Afterburner Autosport Makes Strong USF2000 Return
 August 9, 2015| 
  • Team News

Sennan Fielding and Jack Mitchell produce impressive top-10 results at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, OH – Afterburner Autosport Team Principal Tim Walsh could not have asked for much more from his two rookie drivers when he and the squad returned to action in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  After taking two months off to regroup, they arrived at the challenging 2.25-mile racing circuit with a pair of young drivers who were making their series debuts - American F1600 pilot Jack Mitchell Jr. and rising British star Sennan Fielding.  Mid-Ohio is a tough place to make an entrance thanks to its unique characteristics and limited passing opportunities, but even with the known challenges, Mitchell and Fielding excelled, posting a combined four top-10 finishes during the weekend’s tripleheader, and driving their cars back to the paddock after each session.

“Our goal was to give Sennan and Jack the best possible learning experience we could, and to work with them throughout the weekend to improve their race cars as they came to grips with the track and the nuances of the USF2000-spec car,” Walsh commented. “When I look back, I couldn’t be happier with how they performed.  They picked up the pace all weekend and made wise on-track decisions, raced hard, and brought the cars home in one piece after every session.  These are two great young drivers who have a big future in the Mazda Road to Indy.”

The drivers received three test sessions on Thursday, July 30, and for Fielding, the focus was on learning a new circuit in a brand new car. Mid-Ohio is a tough layout to get a handle on, but the MSA Formula series frontrunner attacked the track and quickly improved his lap times, closing on the pace of the frontrunners with each successive session.  

Mitchell has raced at Mid-Ohio before in an F1600 car, so he targeted coming up to speed with the introduction of aero downforce, which he had yet to encounter in his wingless F1600.  Trusting in the grip provided by the wing package on the USF2000 cars is a challenge that all rookies face, and Jack used the test day perfectly as he gained confidence and speed.

During Friday qualifying, Mitchell led the way and turned a lap that placed him ninth to sit on the inside of row five for the first race of the doubleheader.  Fielding would line up right behind his teammate in 11th position for the start of the 30-minute event that was held that afternoon.  The race was action-packed as Fielding successfully held Team Pelfrey’s Ayla Agren at bay to finish ninth, topping the reigning F1600 Championship Series title winner, who has considerable experience at Mid-Ohio.  Mitchell was not far behind, taking 12th in his first USF2000 main event.

The drivers would run two races on Saturday to cap the weekend early, and staying out of trouble was key to maintaining their successful weekend.  Sennan and Jack finished in the same positions as Race 1 (9th and 12th), as they ran together in a tight five-car pack challenging for the final positions in the top-10.  Fielding swapped the eighth position with Pabst Racing’s Yufeng Luo for a time and also needed to hold off the advances of another Team Pelfrey pilot – Nikita Lastochkin – which he would do successfully in recording his second consecutive ninth place finish.  Mitchell stepped up his game and was in the fight with the series regulars, all of which have 10-plus starts already in the books for 2015. 

The grid for the third race of the tripleheader was set by each driver’s fast lap from Race 2, which moved Fielding to tenth for the start. Sennan put in a masterful opening lap to advance to eighth and he would eventually cross the line in seventh, earning his best finish of the weekend.  Mitchell also continued his improvement, finishing ninth as his fast lap was just two hundredths of a second quicker than his teammates, as they both posted times of 1:23.5.  The pairing completed an impressive weekend with three clean races and six finishes inside the top-12.

Afterburner Autosports will now look to the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 11-13.  Fielding has already confirmed his participation in the event and Mitchell is working to continue his USF2000 development as well.  Afterburner has two additional cars ready to race and is available to talk to drivers about off-season testing and 2016 racing campaigns.


Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
Rounds 12/13/14 – July 29-31, 2015
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Lexington, Ohio

Sennan Fielding - #17
Chesterfield, England
Qualified: 11th – 1:22.559 (+1.673 secs)
Race #1: 9th 
Race #2: 9th 
Race #3: 7th 

Driver Quote: “Mid-Ohio was a very strong weekend for me and the Afterburner team. We were at a slight disadvantage from the very beginning, and we knew it was going to be difficult. However, we all got our head together and made great progress throughout the weekend, scoring three strong top-10 results, which I was very pleased with considering that it was my first time in the car and at the circuit.”

Jack Mitchell Jr. - #18
Chicago, Illinois
Qualified: 9th – 1:22:441 (+1.555 secs)
Race #1: 12th 
Race #2: 12th
Race #3: 9th 

Driver Quote: “My debut weekend in USF2000 was a learning experience from start to finish. Although the goal was to get the best results possible for Afterburner Autosport and my supporters, I held huge focus on personal improvement throughout the weekend. I enjoyed working with this Mazda engine and Cooper tire package, and I think we will be a strong force after some more track time. We were able to finish all three races and it is a victory to be competing with drivers who have been in the series all year on the first race weekend. I look forward to getting back in the car soon and continuing progress towards the front!”

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