Afterburner Autosport Showcases Resilience in USF2000 Championship Doubleheader
 March 28, 2012| 
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Choi secured his inaugural top-10 and Megenbier fought for podium position on streets of St. Petersburg


MINNEAPOLIS, MIN. – Afterburner Autosport's 'never give up' approach to racing was on full display this past weekend (March 24-25) during the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The Minnesota-based squad helped series front-runner Timmy Megenbier overcame some unfortunate incidents to score valuable points, and guided Korean rookie Heamin Choi to his inaugural top-10 finish in the highly competitive Mazda Road to Indy series.

Just one week after enjoying a strong USF2000 Championship debut in Sebring - earning two top-10 finishes - Afterburner Autosport was back in action in St. Petersburg, as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening event. With Megenbier having finished in the top-10 (sixth in St. Petersburg and seventh in Baltimore last year) in his previous two street circuit events, the goal from the get go was to add more points to the early 2012 tally.

Afterburner Autosport immediately looked poised to do just that in the opening Thursday practice session, with Megenbier quickly up to speed. The second-year racer from Chicago was among those challenging for top honors throughout the session, and while he ultimately ended the session impacting a concrete retaining wall with his No. 17 Caputo Cheese/Rahal Foods/Power Stop/Afterburner Autosport entry, he had turned with third best time prior to the incident. 

The talented Afterburner crew quickly sprung into action after the session, not only beginning repairs on Megenbier's car, but also working with Choi to help the Korean sports car champion come to grips with the low grip street circuit. The squad's hard work promptly paid off one day later in qualifying. Megenbier once again was a driver worth watching in the timed run, eventually securing a row three starting position with the fifth quickest lap. Choi likewise impressed, further lowering his best time around the 1.8-mile track by over two seconds, despite battling traffic for the majority of the session.

When race time arrived on Saturday morning for Round Three, the mood under the Afterburner Autosport awning was superb. Things got off to a great start, with Megenbier quickly taking over fourth place, and Choi advancing up the charts in the No. 21 F1Pilot.com/Afterburner Autosport car. Having impressed onlookers with their racecraft as the race progressed, the Afterburner duo were poised to further make their mark via a late race re-start. For Megenbier this proved to be the decisive moment of the race, as while battling for third place he brushed the concrete wall just enough to break a rear upright bolt, ending his race prematurely in 32nd. Choi, however, made the most of late race opportunities, charging all the way up to a hard-fought and well-deserved debut top-10 at the stripe.

With the race one fast laps setting the grid for race two, Round Four commenced on Sunday morning with Megenbier taking the green flag in ninth, and Choi crossing the line for the first time in 17th. The opening lap proved to be a mixed affair for the two racers, as Megenbier was contacted by another driver - losing his front-wing - while Choi displayed good skill to work his way forward multiple positions. With a significant reduction in downforce due to the damage to his car, Megenbier struggled to match the pace of the lead pack, steadily falling down the order as the laps ticked off. Choi at the same time was going in the opposite direction, advancing up the scoring charts. At the end of the 19-lap affair, the duo were running in close formation, with Megenbier just edging his teammate to the checkered flag in 11 and 12th respectively.

"It was awesome to once again be part of the St. Petersburg weekend," stated Megenbier. "We were quick right from the start, but I was forced to avoid a spinning car which sent me into the wall in practice. The team and I worked on the car all night and got it ready for qualifying, where we showed we still had speed by posting a top-five time. Race one was going great until I just touched the wall while trying to pass for third, braking a rear upright bolt. Race two was tricky, as I got hit on the opening lap, losing my front wing. With no front downforce, the car was very hard to turn, so I just tried to finish as best as I could. The Afterburner Autosport team did an awesome job again this weekend, and we showed we have speed, despite being a new team. I can't wait for more races to come and to begin testing our new cars!"

"Since I didn't know the track and the car is still new to me, it was hard finding the right setup," commented Choi. "The races went okay though, as I tried not to crash and get as much seat time as possible. Outside of the races, the Mazda Road to Indy seminars were really good. American racing has many experts giving us drivers help, so I have a lot to learn. Thanks to Afterburner Autosport and the Mazda Road to Indy program."

Afterburner Autosport's pursuit of Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda top honors resumes on May 26, when Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis hosts Round Five as part of the 'Night Before the 500' festivities. Prior the lone oval on the series calendar, the Minnesota-based squad will take part in official testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 2-3, and Lucas Oil Raceway on May 5. 

Afterburner Autosport races with associate sponsorship from www.AuroraBearing.com.

Additional information on Afterburner Autosport is available from the team’s website: www.afterburnerautosport.com. 


For direct contact, please email afterburnerautosport@gmail.com or call 630-251-1709.

For additional Information on Timmy Megenbier visit www.timmymegenbier.com For direct contact info please contact Patrick Burke at patrick@pmbmotorsports.com or 815-693-2564.

Learn more about Heamin Choi at www.f1pilot.com. 

Keep up to date via Twitter @ ABautosport1 @ H3amin @ TimmyMeg17 and Facebook pages @ Afterburner-Autosport @ Heamin.Choi @ Timmy.Megenbier.

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About Afterburner Autosport:
Afterburner Autosport was formed in 2010 with the sole purpose of leading the way in the USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda competition. Under the guidance of two-time SCCA Formula Continental National Champion Brian Tomasi and fellow F2000 racer and engineer Tim Walsh, the team has over 20 years of experience in open-wheel competition. The Minnesota, Min.-based squad, having captured two podium finishes in its inaugural pro racing season last year, will make its USF2000 Championship debut in 2012, fielding multiple cars in the top Championship class.


 


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