Afterburner Autosport Shows Pace in Lone USF2000 Championship Oval Event
 May 29, 2013| 
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USF2000-news
Talented trio of Gooden, Newey and Slaghekke earned valuable experience and points in Round Five as part of famed Night Before the 500 event

MINNEAPOLIS, MIN. – The lone oval race on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda calendar at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday (May 25) was a valuable point scoring affair for Afterburner Autosport. Having showed good speed throughout the event, the Minnesota-based squad ultimately exited Round Five with plenty of experience via Wyatt Gooden in 12th, Jeroen Slaghekke in 14th, and Brandon Newey in 16th. Afterburner Autosport now changes its focus back to street circuit racing, currently sitting second in the title fight.


With a couple trips to the podium already on its 2013 USF2000 Championship resume, Afterburner Autosport was looking to continue its run of form when the Mazda Road to Indy series traveled to Lucas Oil Raceway for its lone oval race as part of the famed Night Before the 500 event.

The action got underway with three test runs on Friday around the 0.686-mile oval, and as planned the Afterburner Autosport racers focused on car setup/balance, which is vital on a oval. Things were going in the right direction, with Slaghekke twice cracking the top-10 in the No. 18 Carriere/W-H Sports Group Afterburner Autosport entry, and Gooden just missing a top-five time. It was, however, not all good news, as the second session witnessed Newey striking the concrete retaining wall after another competitor spun right in front of the American.

Thanks to some strong work by the Afterburner Autosport crew, all three cars were ready to fight for top honors when race day commenced one day later with two practice sessions. Continuing to fine tune their racing steeds for the late afternoon single-car qualifying session and evening race under the lights, Slaghekke again led the charge, posting the third quickest lap in the first practice run.

Given the progress the three rookies had made thus far, spirits were high under the Afterburner Autosport awning when single-car qualifying got underway to set the grid for Round Five. With each racer getting two flying laps to post the best combined time, the session proved to be an exciting affair. Slaghekke ultimately was the top Afterburner racer, just missing out on the pole and a front-row starting position via the third quickest two-lap time. Gooden positioned himself for another strong race result by going sixth fastest in the No. 17 PerfectPedal.com Afterburner Autosport racer, while Newey, forced to play catch-up after his unavoidable incident in testing, earned a row seven starting position in the large 24-car field.

Immediately following qualifying, it was time to go over setups and plans for the 70-lap race under the lights. In addition to the challenge of different track conditions via night racing, the Afterburner Autosport crew had to take into consideration the rapidly evolving weather, which now featured increasing overcast skies and threat of rain.

When the race commenced a few hours after qualifying in front of an enthusiastic crowd, it quickly became apparent the Afterburner Autosport cars did not have the speed previously shown, much like several other front-runners. That being said, the three skilled Afterburner rookies did not give up. Continually fighting for positions in the all green race, they earned valuable experience en route to securing solid points. When the checkered flag waved, Gooden was 12th, Slaghekke was 14th, and Newey was 16th.

"It was a difficult night for us, so to come away from it without any incidents between the three of us, while maintaining second in the driver and team standings, we really couldn't ask for much more given the circumstances," stated Gooden. "The team will regroup and continue to progress. I have no doubts about that."

"The Afterburner Autosport team have been working very hard on improving the car after collective testing at Lucas Oil Raceway," commented Slaghekke. "We lacked quite some pace there, and the team did a great job on closing the gap right before qualifying, where we narrowly missed out on the pole position and qualified third. The race was very difficult, having spent most of our testing finding a good set up for qualifying. I was skidding all over the track, and nothing I tried seemed to work. This resulted in me being a sitting duck, and I eventually finished a disappointing 14th. All in all I am still proud of the team for our qualifying result. We came a long way from the first test we did at Lucas Oil Raceway, and I am confident we will be very strong on the remaining street and road courses."

"My first-ever oval race was extremely eventful!" added Newey, who pilots the No. 98 Curb Records/Calcium Pro/USANA/Miller Oils/OMP/Bell Helmets/Afterburner Autosport entry. "We did not have the race we wanted, but I couldn't be more proud of the Afterburner team. I was collected in a crash in testing, and they worked extremely hard for me to be able to even race and qualify. We were missing just a little bit of pace in the race, and it showed. We are now looking forward to Toronto, and are looking to bounce back in a strong way."


The Afterburner Autosport squad now has break until July 13-14, when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title chase continues in Canada on the streets of Toronto, Ont. The Minnesota-based team enters the twin bill sitting second in the team standings, while Gooden is second in the driver standings, ahead of Newey in 10th and Slaghekke in 13th.

Additional information on Afterburner Autosport is available from the team’s website @ www.AfterburnerAutosport.com. For direct contact, email afterburnerautosport@gmail.com or call 630-251-1709.


Keep up to date via Twitter @ ABautosport1 and Facebook page @ Afterburner Autosport.


Learn more about Brandon Newey at BrandonNewey.com and keep up to date via Twitter @ BNEWEY and Facebook @ Brandon Newey.


Learn more about Wyatt Gooden at WyattGooden.com and keep up to date via Twitter @ WyattGooden and Facebook @ Wyatt Gooden Racing.


Learn more about Jeroen Slaghekke at JeroenSlaghekke.com and keep up to date via Twitter @ JeroenSlaghekke and Facebook Jeroen Slaghekke Racing.


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About Afterburner Autosport:
Afterburner Autosport was formed in 2010 with the sole purpose of leading the way in the Cooper Tires 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 in 2011, made its USF2000 Championship debut in 2012, fielding multiple cars in the top Championship class. The squad returns to the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program with an expanded multi-car effort in 2013.

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