May 2, 2012
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is back in action this week as a field of 24 drivers will take to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tomorrow for a pair of official series test days on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course. The outing will offer 15 total hours of track time to prepare drivers for Rounds 6 and 7 of the championship when the series returns to the Lexington, Ohio-based circuit on August 4 and 5, and additional road course events at Road America and Virginia International Raceway.
On Friday, drivers will travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic, joining their fellow competitors in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights. Hosted by INDYCAR’s Director of Grassroots Initiatives Jason Penix and led by multiple driving champion and USF2000 driving coach Gerardo Bonilla, the clinic covers all aspects of oval racing with the intricacies supported by video footage.
The panel of experts who will be sharing their oval racing knowledge include INDYCAR President of Competition Beaux Barfield, IZOD IndyCar Series driver and team owner Ed Carpenter, former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and Elite Engines owner Steve Knapp, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team owner and former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, and former driver, INDYCAR race steward and Cooper Tires Technical/Driver Consultant, Performance Advisor and spokesman Johnny Unser.
Drivers – many of whom will be turning their first oval laps – will have the opportunity to put these lessons to practice the very next day during a test at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, May 5. Sharing the track with Star Mazda, USF2000 drivers will have five hours of testing on the 0.686-mile oval in preparation for the popular “Night Before the 500” on May 26 – Round 5 of USF2000 competition and the only oval event on the series calendar.
“May is always a great month of learning for our drivers,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “With 20 hours of testing, the oval clinic and Mazda Road to Indy Summit activities around the Indy 500, the goal is to provide our drivers with all the tools to be successful on track, gain exposure and move up the racing ladder. INDYCAR is a tremendous supporter of the next generation of talent as witnessed by these programs and they are continually striving to bring more to the table. The entire ladder system is just a fantastic program.”
Summit activities surrounding the Indianapolis 500 include an autograph session on Community Day, a shop tour of Andretti Autosport hosted by Michael Andretti, track laps at the famed Brickyard, a driver fitness and wellness course by PitFit Training, a meet-and-greet with IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights team owners as well as the opportunity for the winners of the “Night Before the 500” in USF2000 and Star Mazda and Firestone Freedom 100 races to be interviewed on the Victory podium minutes before the start of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Additionally, current USF2000 Championship Class points leader Spencer Pigot, driver of the #2 Team Pelfrey/Doug Mockett & Company/E-merging Technologies/Parathyroid.com Van Diemen for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, will line up alongside the current Star Mazda points leader to pace the Firestone Freedom 100 race.
Pigot, who won three of the first four events held at Sebring International Raceway and the streets of St. Petersburg, has a two-point lead in the standings over teammate Matthew Brabham (#83 DTE Group Van Diemen). The National Class championship is currently led by 15-year-old RC Enerson, a two-time race winner this season, aboard the #10 Patriot Bank/Team E entry for ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing.