French Newcomer Alexandre Baron Arrives, Wins and Conquers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
 September 7, 2013| 
  • Series News
Monterey, Calif. – French teenager Alexandre Baron scored a stunning debut victory today in the Allied Building Products Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Round 11 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Baron, 18, from Narbonne, France, had tested only once before for the Afterburner Autosport team, but took to the USF2000 cars like a seasoned veteran, claiming the Minnesota-based squad’s first-ever pole position and then leading throughout an incident-packed 16-lap race to secure the team’s maiden victory.

Championship leader Scott Hargrove qualified second fastest ahead of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Neil Alberico. Baron got a good jump at his first-ever rolling start, but when he left the door open under braking for the Mario Andretti Hairpin at Turn Two, Hargrove glimpsed an opportunity to dive to the inside and fill the gap. 

Moments later, as Baron attempted to maintain his advantage, the two leaders made contact which dislodged the nosecone on Hargrove’s #38 Analytic Systems/Race/Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing Van Diemen-Mazda. Alberico, from Los Gatos, Calif., but racing for the very first time on his “home” circuit, managed to sneak past into second place on the exit of Turn One, by which time Baron already had made his escape.

The Frenchman led Alberico by over 2.5 seconds at the completion of Lap 1, with Wyatt Gooden, in a second Afterburner car, third ahead of Englishman Michael Epps (Belardi Auto Racing), who had made a startling getaway from eighth on the grid. Baron’s advantage was negated soon afterward due to separate incidents at Turn Three and Turn 11.

Baron again took off in the lead at the restart, this time with Alberico hot on his heels. The two leaders were never separated by more than a second, but Alberico wasn’t quite able to get close enough to make a challenge and had to settle for second place when the race finished under caution after 16 laps following another pair of incidents farther down the field.

Gooden, from Cleveland, Ohio, finished third – his first podium appearance since Round 4 at St. Petersburg in March – while Garett Grist, from Grimsby, Ont., Canada, fresh off his first victory in the most recent race at Mid-Ohio, passed Epps on Lap 9 to claim fourth for Andretti Autosport.

Another newcomer, Scott Andrews, from Torquay, Victoria, Australia, also posted an impressive performance in finishing sixth for JDC MotorSports. Andrews had posted the fastest time in practice this morning but qualified only 10th after losing his best lap time due to causing a red flag stoppage during qualifying when he spun at Turn Four. A strong start saw him rise to seventh on the opening lap, which became sixth when Hargrove made a pit stop to replace his damaged nosecone during the first caution period.

Hargrove resumed in 20th before fighting his way back to 11th at the checkered flag. Hargrove now holds a 31-point advantage over Alberico with three races remaining.

Ryan Verra of Alliance Autosport, from Calgary, Alb., Canada, claimed his first National Class victory following a race-long battle with fellow Canadian James Dayson (ArmsUp Motorsports).

Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award to Florian Latorre of JAY Motorsports who advanced from 16th to seventh, the Staubli Award to Baron, the PFC Award to the winning car owners of Afterburner Autosport and Alliance Autosport and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Verra.

Round 12 will commence at 8:10 am PT tomorrow. Live timing and scoring with commentary for all on-track sessions is available via the series website at

Alexandre “Alex” Baron, #18 13th Avenue (Afterburner Autosport) – First: “I want to say thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and thanks to my team for doing an incredible job. In the race I managed to keep Neil [Alberico] behind me from the start. He tried to close the gap on me but I was able to stay out front and not make any mistakes. My thoughts on tomorrow are to improve the car as nothing is ever perfect and hopefully get another win.”

Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School/ Trophy (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – Second: “I really have to thank the Cape Motorsports guys for giving me another great car. Alex [Baron] was fast and the guys starting at the front were really, really close on times and it is hard to pass on this track. Everyone did a great job and I think we managed to put a pretty fast lap in there and should be looking good for tomorrow. With three races left, anything can happen for sure and we’ll just keep working hard as a team.”

Wyatt Gooden, #17 (Afterburner Autosport with Curb/Agajanian) – Third: “Today was an awesome day. Garett [Grist] was putting pressure on me for awhile. My car really didn’t come in until halfway through the race or so and then it started to get a little bit better and I was feeling more confident. I made some adjustments and was able to keep Garett behind me which was awesome because he is in front of me in points in P3 so we still have a legitimate shot at the Rookie of the Year title. I am mostly happy for my team because we have struggled the last five or six races and to come through and get both guys on the podium, I am just unbelievably happy for my team. It gives us a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”

Ryan Verra, #25 Capto Scientia/Enemy Sport/Cancer Research Society (Alliance Autosport) – First National Class: “It was amazing. A great race and this feels awesome. I was able to hold the lead the entire time and it was a really good experience. I have to thank my team for all of their hard work.”


About Allied Building Products Corp.
Allied Building Products Corp. is a wholesale distributor of exterior and interior building materials with $1.7 billion in annual revenues. Allied services professional contractors in 33 states with residential and commercial roofing, waterproofing, siding, windows, drywall, acoustical, metal framing and solar products along with all related accessories. Allied is a division of Oldcastle, Inc., the North American holding company for CRH plc (NYSE: CRH). For more information about Allied Building Products, visit 
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