By Patrick Stephan (@TSO_Patrick)
The second and final USF2000 race of the weekend got started under clear/blue skies and with temperatures in the temperatures approaching 80 degrees here on the waterfront in St. Petersburg.
This race didn’t get off as cleanly as the morning event. Up front, things were relatively clean though there was a lot of tire smoke as the driver’s piled in to Turn 1. But, at the back, we saw some contact, including one car climbing someone else’s tires and getting up on the two wheels. They didn’t turn over though, and we didn’t get a replay, but I’m pretty sure the car up in the air was Bruna Tomaselli, who is running a National Class car.
As the field worked through Turn 1 and Turn 2, things started to get a little cleaner, but we did see something odd. A couple cars dove inside of the curbing in Turn 3 – taking a straight shot through there. Seemed to be an “escape” option for those drivers, and we didn’t hear of any immediate penalties, so presuming they didn’t make any spots with the move.
Pole sitter Parker Thompson was able to stay out front, with second place Oliver Askew just behind him during the early part of the race.
By the time we got a full course yellow for Andre Castro on Lap 4, the Top-5 was Thompson, Askew, VeeKay, Megennis, and Dickerson. The big movers so far were Luke Gabin coming from 11th to 7th, and Devin Wojcik going from 14th to 9th.
We didn’t get a replay of the Andre Castro crash, but he apparently had contact in Turn 2. He’s going to be glad to get out of St. Pete, he’s had a rough weekend with multiple crashes.
Back to green at the end of lap 10, Parker Thompson gets a little wide under braking and loses three spots in Turn 1. Askew took over the lead, with VeeKay in second. Megennis muscled his way to third down in Turn 4, and Kaylen Frederick moved to fourth. Thompson finished the next lap in 5th.
On lap 12, Askew was already enjoying the clean air and was 1.5501 seconds ahead of VeeKay. Race #1 winner Megennis is third. Several car lengths back in fourth is Frederick, who is getting a lot of pressure from Thompson who is trying to get some of those spots back he lost on the restart.
Megennis passed VeeKay for second in Turn 4, and then got passed back later that lap (Turn 8?) on lap 18. But, then Megennis slid wide at Turn 10, and slammed the right rear corner in to the concrete barrier at the exit of the turn. He kept going with the right rear folded up, and pulled off to the right side of the track – mostly out of the way heading toward Turn 11. We did not go yellow.
With Askew up front and two laps to go, Parker Thompson made a strong move in Turn 1 to get to 3rd, bringing Luke Gabin with him as Kaylen Frederick goes down to fifth.
They would finish that way, with Askew’s margin of victory 1.2 seconds over VeeKay.
Oliver Askew was nearly speechless in victory lane, as his tearful parents stood by and watched him do his post race radio interview. He did say, “I’m almost about to cry myself.”
Cameron Das made it to 9th from 18th starting spot. Another big mover was Devin Wojcik, who got 7th from 14th. Luke Gabin started 11th and almost made the podium, finishing 4th.
Here is the unofficial finishing order:
|6||36||Dakota||Dickerson||21||4.1598||Active||Newman Wachs Racing|
|9||38||Cameron||Das||21||10.8155||Active||Newman Wachs Racing|
|15||34||Kris||Wright||21||21.7216||Active||John Cummiskey Racing|
|18||12||Moises||de la Vara||20||16||Active||DEForce Racing|
|20||37||Andre||Castro||4||16L||Contact||Newman Wachs Racing|
Couple quick notes from the ProMazda Race #1 Podium:
TJ Fischer was very thankful when he came in to the media center. He talked about his “Project 02” platform this year. He is using racing to push/educate kids to keep competing in sports even if they have asthma (which he does). The program exists to encourage proper treatment and management of the illness so kids don’t have to let it put them on the sidelines.
On catching up to the front two cars, he said they can make a few tweaks. He also noted tomorrow’s race is a 40 minute race, today’s was 30 and the tires were just starting go off at the end of today’s race. He’s expecting to be sliding around a lot at the end of the race tomorrow.
Franzoni about his crazy week getting this ride this weekend. He was planning to run a USF2000 car here for ArmUp Motorsports. But, while he was off at NOLA doing his day job (mechanic/tuner on a go kart), he got a call from Juncos with a really good deal to run in ProMazda.
In the race, he said he was losing some grip when he got close to Martin, and had to depend totally on the tires – and he couldn’t do that for very many laps before he had to back off and try again later.
Martin said this is his first podium in three years here at St. Pete. He was “taking the air away” from Franzoni (as Victor himself noted), and focused on driving to a lap time.
Martin thought he was able to really control the tire wear today, but that extra 10 minutes tomorrow will be a challenge or as he put it, “really gone throw a spanner in the works.”