USF2000 Championship Titles On the Line in VIR Season Finale
 September 11, 2012| 
  • Series News
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PALMETTO, Fla. – The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda heads to Virginia International Raceway this week for a pair of season-ending races that will determine both the Championship and National Class titles as well as numerous rankings in the final driver standings. This is the series first visit to the 3.27-mile, 17-turn permanent road course where it will compete in support of the American Le Mans Series which will also be making its debut at the Alton, Va., circuit.

USF2000 hosted a one-day test at VIR last week that was followed by rave reviews from its drivers. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, which clinched USF2000 Team Championship honors at Baltimore two weeks ago, continued its front-running pace claiming the fastest times unofficially in both the Championship and National Classes during testing.

“We are excited to see the titles in both our championships go down to the wire at VIR, which is just a first-class facility,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “The fast and undulating circuit provides the perfect landscape for our drivers to battle it out for their final standings. We are looking forward to capping off a great season of USF2000 competition and crowning our champions.”

Brabham Versus Pigot in the Championship Class
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Matthew Brabham and Spencer Pigot are set to wrestle for the Championship Class title and a $375,000 scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Star Mazda competition in 2013.

Brabham is currently on top with a 41-point advantage heading into the race meeting. The 18-year-old from Manalapan, Fla., has already clinched the VP Rookie of the Year title with 11 podiums in 12 rounds of competition that included four wins, five seconds and two thirds. The third generation racer who pilots the #83 DTE Group Van Diemen has taken advantage of the bonus points available, collecting one marker each for six poles, eight fastest laps and five ‘most laps led’ in a race.

“I loved the track,” said Brabham, who was quickest in the first session at the recent VIR test. “It’s definitely one of my favorite circuits now. It was awesome fun driving the track and I really enjoyed the day of testing. Our team was very much on top of things and we were really quick all day. I'm looking forward to the race and I'm sure our speed from the test will carry into the race weekend. My goal for the race will be the same as usual, to try and win the races and let the championship take care of itself.” 

Pigot, also 18, has notched the most wins to date with six this season and three additional podium finishes – one second and two thirds. He also earned additional bonus points for three poles, two fastest race laps and six ‘most laps led’. The sophomore USF2000 driver from Orlando, Fla, who finished second in last year’s title chase, saw his hold on the championship lead slip in Brabham’s favor after two DNF’s – the most recent at Baltimore where he was eliminated while lapping a slower car – and a penalty at Road America. Pigot (#2 Team Pelfrey, Doug Mockett & Company, E-merging Technologies, Parathyroid.com, California Scents) remains positive heading into the final races.

“The track is really cool,” he said after the test. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been here, and driving it in a USF2000 car is a ton of fun. The test went well. We were fast and got a lot of information that we can use to improve when we come back next week so I’m looking forward to the races. The goal is the same as always, win both races, so we’ll see what we can do!”

Scott Anderson, 23, from Fort Collins, Colo., while mathematically being eliminated from the championship title, sits third in the standings – only 26 points shy of Pigot – and has been on a hot streak recording six podium finishes in his last seven starts aboard Belardi Auto Racing’s #14 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, Neuropathy Testing Center, Laser Mail Centers featuring the OtterCares® Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda including two wins. Hot on his heels and 35 points in arrears is 17-year-old Canadian talent Matthew Di Leo.

Di Leo, also a sophomore USF2000 driver finishing fifth in the 2011 championship, has proven that his single-car, family-run MDL Racing team can compete against the big guns. Di Leo, who pilots the #56 Res Precast entry, has four podiums to his credit – two seconds and two thirds – and eight top-five drives. MDL Racing is currently third in the Team Championship point standings in a heated battle with Andretti Autosport and JDC MotorSports. Belardi Auto Racing has secured the second spot in the rankings.

USF2000 Top-10 Championship Class Driver Standings Entering VIR:
(Note: A maximum of 66 points are available – 30 per race win with one bonus point each for pole, fastest race lap and most laps led.)

1.   Matthew Brabham (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing)   307 points
2.   Spencer Pigot (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) 266
3.   Scott Anderson (Belardi Auto Racing) 240
4.   Matthew Di Leo (MDL Racing) 205
5.   Roman Lagudi (Belardi Auto Racing) 173
6.   Trent Hindman (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) 154
7.   Neil Alberico (JDC MotorSports) 128
8.   Luigi Biangardi (ArmsUp Motorsports) 127
9.   Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) 124
10. Thomas McGregor (Andretti Autosport) 110

Three-Way Battle for National Class Title
Teenaged talents RC Enerson and Henrik Furuseth and veteran Mark Eaton are currently in a tight battle for National Class honors and the scholarship package to move up to the Championship Class in 2013.

Enerson, 15, from New Port Richey, Fla., is currently on point by virtue of four wins, two seconds and two thirds. The ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing driver holds a seven-point advantage entering the final rounds in the #10 Patriot Bank, Team E entry. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Henrik Furuseth lies second in the standings. The 16-year-old from Eidsvoll, Norway, leads the class with the most wins at five in addition to a second and third-place finish aboard the #32 Palfinger, Akrene Mek Verksted FE car.

Both Enerson and Furuseth were involved in incidents in Round 12 at Baltimore, opening the door for Mark Eaton (#92 Deathtolionfish.org, Valvoline with Robinson Motor Sports) to close. Eaton, a former two-time SCCA Formula Enterprises National champion, took the victory in the final race at Baltimore and is now only three points in arrears of Furuseth. 

USF2000 Top-5 National Class Driver Standings Entering VIR:
(Note: A maximum of 44 points are available – 22 per race win.)

1.   RC Enerson (ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing) 168 points

2.   Henrik Furuseth (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) 161
3.   Mark Eaton (Robinson Motor Sports) 158
4.   Patrick Gallagher (JAY Motorsports)  95
5.   Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport)  79

Ones to Watch
Several drivers are coming off their best performances to date in the last rounds of competition on the streets of Baltimore: Neil Alberico of JDC MotorSports (#19 Kartel Motorsports, Bondurant School, RaceLite Protection, Red Line Oil) who finished fourth; Luigi Biangardi of ArmsUp Motorsports who narrowly missed the podium with his third fourth-place run this year in the #15 Inject-it, Gulfstream Properties, Slick Locks, Chicago Indoor Racing entry; Scott Hargrove of JDC MotorSports who captured his first USF2000 podium finish of third aboard the #38 Analytic Systems, Race Energy, Skip Barber Racing, Red Line Oil car; and Jason Wolfe of JAY Motorsports (#23 Wolfe Trucking Inc., JAY Motorsports, ProMotion Driver Development), who brought home a pair of top-10 finishes including a career-high eighth.

In the National Class, Patrick Gallagher of JAY Motorsports (#91 CTL Engineering, ProMotion Driver Development, Howard Concrete Pumping) claimed his third top-three finish; teammate Jim Libecco (#98 Akron Skin Center, www.akronskin.com) posted a second-place drive to match his season career-best from Mid-Ohio; Patrick Linn claimed a career-high fourth-place result in the #99 PRL Motorsports entry; and JR Smart of Pabst Racing Service #6 Smart Motors, Inc.) extended his run of consecutive top-five finishes to four with a fourth and fifth-place drive.


Breaking Out the Hardware
USF2000 will host its 2012 awards banquet at the Marriott Downtown Greensboro on Saturday, September 15, following the final race of the season earlier that day. In addition to the champion’s awards in both classes and VP Rookie of the Year, USF2000 will acknowledge positions two through five in the Championship Class and runner-up in the National Class with prize money and awards. Additional awards include the Tilton Hard Charger Award, Bosch Mechanic of the Year, Peak Performance Awards, Gregory & Appel “Securing Tomorrow” Award, USF2000 Spirit Award, PFC Award and the tongue-in-cheek Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award for the team that has logged the most “frequent-flyer miles” with the supplier.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Virginia Schedule
Track action will kick off early with two 50-minute test sessions this Wednesday at 9:05 am EDT and 2:20 pm. Thursday’s schedule will see two official practice sessions at 8:45 am and 11:45 am, followed by qualifying at 5:00 pm. The first of the pair of races will take place at 11:40 am on Friday, just after ALMS practice, and at 9:15 on Saturday, before the ALMS warm up. Live commentary and Timing & Scoring at be found at www.usf2000.com. The rounds will be broadcast in the coming months during the Mazda Motorsports Hour on the Velocity network.
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