ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Twenty-one drivers participated in an exclusive Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda test session this week at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America circuit. The two-day outing, which wrapped up yesterday, offered competitors 15 hours of track time in preparation for the series’ first triple-header event at the permanent road course on August 17/18 in support of the American Le Mans Series.
While times were unofficial, the trio of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing drivers were understood to have topped the standings with Matthew Brabham (#83 DTE Group) besting last year’s pole time set by teammate Spencer Pigot to break into the 2:09.9 range. He was closely followed by points leader Pigot (#2 Team Pelfrey, Doug Mockett & Company, E-merging Technologies, Parathyroid.com) and Trent Hindman (#3 Premier Woodcraft, Zydro+, DFL Construction, RaceLite Protection).
“I had heard a lot of stories about Road America from my family, and dad always talked about how great the track was and how he really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to going there myself,” said Brabham. “I had never seen it before in my life so it was a really, really cool two days. Everything went well and I really enjoyed the track. I think it’s going to provide some great racing because the straights are so long and drafting will play a huge part. The test was really good preparation for the race and I can’t wait to get back there.”
Several drivers also logged their best times in the ideal morning track conditions yesterday. Those pacing unofficially in the mid to upper 2:10 range included JDC MotorSports teammates Michael Johnson (#54 SpeediCath, Coloplast, Universal Coating, Alpinestars, FlatOutNation.com, Red Line Oil, Movement Arts Motorsports Marketing) and Neil Alberico (#19 Kartel Motorsports, Bondurant School, RaceLite Protection, Red Line Oil) along with Belardi Auto Racing’s Scott Anderson (#14 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, Neuropathy Testing Center, Laser Nail Centers), who was unofficially quickest on Day One.
“The test went really well,” said Johnson, the first paralyzed driver to compete on the Mazda Road to Indy. “I understand the car a lot more, especially in the high-speed turns, which I think is really going to help me when we go to Mid-Ohio for the next two races. I’m feeling a lot more confident. This season been a little rocky so far, but from the very first race in the [Cooper Tires] Winterfest to now, there’s no comparison. I feel 100 percent better.”
“This was one of our most productive tests of the year,” added Anderson. “It started out really well and we were pretty quick right from the start. We were able to do some more fine-tuning on the second day and I was really happy with the car, so I’m looking forward to going back there for the race weekend.”
Andretti Autosport’s duo of Shelby Blackstock (#8 Starstruck) and Thomas McGregor (#7 Dairy Queen/Exclusive Management) also displayed a strong pace, setting their best times in the mid 2:10s under less ideal conditions at the end of the day on Tuesday.
“A lot of drivers put on new tires the second day and the times were extremely close,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “With seven road course races remaining on the schedule, we wanted to offer our teams and drivers as much opportunity to test as possible at upcoming circuits. We are going to see some great competition here in August!”
Prior to the Road America races, USF2000 will visit the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for two rounds of competition in support of both the IZOD IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series on August 4/5. USF2000 will rejoin both championships on September 1/2 for the popular street circuit event in Baltimore, Md., followed by the season finale on September 13/14 at Virginia International Raceway, again with the American Le Mans Series.
Coverage of the most recent USF2000 race – the “Night Before the 500” – will air this Saturday during the Mazda Motorsports Hour on Velocity at 12:00 pm ET.