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Freiberg breaking barriers

Ashley Freiberg stays busy every day searching for sponsorship dollars in order to retain her seat for the full season in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 that she will co-drive with Shelby Blackstock in the IMSA Continental Tires SportsCar Championship support race Friday during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida race week.

"A lot of people are helping me find money," says the enthusiastic and talented 22-year-old, "but I have to do everything I can to help myself."

Freiberg is maxing out her efforts by being successful on the race track. She and Blackstock finished second at the season-opener at Daytona but were elevated to victory when the race-winning No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M3 driven by Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla was disqualified for a technical infraction.

BMWs swept the top four places at Daytona in GS. Fall-Line finished 1-2, with Trent Hindman and John Edwards second in the No. 46 BMW M3.

With the win, Freiberg became the first woman to win overall in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge history as well as the first woman to claim an overall race victory at Daytona International Speedway. It also was the first Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victory for her teammate Blackstock, the son of American country music singer Reba McEntire.

Freiberg, from Bondville, VT, has already broken new ground for women in motorsport. Freiberg's firsts are many, accumulating since she won her first World Karting Association National Title in 2006. Three years later, she was the first woman to win a BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and the following year she was the first woman to win an overall Skip Barber Championship and MX-5 Cup race, and last year became the first female overall North American GT3 Cup Challenge Winner. Her short-range goal is to move up to the Tudor United SportsCar Championship series and compete in events like the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida.

Her current situation fits her plans perfectly. Fall-Line Motorsports has been a regular in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge since 2006, winning three races (including Watkins Glen and Indianapolis in 2013).

"Having Shelby as a teammate is a good pairing," Freiberg says. "He reminds me to have some fun once in a while. I'm very nerdy about it at times - I spend hours looking at data and video of my races."

"I can't describe the feeling - the start of the season could not have gone any better for Fall-Line Motorsports and BMW," Freiberg says. "I've got to thank Fall-Line for putting me in one of their cars. Shelby helped me a ton, and he really drove the wheels off the car."

She had left the track and was back at the hotel when she got the call telling her they had won at Daytona.

"My first reaction was shock because we won," she says. "I definitely wish we could have celebrated (the victory) on the podium, but a win is a win. "But I was already focusing on next one - Sebring - and that's still my focus."

Her race will start at 1 p.m. Friday and last for 2.5 hours.

"Our goal is to stay out of trouble and if we can get close to the top five I'll be happy," Freiberg says. "Our goal is the stay in the points lead, and a win would be a big fat cherry on top."

Actually, finding a sponsor to fund the rest of what could be a championship season would be the big fat cherry on top.