Stephens Joins Afterburner for Cooper Tires Winterfest
 February 19, 2015| 
  • Team News
Team USA Scholarship driver to make USF2000 debut in Mazda Road to Indy preview series

New Orleans, La. – Afterburner Autosport is pleased to announce a new addition to its driver line-up for this year’s Cooper Tires Winterfest series, which will run on Thursday and Friday (February 19-20) at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, La. Team USA Scholarship winner and Skip Barber series race winner Michai Stephens will join the squad, making his official USF2000 and Mazda Road to Indy debut. The 23-year-old Evanston, Ill., resident will be under the Afterburner tent alongside Brazilian Victor Franzoni.

“From the moment I stepped inside the Afterburner shop, I felt a sense of belonging and comfort,” Stephens offered. “Everyone here has shared a great level of enthusiasm towards our partnership in the Cooper Tires 2015 Winterfest. With a time crunch of almost unbelievable proportions, I could not of asked for anything more. I am greatly looking forward to the coming event with an objective of growth in mind. Tremendous thanks go out to everyone who has helped get me here. Tim Walsh, along with his great supporting staff, have been truly awesome!”

Stephens is the 2013 Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy Shootout Champion, which earned him a full racing season in the 2014 Skip Barber Summer Series. Coincidentally, he made his Summer Series debut at NOLA Motorsports Park last May, the same circuit at which he will debut in USF2000 this weekend. Stephens performed well in the challenging series, earning multiple wins, poles and podiums. He would go on to earn a berth on the prestigious Team USA Scholarship squad, racing in Europe in the famed Formula Ford Festival and the well-supported Walter Hayes Trophy event in which he finished a strong third.

“We’re excited to have Michai with us for Winterfest, alongside Victor and Bruna,” added Afterburner Team Principal Tim Walsh.  “He has a great deal of passion for the sport, he’s focused on developing a professional career, and he comes to us with significant experience thanks to being part of the Team USA Scholarship program in 2014. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do on-track.”

Afterburner Autosport has come out of the gate strongly in 2015, topping five of the six official test sessions with Franzoni, a sophomore in the series. They are looking to begin the competition season off on the right foot with a Winterfest title. After the three races this week in New Orleans, the remaining three races in the six-race Winterfest schedule will be run at Barber Motorsports Park on February 25-26.  Afterburner still has two open race seats for the 2015 season, and these cars are prepped and ready to race at in St. Petersburg to kick off the new year.

Additional information on Afterburner Autosport is available from the team’s website @ www.AfterburnerAutosport.com  For direct contact, please email afterburnerautosport@gmail.com or call Tim Walsh @ 612-581-2499. Keep up-to-date via Twitter @ ABautosport1 and the team’s Facebook page @ Afterburner-Autosport

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, has continually developed and grown as it joined the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. In 2013, Afterburner Autosport scored its inaugural series wins with rookie Alex Baron. Last year, the highly regarded team won again with Victor Franzoni and finished fifth overall in the series championship.

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