By Steve Wittich
Welcome to Part #2 of our 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship preview. You can read Part #1 here –> Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship preview – Part #1 – Anatomy of a Champion.
All of the season opener info you need
Barber Motorsports Park is set to host the 34th USF2000 season-opener.
The 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course is the 16th different track to hold the first race of the year, and the 2021 season-opener will occur in Alabama for the first time.
Alabama is the ninth state to hold the first race of the season. The USF2000 season has got started in Florida on 17 different occasions, the most of any state.
Ten different teams have at least one win in the 20 USF2000 season-opening races since 1997.
Nine drivers – Westley Barber, Matthew Brabham, Doug Bell, Braden Eves, Scott Hargrove, J.R. Hildebrand, Aaron Justus, Kyle Kirkwood, and Bryan Sellers – have all won a season opener while driving for Cape Motorsports. Andretti Autosport and Pabst Racing drivers have won the season-opener on two occasions, the only other teams with multiple wins in the first race of the season.
Cape Motorsports, Jay Howard Driver Development, and Pabst Racing are the three teams that have season-opening wins and are active in 2021.
Seven drivers – Jose Cordova (1992 SCCA), Lance Norick (1995), Urubatan Halou, Jr. (1997), Jason Bowles (2004), Zach Veach (2011), Jordan Lloyd (2016), and Robert Megennis (2017) – won their lone USF2000 race in the season opener.
The average finishing position for the series champion in the season opener is 2.7
The winner of the season-opening USF2000 race has claimed the title 45.5% of the time. Higher than Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights.
In 1990 Vince Puleo won the season-opening race at Willow Springs International Raceway. He went on to win three more times on the way to the USAC Formula 2000 Championship Series title.
The last three USF2000 champions – Christian Rasmussen (2020), Braden Eves (2019), and Kyle Kirkwood (2018) – all used wins in the first race of the year as a springboard to the title.
The eventual USF2000 champion has finished on the podium in 66.7% of the season-openers.
Not a single USF2000 champion has had a Did Not Finish (DNF) in the season-opening race. On three occasions, the title winner finished seventh in the first race of the year, the worst of their results.
The average championship finish of the first USF2000 winner of the season is 3.3. If you exclude season-opening winners that did not contest an entire season, the average finish falls to 2.8.
Only twice, Lance Norick in 1995 and Urubatan Helou, Jr. in 1997, has the winner of the season opener that contested every race that season, finished outside of the top ten in points.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at Barber Motorsports Park
The first of four doubleheader weekends at Barber Motorsports Park was dominated by RC Enerson (Team E) in 2014. The last time that the bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires raced at Barber Motorsports Park was in 2017.
USF2000 winners at Barber Motorsports Park
|2017 Race #2||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports|
|2017 Race #1||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports|
|2016 Race #2||Parker Thompson||Cape Motorsports|
|2016 Race #1||Parker Thompson||Cape Motorsports|
|2015 Race #2||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports|
|2015 Race #1||Aaron Telitz||Cape Motorsports|
|2014 Race #2||RC Enerson||Team E Racing|
|2014 Race #1||RC Enerson||Team E Racing|
The current USF2000 track records at Barber Motorsports Park are:
- Qualifying: 83.009 seconds set on February 25, 2014, by Michael Epps (Belardi Auto Racing)
- Race: 83.456 seconds set on February 26, 2014, by RC Enerson (Team E)
Barber Motorsports Park quick hitters
- None of the current USF2000 drivers have Road To Indy wins at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Six of the eight USF2000 winners have started from the pole, and the average starting position of the winner is 1.5.
- Aaron Telitz (Cape Motorsports) started Race #1 in 2015 on the outside of the second row. The worst starting spot of a USF2000 race winner at Barber Motorsports Park.
- The 2021 twin-bill will be the fifth doubleheader weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. RC Enerson (2014), Parker Thompson (2016), and Oliver Askew (2017) won both races of their doubleheaders.
- Cape Motorsports has won six of the eight USF2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park and is the only active team to score a win at the Alabama road course.
- The average finishing position for a USF2000 pole starter at Barber Motorsports Park is 3.0.
- In 2014, Nico Jamin (Cape Motorsports) started from the pole in Race #1 but finished a lap down in 14th, the lowest finish for an inside front row starter at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Cape Motorsports has won seven of the eight possible USF2000 poles at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Cape Motorsports leads all teams at Barber Motorsports Park with ten podiums as a team. Exclusive Autosport (1) and Pabst Racing (2) are the only other active teams with podiums.
USF2000 team podiums at Barber Motorsports Park
|RANK||TEAM||ALL PODIUMS||USF-17 PODIUMS|
|6||John Cummiskey Racing||1||–|
|8||Team E Racing||2||–|
- Cape Motorsports pilots Oliver Askew, Nico Jamin, Aaron Telitz, and Parker Thompson have combined to lead 97 laps at Barber Motorsports Park, the most of any USF2000 team.
- Only one (2016 Race #1) of the eight USF2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park has run caution-free.
- Two cautions (2015 Race #2) and five caution laps (2017 Race #2) lead those respective categories.
- Three of the eight USF2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park have had a first lap caution.
- The second race in 2015 had three caution periods that totaled seven laps, the high water mark for both of those.
- All eight USF2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park have finished under green flag conditions.
- Current Road To Indy TV host Parker Thompson finished 4.2 seconds ahead of Victor Franzoni in Race #1 in 2016, the most significant USF2000 margin of victory at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Race #1 in 2017 had the closest margin of victory when Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) beat Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey) to the checkered flag by 0.2273 seconds.