- The 2014 season didn't exactly start out on a high note for 18-year-old Peter Portante with incidents during both Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races at the St. Petersburg season opener. But after hard driving and good thinking, his confidence was restored this past weekend in the #24 Arms Up Motorsports Intercity Lines, Inc./Spargo Construction entry at Barber Motorsports Park for Rounds Three and Four.
After qualifying 11th for Race One, the Plainville, Conn., native experienced some ups and downs. At the green flag Portante was able to get a jump on the group for position, however he would be forced to come into the pits for a nose change after slight contact with a competitor. Once he returned to the track, he battled his way up from 20th to claim a finishing spot of 13th.
"It was a little bit bittersweet," Portante explained after the race. "We got our nose knocked off in the first lap by people trying to make things happen that were never going to happen. Unfortunate qualifying so it all kind of led into it. But we got the nose back on - great job by the crew to get that done so quickly - then we set a really good lap so we'll be starting fifth. It's better but it's not great. Hopefully we'll make a lot happen in Race Two."
The second race was indeed much better. He started fifth and was able to hold strong in that position. Towards the end though, things heated up and some pretty fierce battles broke out.
"We finished sixth, which was OK. It's a lot better than what we've done so far this season, because we've had some pretty terrible luck," he said. "Really proud of my performance and the team's work. Our tire situation after qualifying left us in not the best area of performance for Race Two. We did the most we could and we're looking strong for the Indianapolis Grand Prix."
Up next for Portante and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda are Rounds Five and Six at the Indianapolis Grand Prix on May 9-10.