The car count was again huge for the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda. Thirty-four cars took to the Streets of St. Petersburg for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2012 season, and again race fans were treated to great action on track in both the Championship and National Classes. It really seems that the series has the balance between the FC and FE cars spot on, although there’s a definite performance differential between the NAT an CHP class cars.
It was a good weekend for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and their two hot shoes Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham, albeit a bit better for Pigot than for Brabham. Spencer picked up right where he left off in Sebring and won the first race of the weekend from the pole, although it wasn’t an unchallenged win. Brabham would hound his teammate and trail by only 0.197s at the finish line. The two cleared 3rd-place Roman Lagudi by nearly four seconds. Clearly, the Cape duo are in the prime position to take the championship this season.
“It was great to get the win in Race 1 at St. Petersburg. It was a difficult race in the beginning and towards the end. The middle section was pretty good. I was able to get through the traffic cleanly and stretch the gap a little bit to Matt [Brabham]. After the yellow, we were close but I was able to hold him off for the win so I am happy about that. It’s my second win of the year and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and trying to do it again.” — Spencer Pigot, #2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
no images were foundThe race didn’t end so well for Neil Alberico and Matthew Di Leo as they would crash out from P3 and P4 on the final lap of the race after making contact with each other in Turn 4 while fighting for the final podium position. Neil was the second JDC MotorSports car to exit early as his teammate Scott Hargrove wound up in the Turn 10 wall earlier in the race.
“We’ve had a rough start to the season. Unfortunately things have not gone our way. Despite our results, we know the pace is there, and that is a good feeling. We just have to continue to work hard as a team, and put all the pieces together.” — Neil Alberico, #19 JDC MotorSports
Sunday’s race was something in the nature of an encore performance for Pigot and Brabham who, again, had a great battle for the race win and put on a fantastic show for the fans. Brabham, by benefit of having set the fastest race lap in Race #1 the previous day, started from pole. His race lead was short-lived as Pigot would make an amazing pass on the outside of Turn 1 for the lead, foreshadowing Helio’s doing the same against Scott Dixon later that afternoon. Brabham was unrelenting in his counterattacks, hounding Pigot, battling with his teammate to regain the race lead. On the final restart of the race, with five laps remaining, Brabham attempted to pass Pigot on the inside of Turn 1, but understeered into Pigot’s right rear, destroying his own left front wing. Brabham would lose contact with his teammate and struggle to retain his 2nd place position against a charging Matthew Di Leo, who smelled blood in the water and relentlessly attacked Brabham’s damaged racing machine.
“It was a little disappointing at times for myself throughout the weekend. I definitely wanted to be on that top step. That’s the place where everyone wants to be and, unfortunately, I wasn’t there. Looking at it as a general weekend in the championship race, I am ecstatic about how it went and very pleased with how it turned out in the end. It could have been a lot worse in that last race without part of my front wing, and I am really happy that I managed to keep up in the championship and left with some really good points out of this weekend.” — Matthew Brabham, #83 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing
Unfortunately for JDC MotorSports, Race #2 didn’t turn out any better than Race #1. While running in third, Scott Hargrove would spin and his teammate Neil Alberico would be taken out again as he and ArmsUp Motorsports’ Luigi Biangardi collected each other trying to avoid the spinning Hargrove.
The Championship Standings
With his third race win in a row, Spencer Pigot leads the USF2000 National Championship by two points over his teammate Matthew Brabham. The pair of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing drivers are well ahead of Belardi Auto Racing’s Roman Lagudi. Even though we’re only two events into a seven-event schedule, I think it’s pretty clear to whom the Team Championship will be going this season. The question remains, which of Cape Motorsports top drivers will end up with the Drivers’ Championship, and the next event could swing in favor of Pigot. Next stop on the USF2000 calendar is the one and only oval course for the season, the 5/8-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis for the Night Before the 500. OpenPaddock will be there! Be sure to stop by and say hello. We’ll be in the grass on the outside of Turn 1 (on the grassy knoll, if you will). See you there!