Dickerson Ready to Roll Into Indianapolis For Oval Debut
 May 26, 2016| 
  • Team News

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As a young karter, Californian Dakota Dickerson dreamed of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he achieved that goal earlier in May when he drove his Afterburner Autosport entry to best finish of 11th in the Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 2.439-mile 14-turn road course. Dickerson continues his rapid run up the steep Mazda Road to Indy learning curve, and he made impressive gains once again in closing the gap on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda veterans. After finishing just outside the top-10 in the first of two races at Indianapolis, a blocked track and subsequent unavoidable contact ended what would have surely been an even better result for the impressive Californian.  This coming week, Dakota will run the first oval race of his career at the Carb Night Classic on Friday evening at Lucas Oil Raceway. 

“We’re thrilled with how quickly Dakota is improving, and he took another major step forward on the Indianapolis road course as he found speed and improved balance during every session.” offered Tim Walsh, Afterburner Autosport team principal.  “We had a very successful oval test at Lacrosse Speedway (WI) on Monday and we’re focused on making sure that he has a great car for his first oval race this Friday.”   

In Indianapolis for the Grand Prix road course weekend, Dakota challenged his fellow series rookies and the established veterans all weekend, closing the gap on the more experienced drivers through the Wednesday and Thursday test and practice sessions. In the opening race of the doubleheader on Friday afternoon, Dickerson got a strong start and was able to avoid the chaos to finish 11th.  In the second race, he started further up the field and was on the move through the first half of the opening lap when another competitor looped his car rolling through the left-hand Turn 7, leaving Dakota with no where to go.  The 19-year-old San Diego, CA college student could not avoid contact and spun, but was able to continue and salvaged a 20th place finish, despite having broken his finger in the incident.  Cleared to race for this weekend’s Freedom 75 thanks to a removable cast, Dickerson sits 13th in points and primed for a big move towards the top of the standings. 

At Monday’s oval test at Lacrosse, Dickerson turned 100s of laps as he experienced his first speedway sessions The plan was calculated and deliberate, allowing Dakota to come up to speed with cautious progression. Once the comfort level was attained, he explored different lines and entry speeds, and turned very impressive times that were highlighted by the consistency that the team was looking for.  He was in the car all day and only unbelted from his soul red #18 Mazdaspeed entry so that the team could refuel. 

The team is now set-up at Lucas Oil Raceway and his ready to go for the Carb Night Classic on Friday evening.  Dakota will take to the 5/8th mile banked oval on Thursday at 9:00 am EDT for the first of five 30-minute practice sessions.  Qualifying for the Freedom 75 will schedule for 4:00 pm on Friday and the race will go green at 6:10 pm in the evening.  Live coverage is available on the Mazda Road to Indy app or on www.usf2000.com. 

DRIVER PERFORMANCE – ROUNDS 5/6

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY – INDIANAPOLIS, IN

GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 12-14, 2016 

DAKOTA DICKERSON - #18

Qualifying: 13th – 1:27.041

Race #1: 11th

Race #2: 20th

Driver Quote: “We are constantly learning as the season progresses, and I’m learning what it truly takes to compete up front in this highly competitive series. I feel like we are developing a stronger foundation and will soon be consistently in the top-10. Having never raced on an oval course before, I am extremely anxious to just try it. I've gotten lots of advice from IndyCar drivers, courtesy of the staff at the Mazda Road to Indy, and to be honest, I just want to get out there. I have a feeling as to what to expect, but I truly won't know until I'm actually going 120mph right next to a wall.” 

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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