USF2000 – Milwaukee Wrap-Up

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What a crazy busy weekend as open-wheel racing returned to the Milwaukee Mile. The weekend certainly didn’t go as smoothly, nor as successfully as many had hoped, but there were some fans that showed up and we got to see some racing in spite of the downpour on Sunday morning. It seemed like this weekend was filled with all kinds of off-track drama from the way the race was promoted and managed, to some extremely serious controversy in the Firestone Indy Lights series. Looking on the bright side, though, the Mazda Road to Indy drivers from the Cooper Tires Presents the US F2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, and the Firestone Indy Lights Series all got to compete in front of their potential future employers, the team owners of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

On Saturday, Zach Veach put the #7 Zakosi Data Backup/Andretti Autosport Van Diemen-Mazda on the pole for the third time this season out of five events! As I noted in my preview of the weekend, there are three main front-runners in the championship, Veach, Suvanto, and Pigot. Qualifying this weekend showed that there’s a dark horse lurking in the wings ready to pounce on any mistakes made by the three leaders. Belardi Auto Racing’s Wayne Boyd qualified his #4 machine on the outside of Row 1. Wayne would go on to take the win and score Belardi’s first win of the year, and become this season’s fifth different winner in only six races! Who says junior formula racing can’t provide exciting championships? Veach would come in P2, but Suvanto and Pigot would languish in the middle of the pack finishing P5 and P6, respectively. This allowed Veach to gain some ground on Suvanto, closing the gap to only 17 points. While Boyd isn’t quite close enough to challenge Suvanto’s position yet, his win puts him in easy striking distance to Veach and Pigot.

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“I started on the front row in P2 beside Zach. He made a good start and I didn’t. I really struggled and went into the first turn in third or fourth. I had to commit to the outside line and it really paid off. I went around the outside behind Zach and caught a good draft off of him going into [Turn] Three and was able to get him on the inside. After that, I just put my head down and kept consistent because I knew Zach had a good pace under him as well. I put my head down, judged the traffic accordingly and it was a good race for us. I want to say a massive thanks to Belardi Auto Racing for all their help. They were a brand new team this year and they got their first win. Also, a massive thanks to the Milwaukee Irish Fest for their continued support.” — Wayne Boyd, #4 Belardi Auto Racing

The drive of the race, however, has to go to JDC MotorSport’s Juan Pietrahita. Juan demolished the right side of his #19 Van Diemen-Mazda coming out of Turn 4 too wide on his final qualifying lap. Starting from dead last, he fought his way through the field to claim the final podium position and finish P3. It was quite a remarkable run especially when you consider that he had to pass his teammate Luke Ellery, who showed at the Night Before the 500 that knows how to race ovals, and two championship contenders in Petri Suvanto and Spencer Pigot.

“First of all, I want to thank the JDC team for all of their effort. Yesterday, we had a really tough day. After being fast, I put the car in the wall during qualifying. I knew the car was really good. In the race, I gave all I had. The first couple of laps were really good. My car was great in traffic and I was able to move up to P3. I was moving close to the front two but in the end my car was getting loose and I had to be delicate with the steering wheel. Third place is a good result and I am really happy.” — Juan Pietrahita, #19 JDC MotorSport

While the Star Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy Lights series are off to the Iowa Speedway next weekend, the US F2000 National Championship will take a 7-week break and race again until the first weekend in August at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. I must admit, I’m not a big fan of large gaps in a schedule like this. It destroys the momentum and continuity of the championship battle, and it causes us flighty fans to often become engaged in something else, forgetting about the series until after the first race back. Having just one extra event sometime in early to mid-July would go a long way toward preserving the flow of the championship. Come to think of it, not much is happening at Heartland Park Topeka around that time. HINT HINT!! I know, not going to happen, but I can still wish for a closer-to-home race in 2012, can’t I?

Milwaukee Race Results

Finish Start Driver Team
1 2 Wayne Boyd Belardi Auto Racing
2 2 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
3 2 Juan Pietrahita JDC MotorSport
4 2 Luke Ellery JDC MotorSport
5 2 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports
6 2 Spencer Pigot Andretti Autosport
7 2 Timmy Megenbie Sick Tea Motorsports
8 2 Matthew DiLeo Brian Stewart Racing
9 2 Shannon McIntosh Cape Motorsports
10 2 Luca Forgeois Pabst Racing Services
11 2 J.R. Smart Pabst Racing Services

Championship Standings

1 PETRI SUVANTO 25 22 26 33 33 17 156
2 ZACH VEACH 33 14 22 19 25 26 139
3 SPENCER PIGOT 22 25 32 25 19 15 138
4 WAYNE BOYD 10 15 14 22 17 32 110
5 LUKE ELLERY 19 31 1 13 8 19 91
6 JUAN PIEDRAHITA 15 17 1 12 22 22 89
7 MATTHEW DILEO 12 10 19 14 15 13 83
8 TIMMY MEGENBIER 14 1 1 15 14 14 59
9 SHANNON MCINTOSH 7 9 13 8 10 12 59
10 VINCENT BELTOISE 13 1 15 17 12 0 58
11 COLE MORGAN 17 19 17 1 0 0 54

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