Shift Up Now Athlete Ashley Freiberg earned back-to-back victories to extend her Porsche
Sprint Challenge championship lead at Circuit of the Americas on August 26-27, 2023.
The penultimate event of the season featured both the Porsche Sprint Challenge North
American Championship and with the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West Championship. Not
only would traffic be a factor with the biggest field of the season, so would the weather.
Record-setting temperatures soared to more than 100 degrees every day.
During practice on Friday, Freiberg – who was still slightly under the weather after the last race
at Road America – noted the importance of setting an early qualifying time in her Shift Up Now
liveried Porsche Cup car, after tires began to suffer from the extreme heat. The top of the
timesheets were tight, and the MDK Motorsports team focused on finding a qualifying setup,
along with one that would allow the Yokohama tires to perform for the race distance.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning and Freiberg made a statement on her very first
flying lap. She immediately went to the provisional pole in the North American Championship
class, and outside of the front row overall. At the end of the session, a USA West
Championship competitor edged out her time by just two-tenths of a second to take the
On Saturday afternoon, under an ambient temperature of 110 degrees, the green flag fell for
the first, 35-minute race on the 2.3-mile, 19-turn racetrack. The field of 991 and Cayman race
cars left the start/finish line heading toward turn one, a turn that’s notorious for the funnel
effect with a wide entry and narrower apex.
Freiberg’s MDK Motorsports entry suffered a significant bump to the rear. As she exited the
turn – still in second place – she had to work to control the counter-steering and loss of
momentum needed to correct the slide. She was still leading in the North American
Championship race, but the overall leader pulled the gap.
Undeterred, Freiberg settled in, showed patience and continued to exert pressure. At one
point, she was running side-by-side with the leader. Between the exit of turn one and the run
down to turn two, she came close to making an over-under move before tucking back in. A fullcourse caution for a Cayman accident then interrupted the race, and brought the entire field
back together for a single-file restart.
With 20 minutes to go, Freiberg was in the leaders’ mirrors. A pop to the inside of turn one
forced an error from the P1 car, who ran a little wide and opened the door. Freiberg didn’t
hesitate and never looked back, extending her lead to eight seconds by the checkered flag.
On Sunday, an earlier start time meant cooler temperatures for the second, 35-minute race of
the weekend. Freiberg was starting third overall and second in class, based on her lap time
from race one. She held position through a dramatic start and kept pressure on the leader
through the first five minutes until a full-course caution fell.
Green-flag racing resumed with approximately 20 minutes remaining. Trapped behind the class
leader but with a clear pace advantage, Freiberg watched the overall leader begin to drive
away from the rest of the field. Three laps later, she made a bold move in turn eight, passing
on the outside in one of the tightest and most challenging turns on the racetrack, to gain the
inside at turn nine.
Freiberg quickly put distance between herself and the second-place car, then set her sights on
the overall leader. As the field approached the final five laps, she had trimmed the gap from
three seconds to just under one. When the leader’s car ran wide in turn 12, she made up the
With just two laps to go, she made a definitive move to the inside of turn one, but wasn’t able
to gain the advantage or get alongside again that lap. As the white flag waved, she tried again
but to no avail. With no time to spare, she gained the advantage one final time leaving turn 11
and was able to stay in the draft down the lengthy back straight into turn 12. Neither driver
backed out. The two cars stayed side-by-side through the next four turns, exchanging the
advantage and swapping inside and outside lines.
As they rounded the carousel, Freiberg’s strategy paid off when she had the inside advantage.
Her competitor was forced to drive offline, allowing her to to surge into the lead. She then took
the final two corners and crossed the finish line, sweeping the overall win in both races.
“What a weekend,” Freiberg exclaimed. “Leaving this weekend with two wins means so much
more than the trophies. Personally, I’ve been fighting a sickness and the heat was so extreme,
and my crew was also fighting a sickness in this heat that was really putting us to the test.
“After Road America, we put our heads down and put in the work, cutting out all distractions,
working together as a team, and it all came together right at the end. I really can’t say enough
about the tenacity, hard-working nature, and support of the entire MDK Motorsports crew, the
support from my sponsors, Yokohama Tire, Shift Up Now, Bell Helmets, Trak Racer, my friends,
family, and my husband. Looking forward to the last round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge
season at Indy in October!”
Freiberg will look to clinch a championship at the season finale of the Porsche Sprint Challenge
North America, taking place at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 6-8, 2023.