Palmetto, Fla. – Drivers representing eight different nations will converge on Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto, Ont., Canada this weekend for the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Toronto, Rounds 8 and 9 of the ultra-competitive Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. All of them will be vying for victory on one of the most challenging street circuits in North America, plus an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the two most recent champions, Matthew Brabham and Canadian Scott Hargrove, by winning a MAZDASPEED
Scholarship to advance onto the next step of the Mazda Road to Indy, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2015.
Teenaged Floridian RC Enerson currently leads the points chase in the Peninsula Pipeline/Patriot Bank/Tampa Bay Rays/Bell Helmets/Sparco Van Diemen-Mazda fielded by the family-run Team E Racing. Enerson won three of the first four races of the season but has failed to notch a podium finish from the three most recent events. Consequently his once commanding lead has dwindled to just nine points over Florian Latorre.
The Frenchman has yet to win a race this season but has been close on several occasions, claiming three poles and two podium finishes since joining Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing which has won three consecutive championships. Latorre heads to Toronto with a lot of confidence after finishing on the podium in both USF2000 rounds last year.
Teammate Jake Eidson has been knocking on the door of victory lane equally hard. The 19-year-old Colorado native also has three podium finishes to his name, and displayed his tenacity with a gritty drive in the most recent race at Lucas Oil Raceway where he made up for a disappointing qualifying performance by rising from 17th on the grid to ninth.
Aside from Enerson, four drivers and teams have shared the victory spoils during the first half of the 14-race season. All are rookies. Brazilian Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport), Aaron Telitz (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Adrian Starrantino (JAY Motorsports) currently hold fourth through sixth in the championship standings, while Will Owen (Pabst Racing), who won a thrilling wet-dry race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in May, stands ninth in the closely matched points race.
Other drivers to watch during this weekend’s races will include a pair of young Canadians. Daniel Burkett, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, has four top-five finishes to his name for Belardi Auto Racing, while former F1600 star Nathan Blok, from Beachburg, Ont., is returning after making his USF2000 debut at Indianapolis with a new team run by former IndyCar chief mechanic/team manager John Cummiskey.
Vancouver’s James Dayson will be making his first appearance of 2014. Dayson, who finished third in the USF2000 National Class last year, missed the first half of the season with an injury.
Two drivers with strong ties to the Verizon IndyCar Series are Austin Cindric (Pabst Racing), 15, whose father, Tim Cindric, is the president of Penske Racing, and Colton Herta, the 14-year-old son of current team owner and former Indy Lights Champion Bryan Herta. Both are expected to be among the front-runners.
The 23-car USF2000 field will take to the challenging 1.755-mile, 11-turn track for a pair of half-hour practice sessions on Friday, July 18, at 8:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., followed by qualifying at 5:50 p.m. Race One is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, immediately after the first Verizon IndyCar Series race, with the green flag for Race 2 set for 9:05 a.m. on Sunday, July 20. Live commentary, plus timing and scoring, will be available on the series website, www.usf2000.com.