Two races are now in the books for the 14-race Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda 2012 season. Race 2 at the Sebring International Raceway took place this morning right before lunch with all 36 entries from yesterday taking to the track again today. The starting line-up for Race 2 was determined by the fastest race laps in Race 1. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver and Race 1 winner Matthew Brabham (@MattyBrabs) started on pole alongside his teammate Spencer Pigot (@SpencerPigot). ArmsUp Motorsports pilot and Race 1 pole winner Luigi Biangardi and Andretti Autosports’ Trend Hindman both started at the back of the 36-car field after making contact in Turn 1 of Lap 1 of Race 1. Having set no official lap time, the two lightning fast drivers had to start dead last. Good thing for us is that the two, especially Luigi, really put on a show as they sliced their way quickly through the field and back toward the front.
As soon as the green flag dropped, Brabham and Pigot were going at each other hammer and tongs! Fortunately, the field made it cleanly through Turn 1, but Dalton Kellet lost control and was t-boned in Turn 5. The incident was quickly cleared and only warranted a local caution. By the end of Lap 1, Biangardi had moved up to P16! I can’t wait to see the replay of that first lap on Velocity’s Mazda Motorsports Hour this coming April. Trent Hindman also had an impressive first lap moving up to P22. By Lap 2, Biangardi improved even further to P13.
The track was tricky this morning, as several drivers would spin, most without incident. Shannon McIntosh spun on Lap 2, but was able to regain control and continue. Colette Davis spun and stalled in Turn 17 on Lap 4, and Patrick Gallagher spun in Turn 7, a turn that caught many drivers out yesterday and today, on Lap 5. Neither Patrick nor Colette were able to get her car refired forcing officials to bring out a full-course yellow on Lap 6 to assist the stranded drivers off the track.
Brabham had built up a comfortable lead on his teammate prior to the FCY, but once the field was bunched up again for the restart on Lap 7, the knife fight resumed! Trent and Matthew went into Turn 1 side-by-side with Trent on the outside. Carrying more exit speed, Trent secured the lead eliciting an excited “BOOK IT!” from Rob, the USF2000 announcer on the live audio stream. Biangardi had worked his way up into the top-10 taking the green at the restart in P9. Hindman would suffer the most ill of luck on the first lap after the restart by being rear-ended by one car in Turn 7, spinning out, and then being struck hard by another car that was ten or so positions behind and not fully heeding the yellow flags.
With debris littered throughout Turn 7 and the race edging up on it’s 30-minute window, the race was ended on Lap 10 under caution. Spencer Pigot would retain his lead and take the victory over Matthew Brabham. Brabham would take away the championship lead from the weekend, however, having a better result in Race 2 than Pigot had in Race 1, plus having bonus points for fast lap and pole position. The duo finishing both races on the podium, though, sets Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in a dominant position in the team championship, leading Belardi Auto Racing by 30 points.
“The race obviously ended up pretty well for me. Matt [Matthew Brabham] was faster when we took the green [flag] so it was tough to keep up with him. I knew the restart was going to be my only chance to try for the win and I was able to get him on the outside of Turn One. Overall, it was a good weekend from where we started off yesterday. It is great to get a win when you are not really the fastest guy out there so it’s pretty satisfying. A big thanks to Cape Motorsports, Team Pelfrey, Doug Mockett and all of my sponsors.” — Spencer Pigot, #2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
In the National Class, Mark Eaton clawed his way up to the class lead and P15 overall by Lap 2, but would fall back and be overtaken by Henrik Furuseth. They would keep those relative positions for the remainder of the race, but Eaton leaves Sebring with a 3-point edge over the Norwegian as the series now heads to the Streets of St. Petersburg.
“This win felt really good. This is my first time racing in America and my second race. I had a good battle with Mark Eaton. He passed me twice and I was able to pass him back. It is a great feeling to win and I am very happy.” — Henrik Furuseth, #32 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
It’s difficult to say whether we’ll see the same mid-30s field next weekend at St. Pete as we did at Sebring, but if we do, the officials had better make sure the track sweepers are on full tanks and ready to roll. I suspect there will be a lot of shrapnel to pick up in Turn 1 and Turn 9.