Double race weekend weather adds to challenges for Nathan Blok and JCR No.33
BEACHBURG ONT., CANADA – Nathan Blok considers the Toronto Indy his home race even though the 20-year old hails from a small town on the Ottawa River, there is certainly a special pride in doing well at a prestigious event before your sponsors and Blok did them proud with a top-10 finish on Sunday.
This was Blok’s first opportunity to race in Toronto and his second weekend driving in the very competitive Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda where the top 18 drivers in the 23-car field were separated by less than two seconds. Blok did manage to get one day of testing with his John Cummiskey Racing team at Toronto Motorsport Park in Cayuga, Ont., prior to the Toronto Indy event. The weekend would consist of Rounds 8 and 9 of the 2014 USF2000 season.
Friday’s schedule brought two practice sessions and the qualifying heat. For the first practice, Blok familiarized himself to the challenging 1.755-mile, 11-turn street circuit that is lined with unforgiving concrete walls. In the second practice, Blok increased his speed and was timed at just 1.3 seconds off the pace of the leader, placing him at 14th overall. The qualifying session took place late in the day and Blok was in the top 10 until the last 4-5 laps when the car developed an electrical problem. Although Blok improved his time by 0.7 of a second from practice, he ended up qualifying 15th on the grid for Saturday’s scheduled race.
Mother Nature became involved on Saturday bringing torrential rain to the city and forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s schedule for the Indy cars and the USF2000 series. Now Blok faced the ordeal of racing in two final heats in one day on a track washed clean of all rubber laid down on Friday.
The rain continued overnight into Sunday so that although it was not actively raining for the start of the USF2000 Round 8 final, the track was very wet and slowly dried during the race. Blok started on the eighth row in 15th position and almost immediately two cars, No. 44 and 21, collided in front of Blok as he entered Corner 1. Blok was unscathed and able to get around these two but in the process he was passed by four cars putting him back two positions. Prior to the full-course yellow flag due to the incident, Blok was able to take back one of the positions, putting him in 16th.
After the three laps under yellow, preventing any passing, Blok persevered and steadily moved up the field finally finishing in 12th place.
“The start didn't go as I had hoped, and the cars blocking the track from the accident didn't help my situation, since I lost some spots," said Blok. “After the restart I felt I had the pace to catch the group ahead but it was difficult getting passed #13 (Juan Maldonado). Once I got past him, I didn't have enough time to catch the group ahead.”
Sunday dawn bright and dry and the USF2000 took to the track for the Round 9 final just after noon. Qualifying positions were based on the second fastest time from qualifying, putting Nathan Blok 16th on the grid. At the drop of the green flag, Blok moved to the outside and passed three cars by Corner 1 moving him to 13th position.
There was contact in Corner 1 between No. 96 and 24, taking them out of the race and moving Blok into 11th place. Before the full-course caution came out, Blok passed another car at the end of the straight to bring him to 10th place.
For the next 10 laps it was a steady battle for Blok as he would gain a position, then lose a position. Not giving up at the mid-point of the race, Blok took advantage of a three-car incident on Lap 16 and jumped up the leaderboard to seventh place. After two more laps under caution, Blok made several passing attempts but was unable to make them stick during the final two laps. The checkered flag dropped with Blok in seventh place, his first top-10 finish in USF2000 and the best result ever for the John Cummiskey Racing team.
“I reviewed the Race #1 video and data, and went out on the track for Race #2 on a mission,” laughed Blok. “I made a huge advancement on Corner 1 and by the end of Lap 1 I had moved up six positions. My car developed understeer about halfway through the race, and I made a sway bar change, but it was too little, too late. A few more laps and a top-five finish would have been in the cards.”
“I would like to thank all my sponsors for giving me the opportunity to participate this weekend. And I would like to thank the team for overcoming some technical issues this weekend and providing me with an awesome car. I'm proud to be part of John Cummiskey Racing's first top-10 finish and am looking forward to a full season next year.”
About the John Cummiskey Racing
Cummiskey leads an experienced crew and provides a professional race team environment to young drivers looking to expand their career. JCR is focused on providing top quality equipment and a winning atmosphere. In addition, JCR offers a full service preparation/restoration shop for any type of race car. JCR services include full chassis, suspension, engine, and transmission preparation/restoration. JCR can prepare your car for any event, fully restore your car to its original condition with all the up to date safety equipment. For more information about John Cummiskey Racing, visit www.johncummiskeyracing.com.
Nathan Blok Quick Facts: Nathan Blok is a 20-year-old racer from Beachburg, Ontario, and he is the two-time Formula Tour Series Champion. Blok has been racing for 14 years beginning in karting and earned his first victory in cars in 2010 with a 1st place finish in the Ontario Formula Ford Challenge race at Calabogie, Ontario. He holds the F1600 track record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and he is the youngest driver to win at the Trois-Rivieres GP. Away from the track, Blok holds a 1st Degree Black Belt in Karate, and is currently attending the Mechanical Engineering Technology course at Algonquin College (Ottawa, Ontario). For more information on Nathan Blok, visit www.nathanblok.com
Sponsors of Nathan Blok Racing: Nathan Blok would like to thank his sponsors for their continuing support – Aurora Tools (www.aurora-tools.com), Tenaquip (www.tenaquip.com), Zenith Safety Products, ENEOS (http://www.eneos.us), Boston Pizza (www.bostonpizza.com), Mr. Lube (www.mrlube.com ), Salin Bank (www.salin.com), Donley Pool Service, Lad's Auto Recyclers, Sun Sign Graphics (www.sunsigngraphics.com, Woody’s MVR (www.woodysmvr.com), Beach-West Pharmacy, McMillan Transmission, H and H Constructions (www.handhconstruction.ca), A-city Taxi, Sandra's Embroidery, TD Products (www.td-products.com).