MONTEREY, Calif. – Canadian Scott Hargrove strengthened his lead in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Sunday morning by virtue of a commanding victory in the Allied Building Products Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Since teammate and closest title rival Neil Alberico could manage no better than fourth place in today’s 12th round of the championship, Hargrove now holds a healthy 44-point advantage with only two races remaining at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, on October 5/6.
Hargrove and Alberico also secured a second successive Team Championship for Florida-based Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing this weekend.
Hargrove, 18, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, started from the outside of the front row of the grid for the second day running, alongside yesterday’s debut race winner Alexandre “Alex” Baron (Afterburner Autosport), then took the lead on Lap 2 when Baron made a mistake and ran off the road at the exit of Turn Six.
Hargrove remained in control for the remainder of the race.
His comfortable margin of almost three seconds over fellow Canadian Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport) was erased by a full-course caution after eight laps, when National Class contender James Dayson crashed in Turn Four, but Hargrove held his nerve during a one-lap dash to the checkered flag to cement the victory – his fourth of the season but first since St. Petersburg in March – by 1.160 seconds.
Baron, who holds dual English and French citizenship, held his pole advantage at the start over Hargrove, while Grist was able to make a move around fellow second row starter Alberico going into Turn Two. The top four quickly distanced themselves from the chasing pack which was led by ever-improving Canadian Daniel Burkett, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who headed the five-car Belardi Auto Racing challenge.
Baron’s mistake on Lap 2 dropped him to fourth position, where he remained until the final lap, when a late lunge to the inside under braking for the Corkscrew moved him to a podium finish. Alberico, from Los Gatos, Calif., had to be content with fourth ahead of Burkett, who easily bettered his previous best finish of ninth.
Wyatt Gooden, from Cleveland, Ohio, capped an excellent weekend for Afterburner Autosport by accelerating past Jason Wolfe (Pabst Racing Services) at the late restart to snare sixth place, while 16-year-old Frenchman Florian Latorre posted another strong drive for JAY Motorsports, sneaking past Wolfe on the final lap for seventh.
Australian newcomer Scott Andrews finished ninth for JDC MotorSports, narrowly ahead of Florida teenager RC Enerson, who climbed from 16th to 10th for ZSports with Team E Racing, and Norwegian Henrik Furuseth (PRL Racing), who claimed the Tilton Hard Charger Award by surging from 18th on the grid to 11th.
Ryan Verra scored his second USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises victory in as many days to maintain the Alliance Autosport team’s 100 percent record in 2013.
Additional contingency awards included the Staubli Award to Burkett, the PFC Award to the winning car owners of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Alliance Autosport and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Verra.
Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – First: “Yesterday was hard but the team did a great job to get me back out on the lead lap after a nose change. I love racing here at Mazda Raceway. The track is phenomenal, especially going through the Corkscrew in these cars. We carry a lot of speed through there and it is a lot of fun. It was a good race. I feel great heading into Houston. I know the championship is mine to lose at this point and I need to just keep my head down.”
Garett Grist, #7 DaVinci Foods (Andretti Autosport) – Second: “It wasn’t an easy weekend. Usually we come out of the box with a great car, and we worked well as a team to get the car back into podium shape. I had some pressure from Neil [Alberico] in the race but I have been racing with him all year and know what he is like and I know he is clean, so I just focused on hitting my marks. I knew if I hit my marks that I wouldn’t have to worry.”
Alexandre “Alex” Baron, #18 13th Avenue (Afterburner Autosport) – Third: “I was able to get by Neil [Alberico] on the last lap for third. I am pretty happy with the weekend – a win, two poles and another podium today. I want to thank the team for their great job. I also want to say that I will be coming back to compete at Houston and I am looking forward to that.”
Ryan Verra, #25 Capto Scientia/Enemy Sport/Cancer Research Society (Alliance Autosport) – First National Class: “It felt pretty good to win again. We had really good momentum coming into today. We have been working on the setup throughout the weekend. We were fastest yesterday, and I would like to thank my team.”
About Allied Building Products Corp.
Allied Building Products Corp. is a wholesale distributor of exterior and interior building materials with $1.7 billion in annual revenues. Allied services professional contractors in 33 states with residential and commercial roofing, waterproofing, siding, windows, drywall, acoustical, metal framing and solar products along with all related accessories. Allied is a division of Oldcastle, Inc., the North American holding company for CRH plc (NYSE: CRH). For more information about Allied Building Products, visit www.alliedbuilding.com.
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