing start from his pole position, gaining a substantial lead over his competitors. Das, driving the metallic blue and white JDX Racing Zero Chroma F4 U.S. car, went the entire race uncontested and capitalized on his first-place position.
“It feels great to see victory circle,” Das said. “All the hard work we put in this weekend really paid off. We worked on the car a lot and saw big improvements. I just needed to stay consistent, put good laps in and stay on track. We were extremely happy with the end results.”
While Das set the pace for Race 3, it was the field behind him that caused exhilarating spectating. With seven minutes left in the 30-minute round, Raphael Forcier of Montreal and Austin Kaszuba of Burleson, Texas, went into turn one battling for position. Kaszuba, who was on the outside of Forcier, cut in closer to defend his line, leaving a gap of space for Benjamin Pedersen to make a high-risk, high-reward move that if done successfully, would catapult him four positions forward.
“I was a couple positions behind Austin and Raphael,” Pederson said. “I saw the two of them battling and took that advantage to get a good run out of turn one.”
In a thrilling display of open-wheel racing, three F4 U.S. drivers went three wide in the Keyhole with Forcier on the inside of the turn, Pedersen on the outside and Kaszuba in the middle. As the competitors tried to straighten out of the turn, there was only room for one competitor and no one in the group would cease their track position. Forcier made incidental contact with Kaszuba, causing a ping-pong ball effect into Pedersen. Pedersen went up onto two wheels into the wall before it tilted back over right-side-up. The incident would cause a full course yellow and Forcier and Pedersen would not return to the race.
All competitors involved in the incident were not injured and the race concluded in yellow.
Friday podium finishers Skylar Robinson of Augusta, Georgia, and Jackie Ding of Shenzen, China, struggled in Race 3. Robinson started seventh on the grid and finished the race 12th after experiencing difficulties late in the race. Ding stalled on the start, leaving him in last place. Ding tried to play catch-up the entire race, but his Race 3 top-10 hopes ended after spinning into the gravel. Ding was extracted with front end damage and did not return the race. He finished 15th.
Baltazar Leguizamon of Buenos Aries, Argentina, withdrew from the race before false grid line-up.
The F4 U.S. competitors meet again in just 13 days at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey, from August 26-28 for the third race event of the season.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Pedersen