An overall Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course note first before the start of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda report: Cooper Tires has taken over the primary signage at the track as of this morning, replacing Goodyear following the expiration of Goodyear’s contract with the track.
— Team Cooper Tire (@TeamCooperTire) July 31, 2016
Notable visible changes are on the media center banner and the Turn 1 overpass. Cooper Tires’ headquarters is in nearby Findlay, Ohio, and this is a huge weekend for the company with a significant number of guests and associates here this weekend. Cooper Tires is an invaluable partner of the Mazda Road to Indy, having recently also stepped up to become the overall presenting sponsor of the series.
And with that, the race notes…
Anthony Martin completed both a weekend sweep for himself and the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team following this morning’s third 30-minute race of the weekend for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series, the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder.
Cape has delivered its second straight weekend sweep at Mid-Ohio in USF2000 with one driver, Nico Jamin having done so last year.
And for good measure, Jamin promptly swept the pair of Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, so Cape went a perfect five-for-five this weekend at the 2.258-mile road course.
Martin, in the No. 8 Cape car, beat teammate Parker Thompson in the No. 2 car for the second consecutive day, and extended his points lead in the process.
In third place, and scoring his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda podium, was Garth Rickards out of Mechanicsburg, Penn., in the No. 22 Pabst Racing entry.
It marked Pabst’s first podium of the weekend after ArmsUp Motorsports and JAY Motorsports had been the other non-Cape teams to get on the rostrum.
Here was the starting grid:
|10||4||Jordan Cane||1:22.4099||Race 2|
|12||80||Robert Megennis||1:22.4350||Race 2|
|18||19||Michai Stephens||1:23.6871||Race 2|
|20||12||Eric Filgueiras||1:24.6642||Race 2|
|21||20||Clint McMahan||1:24.6650||Race 2|
Martin jumped out to an early lead over Thompson, with Rickards and Victor Franzoni getting around Dakota Dickerson on the opening lap for third and fourth. Jordan Lloyd, Nikita Lastochkin, Luke Gabin, Jordan Cane and Robert Megennis rounded out the top 10.
Lloyd passed Dickerson for fifth on Lap 2. Meanwhile Lucas Kohl ran off course at Turns 4 and 5 on the same lap, but the Brazilian rookie in the No. 34 John Cummiskey Racing car continued without damage.
Martin’s gap to Thompson was 0.5302 of a second on Lap 5, and for the remainder of the 30-minute, 22-lap race, it fluctuated between a low point of 0.2538 (Lap 12) and high point of 0.9820 (Lap 20) throughout the race.
On Lap 10 there wasn’t much change in the order – Martin still clear of Thompson, Rickards, Franzoni, Lloyd, Dickerson, Lastochkin, Cane, Gabin and Megennis.
Gabin went off a couple laps later and fell to 15th place, which cost him a top-10 position for JAY Motorsports.
While Thompson got close he was unable to get around Martin and that’s how it was to the finish, with Martin winning a closer-than-it-looked finish by 0.3101 of a second for his series-leading seventh win of the season in 14 races.
After Pabst Racing swept the season opening weekend at St. Petersburg, Cape has won 11 of the 12 races since – Martin with seven wins to Thompson’s four.
Post-race, Martin noted how he didn’t expect to go from 20 points down entering the weekend to now 21 points up leaving it. The Australian’s points lead is 347 points to Thompson’s 326. He held off Thompson, who tried to pressure him into a mistake.
Thompson was particularly frustrated given his testing pace from a pre-race test at Mid-Ohio didn’t translate to leading a single session this weekend. The talented young Canadian said they “never hit the sweet spot” this weekend, owing to the challenge of different rubber (Firestone, Cooper and Pirelli) and the changing weather conditions at the grip-sensitive race track.
Both drivers expressed their desire to win the pole position at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, because passing is difficult.
Rickards, meanwhile, called this “like a win” to finally be on a USF2000 podium, considering this is the closest thing to a home race for him. He lives roughly six hours away and given his relationship with the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, based in Ohio, this was an important weekend for him to deliver the goods. While he hasn’t had the strongest year, he’s determined to end the year on a high note.
That concludes the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda portion of the weekend on TSO Ladder and one final Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race later today will wrap up the full weekend coverage. We thank you for your reads and support.