Afterburner Autosports’ Dickerson Continues Strong Development
 April 29, 2016| 
  • Team News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The strength of the drivers returning to this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is certainly presenting a challenge to the freshmen class, but Afterburner Autosport’s Dakota Dickerson is reveling in the opportunity to learn and flourish. The 19-year-old Californian continues to develop his feel for his ‘Soul Red’ colored #18 Mazdaspeed USF2000 car and his level of comfort increased drastically from the opening round in St. Petersburg to this past weekend’s round at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.  Dickerson focused on improving the balance of the car all weekend, and after being driven off track on the opening lap of the first race, he turned in a strong recovery effort in Race 2 to improve to 13th position. 

“We’re incredibly pleased with how Dakota is developing his skill set and his feel for these unique race cars,” offered Tim Walsh, Afterburner Autosport Team Principal. “He continues to improve his pace, and if it weren’t for some over-aggressive driving by others, we believe he would have posted a part of top-10s at Barber. There’s no doubt that he will continue to find speed and we’re excited to get him to Indianapolis in May to get him back into the top-10.” 

At Barber, Dakota and the team struggled to find the right balance for the car during practice and this hurt his pace in qualifying, which left him in 17th for the start of the first race.  Dickerson got a strong launch on the green flag and put himself in the right places over the first corners of the opening lap, only to get run off the track at the exit of the Turn 5 hairpin, which dropped him deep in the field once again.  The San Diego resident worked to rebound, but the field had got away and he did not get the much-needed caution period to bunch the field back together.  In the final tally, he was classified in 17th position. In the second race, Dakota started in the 17th position and eventually raced his way into a spirited battle for a top-10 result.  The wheel-to-wheel racing provided him with important experience and he brought the car home in one piece with a 13th place finish. 

The team will now focus on heading to Indiana for the month of May, beginning with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 12-14 before giving Dickerson his first taste of oval racing during the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday, May 27. 

DRIVER PERFORMANCE – ROUNDS 3/4 

DAKOTA DICKERSON - #18

Qualifying: 16th – 1:26.203

Race #1: 17th

Race #2: 13th

Driver Quote: “Unfortunately, we did not have the weekend we were hoping for at Barber. We were constantly chasing the balance of the car, and made improvements all the way through the weekend to the final session. Our focus is now set on the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and I am more determined than ever to get up to the front. I am feeling more and more comfortable in the car, and it's just a matter of finding that last five percent on the balance, which I believe is really separating us from the top-five.” 

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 former F2000 racer and engineer Tim Walsh, the team has over 20 years of experience in open-wheel competition and can field up to four cars in competition. The squad, which is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has continually developed and grown since joining the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and has multiple series victories, winning at least one race every year for the last three years.

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