LEXINGTON, Ohio – Garett Grist finally found his way to victory lane this morning at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, overcoming points leader Scott Hargrove to win Round 10 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Grist, 18, from Grimsby, Ont., Canada, started his Andretti Autosport Van Diemen-Mazda from the pole but lost out to Hargrove as the field sped toward the first turn. Behind, there was mayhem as front row starter Neil Alberico, who had won both races yesterday, made contact with another car and spun in front of the main pack of 28 starters.
After a lengthy red-flag interruption while the track was cleared, the field was repositioned to the original grid order, minus the cars that had been involved in the original accident, with Grist on point ahead of Hargrove (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), RC Enerson (ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing), Henrik Furuseth (PRL Motorsports) and Felipe Donato (ArmsUp Motorsports). Hargrove made a fine jump to displace Grist from the lead at Turn One but maintained that advantage for only two more laps before Grist squeezed past on the inside line under braking for the Keyhole (Turn Two).
The young Canadian, who had lost a potential win in Round Nine yesterday afternoon by running onto the grass at the Carousel while in the lead, made no mistakes this time around, posting a series of fastest race laps as he pulled clear to win by 3.391 seconds.
Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, was content with second, especially since his closest rival in the points, Alberico, was already on the sidelines. Hargrove, though, had his work cut out to maintain second from a charging Enerson, from New Port Richey, Fla., who secured his second podium finish in as many days.
Norwegian teenager Furuseth matched his career best result with fourth ahead of Donato, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, whose previous best finish had been seventh in Toronto.
Brandon Newey (Afterburner Autosport), from Indianapolis, Ind., secured sixth ahead of a fast-closing Michael Epps (Belardi Auto Racing), from Hemel Hempstead, England, who had taken the restart in 13th place and drove impressively through the field to seventh.
Cleveland’s Wyatt Gooden (Afterburner Autosport) emerged in front of a frantic battle for eighth that also included Austin Cindric (Andretti Autosport), from Mooresville, N.C., and Matt McMurry (Belardi Auto Racing), from Phoenix, Ariz., both of whom claimed career-best finishes.
Gooden also earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting a lowly 19th on the grid.
Camden, Ohio’s Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport) once again was untroubled en route to his ninth win in the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises in as many races this season.
Contingency awards included the Staubli Award to Furuseth, the PFC Award to the winning car owners of Andretti Autosport and Alliance Autosport and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Rettich.
Garett Grist, #7 DaVinci Foods (Andretti Autosport) – First: “This has been a long timing coming. Even yesterday, I thought we had a chance to get two wins but I made a mistake and we had a mechanical. That stuff happens but the win today is big. It is big for the team and for me and everyone is feeling good now. On the pass [for the lead], I think I almost had two wheels on the grass going up the inside into [Turn] Two. I have to thank Scott for giving me just enough room to pull it off. I knew he was thinking about championship points, too, and I wouldn’t want to be the guy to ruin his championship. So, thank you to Scott. Once I had the pass done, I just focused on checking out. I knew we had a good car and I knew we were fast in both races yesterday so I knew we had the pace to pull away.”
Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – Second: “I had a really good start and a really good restart so I was able to take the lead both times, but Garett was quicker today. I have to give him credit. He made a really good move into the Keyhole and I gave him room. I was thinking championship points and they are looking good now going into the final four races. The weekend started out on a low note but two second places to end the weekend is definitely something I am thankful for and I have to thank Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. They gave me a great car again. Being able to run in the top three is not always easy, especially when the track conditions were as difficult as they were today. It was really slippery out there. Thanks to everyone involved and I can’t wait to go to the final four races.”
RC Enerson, #10 Team E/Patriot Bank (ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing) – Third: “It is definitely a good result today. The start of the race was crazy. I only saw the beginning of it develop and got around the outside. When I came back around, it was absolutely devastating to see eight or nine cars in the wall. For the restart, I was just trying to hang onto it and keep up with Garett and Scott. I maybe had something for Scott if there were more laps left, but I couldn’t get the run he was getting out of [Turn] Two to go for a move in [Turn] Four.”
Scott Rettich, #71 PDI Communication Systems/Springboro Car Wash (Alliance Autosport) – First (National Class): “It feels very good to win at my home track. The start was very crazy. You typically don’t expect wrecks on the straightaways but you have to be prepared for it. I had to zig zag through many wrecked race cars and debris. I was able to stay on the asphalt the entire time but it was a job getting through that for sure.”
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 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. 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