SEBRING, Fla. – Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Neil Alberico put an exclamation mark on his start to the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. The 20-year-old driver from Los Gatos, Calif., was a mark of consistency and made a clean sweep of all three rounds of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Sebring International Raceway.
Alberico, who also started on pole for each race, heads to the final three rounds of Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway with a 21-point advantage over teammate Scott Hargrove.
Hargrove, who finished second in each round, narrowed the gap to Alberico significantly in Race 3 and also bettered Alberico’s fastest race lap, but a small mistake cost him a shot for the top spot on the podium. The Vancouver, BC, Canada native is looking forward to resuming the chase in three days’ time.
Garett Grist,17, of Andretti Autosport finished third in the final 12-lap race around the 3.74-mile road course. The rookie from Grimsby, Ontario, Canada who finished fourth in Race 2 earlier in the day also managed to dethrone Alberico on best lap times by posting the quickest lap of the race.
Race 2 saw an all Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing podium with James Fletcher securing his first USF2000 top-three result. The 18-year-old from Surrey, England, retired from Race 1 but rebounded and also added a fourth-place result in Race 3.
Other drivers to roll out with impressive runs today include Jesse Lazare of Pabst Racing Services. Lazare, 15, of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, showed steady improvement finishing sixth in Race 2 and fifth in Race 3 on the heels of a seventh-place run in Race 1. Jake Eidson, 17, of Littleton, Colo., posted another sixth-place drive in Race 3 to match his Race 1 result with Afterburner Autosport. Stefan Rzadzinski, 20, of JDC MotorSports brought home a trio of top-10 results over the two days with the Edmonton, Alberta native posting his best result of fourth in Race 1. Belardi Auto Racing’s Peter Portante was also a consistent top-10 driver, claiming his best result of seventh in Race 3.
ArmsUp Motorsports driver James Dayson, from Vancouver. B.C., Canada took home the National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises honors in Race 2 but was sidelined by a mechanical issue in Race 3.
Alberico leads Hargrove by 96 points to 75. The next drivers are covered by a mere 10 points with Grist in third with 47, followed by Lazare (46), Rzadzinski (45), Fletcher (44), Eidson (43), Estrela (22), Portante (40) and Enerson (37).
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing holds a commanding lead in the Team Championship with 120 points. Belardi Auto Racing lies in second place with 40 followed by Andretti Autosport with 29.
Rounds 4 through 6 of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway will take place this Saturday and Sunday, February 9/10. Live timing and scoring will be available at www.usf2000.com.
Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – First: “The Capes did a really good job with the car, obviously, giving me really good equipment. It was just up to me to make minimal mistakes and focus forward. At the end of the day, that’s all that made the difference. Scott [Hargrove] and my other teammates were really fast as well as some other guys. There is no better way to start the season.”
Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – Second: “It is a great feeling to be back on the podium. For sure in that race I felt like I had the best chance to try and get out of the second spot but it was still a phenomenal weekend. The car was great all weekend long and the Cape team just did an awesome job. Hats off to Neil [Alberico]. The pressure doesn’t affect him at all. He just always hits his marks so, like he said on the podium last time, the one that makes the fewest mistakes will win and that was him again this race. I look forward to giving it another shot next time.”
Garett Grist, #7 DaVinci Foods (Andretti Autosport) – Third: “We got off to a slow start with a mechanical problem but we worked well as a team and kept improving the car and now we are here on the podium. I am definitely aiming for more podiums and, hopefully, we can improve the car more and run up front with Neil [Alberico].”
RACE 2 QUOTES:
James Fletcher, #3 (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – Third: “I am still getting used to the car and I was glad to get a full session in without any of the problems with the car that we had yesterday. I am happy to be on the podium and get on my way. I think this has been the hottest weather I have ever raced in compared to -1C in England which it usually is! I am really enjoying it. The track is great as well.”
James Dayson, #16 Dayhu Group of Companies/Me & Lewis Ideas Inc. (ArmsUp Motorsports) – National Class Winner: “I was able to do a personal best and knock four seconds off my time in the race from yesterday. It was nice to stay on the lead lap and I would like to thank all the guys at ArmsUp Motorsports for doing a good job and, hopefully, we can get the car even better for the next race and stay with the pack this time.”
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Star Mazda Championship. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. The company also has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. Additional information can be found at www.us.coopertire.com.
Contact: Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations- firstname.lastname@example.org