Pacific F2000: Egner is Too Hot to Handle
 September 12, 2017| 
  • Feeder Series
MALIBU, Calif. – Mitch Egner made the long trip from West Kelowna, B.C., Canada to Monterey, Calif., well worthwhile by claiming a double victory in sizzling triple-digit temperatures when the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Primus Racing Parts visited at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 2-3. He now trails 2015 series champion Tom Hope by just four points heading into the series finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on October 28-29.

The championship battle was thrown wide open by the absence of co-points leader and defending champion Tim de Silva, who had a prior commitment to contest the Goodwood Revival historic event in England, and Rob Negron, who was unable to defend his third place in the points table after sustaining an engine failure during a non-points race at Mazda Raceway in July. Hope, who jointly held the points lead with de Silva prior to the most recent race weekend, had every intention of capitalizing on his rivals’ absence but ran into a buzz-saw in the form of Egner, who claimed maximum points with two poles and fastest race laps in addition to his pair of race wins.

The Canadian, fourth in the points prior to the weekend, qualified on pole for the opening race by a margin of 0.8 second over Hope, with a reinvigorated Scott Vreeland taking third on the grid ahead of rookie Jason Reichert. Paul Rodler qualified fifth on his return the series ahead of another Canadian, Gavin Aitken, veteran Peter West, Jeffrey Pietz and Troy Tinsley, points leader for the National Class for Pinto-engined cars. Nick Kodenko was an unfortunate non-starter after suffering engine problems during practice.

Egner continued his superiority by edging clear of Hope and a spirited battle for third between Reichert and Vreeland, which was settled in the veteran’s favor followed a bold outside line pass in Turn Three.

The gaps were nullified by a full-course caution after a loss of tire pressure caused Aitken to spin in Turn Nine, whereupon he was collected by the unfortunate Pietz. Both cars were eliminated, although Pietz’s PR1 Motorsports crew performed a minor miracle by repairing Pietz’s car in time for Race Two qualifying later in the afternoon.

Soon after the restart West lost his fifth position due to a spin in Turn Five, and there was further drama shortly afterward when the two leaders, Egner and Hope, both developed engine misfires in the closing stages. Egner was able to nurse his car to the victory, 3.034 seconds clear of Vreeland who took advantage of Hope’s misfortune to finish second. Hope narrowly held onto third ahead of Reichert and Hope’s HM Motorsports teammate, rookie Paul Marino, who drove a fine race to fifth after starting at the back of the grid.

Rodler finished sixth ahead of Tinsley, who secured his fourth National Class victory of the season by less than a second over William Jordanov, and a disappointed West.

Race Two once again was all about Egner, who capitalized on his pole position to maintain the lead under braking for the Andretti Hairpin on the opening lap. He then romped clear of the field by more than a second per lap. Hope, who started fifth after his earlier misfire returned in qualifying, vaulted to second at the start with his engine now back on song. Hope’s eighth podium finish of the season means he now leads Egner by four points with only two races remaining.

Rookie Marino continued his excellent progress by following home teammate Hope at a respectful distance to secure his first podium finish ahead of Vreeland, who was shuffled from second on the grid to seventh on the opening lap and had quite a battle on his hands to overcome Reichert. 

Jordanov took the National Class honors in seventh place overall, one place head of Tinsley for whom second place was enough to clinch the championship spoils.

Round 9 – Qualifying
: 1. Mitch Egner, 1:28.483; 2. Tom Hope, 1:29.270; 3. Scott Vreeland, 1:30.388, 4. Jason Reichert, 1:30.892, 5. Paul Rodler, 1:32.024, 6. Gavin Aitken, 1:32.032, 7. Peter West, 1:32.629, 8. Jeffrey Pietz, 1:33.123, 9. Troy Tinsley, 1:33.523; 10. Lyn Greenhill, 1:34.663; 11. William Jordanov, 1:36.668; 12. Paul MacFarlane, 1:39.267; 13. Paul Marino, no time; 14. Nick Kodenko, no time.

Round 9 – Race: 1. Egner; 2. Vreeland, -3.034, 3. Hope, -6.449, 4. Reichert, -6.529, 5. Marino, -11.821, 6. Rodler, -25.988, 7. Tinsley, -29.865, 8. Jordanov, -30.618, 9. Greenhill, -36.646; 10. West, -54.433; 11. MacFarlane, -64.227; 12. Aitken, -11 laps; 13. Pietz, -11 laps; 14. Kodenko, DNS.

Round 10 – Qualifying: 1. Egner, 1:28.728, 2. Vreeland, 1:30.401, 3. Reichert, 1:31.005, 4. Marino, 1:31.291, 5. Hope, 1:32.205, 6. Rodler, 1:32.929. 7. Pietz, 1:34.187, 8. West, 1:34.889, 9. Jordanov, 1:35.313; 10. Greenhill, 1:35.521; 11. Tinsley, no time, 12. MacFarlane, no time, 13. Kodenko, no time; 14. Aitken, no time.

Round 10 Race: 1. Egner; 2. Hope, -17.69 3. Marino, -24.169 4. Vreeland, -27.734 5. Reichert, -35.149 6. West, -78.388 7. Jordanov, -1 lap 8. Tinsley, -1 lap 9. Greenhill, -1 lap, 10. MacFarlane, -1 lap, 11. Pietz, -6 laps, 12. Rodler, DNS, 13. Kodenko, DNS, 14. Aitken, DNS.

About Pacific F2000:
The Pacific F2000 series has a rich history and includes among its alumni drivers J.R. Hildebrand, 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and current driver for Ed Carpenter Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series; Dane Cameron, reigning IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion; 2016 Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires runner-up Patricio O'Ward current Pro Mazda driver Nikita Lastochkin and Yufeng Luo, who also won the SCCA Championship in FC in 2016 and is currently driving in the Pirelli World Challenge.

Pacific F2000 is a feeder series for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, a unique driver development program which offers a clear, scholarship-funded path to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. The Pacific F2000 champion (if under the age of 25 on September 30, 2017) will earn an invitation to the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout. The winner of the knockout style shootout will be provided with a $200,000 Mazda Scholarship to enter the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – the first rung in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR – in 2018.
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