New York teenager avoided carnage to showcase talents in lone oval race of season at Lucas Oil Raceway
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Luca Forgeois' return to oval racing proved to be a successful affair on Saturday night (May 26), with the Belardi Auto Racing racer matching his season-best result in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The New York native showcased his talents behind the wheel in what was a chaotic race under the lights, finishing a strong sixth during the prestigious Night Before the 500 event at Lucas Oil Raceway.
For Forgeois, Round Five - the lone oval on the USF2000 calendar - was the opportunity to build on the strong run he enjoyed last time out in March in Florida. He promptly did that when the Mazda Road to Indy program cars first took to the 0.686-mile banked oval at Lucas Oil Raceway, posting times inside the top-seven throughout Friday testing and the two practice runs on Saturday.
The reigning USF2000 Championship National class champion - for F2000 cars using the Zetec engine package and Formula Enterprises cars - continued to show good speed come single-car qualifying. Indicating he had the pace to run near the front without the benefit of a draft, the 16 year-old posted the seventh quickest two-lap combined time, securing a row four starting position for the Night Before the 500 event, part of the festivities for the historic Indianapolis 500 one day later just down the road at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
When Forgeois and the rest of the USF2000 Championship rolled back on-course in front of a large crowd a short time later for 75-lap race under the lights, the goal was to at least score a second consecutive top-10 finish. When the green flag waved, the No. 9 Café Noir/Splashlight/Gearup Belardi Auto Racing entry was immediately involved in a multi-car fight for position. The real action, however, occurred at the start of lap two, as a competitor spun right in front of the talented teenager. Forgeois, displaying great reactions, fortunately avoided both the spinning car and the subsequent multi-car crash.
After numerous laps behind the safety car, the chase for the Night Before the 500 win resumed with Forgeois yet again involved in a spirited fight position. The teenager proceeded to dice for a place in the top-five, while at the same time dealing with repeated challenges from behind. Forgeois, showcasing his ever increasing racecraft, ultimately crossed the 49-lap shortened - due to time restraints - race in sixth place. Thus matched his best result of the season to date, and gave the New Yorker his second consecutive top-10 finish.
"Overall it was an interesting and very insightful weekend," commented Forgeois. "I learned a lot over the course of the two days. The car was definitely good, as we were among the lead pack the practices. So, we went into qualifying with a lot of confidence. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my second lap, and that cost us a top-five result. We made some changes to the car before the race, taking a bit of a gamble. The changes were good, and I was able to pass my way up to fifth by the first corner. Unfortunately, a car spun in front of me on lap two, and in order to avoid the crash I had to slow down, losing the position. My restart was quite bad, which put me back a couple of car lengths on the pack. I ended catching to the two cars in front of me, but then the gap remained the same.
"This track is extremely hard to pass on. I know the car and myself were capable of a third place finish, however, my restart cost us any chance of that. In the end, I learned something that will help me in future races."
Forgeois returns to action on August 4-5, when Rounds Six and Seven of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Championship class rookie enters the doubleheader having cracked the top-10 in all four sessions of the official series test at the Ohio road course in early May.
Follow Luca’s career on www.lucaforgeois.com
### About Luca Forgeois:
A resident of New York City, New York, the 16 year-old Luca Forgeois is an aspiring race car driver with the goal of becoming a professional competitor. Luca emerged from his development years in karting to win the 2011 National class title in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and for 2012, he is back in the series campaigning the headline ‘Championship Class’ category with Belardi Auto Racing.