Parker Thompson continued second half surge with dominant race win
LEXINGTON, OHIO (July 29, 2017) – Exclusive Autosport is riding the wave of momentum from their successful weekend in Toronto just two weeks ago, where they won their first races in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Canadian Parker Thompson showed his tremendous skills in the sweep of the event, and he was ready to take on the next challenge when he arrived at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last Thursday. Thompson paced the opening practice session and would eventually post a pair of podium finishes, as a strong second in Race 1 on Friday was followed by a dominant race win on Saturday. The results have cemented his third-place position in the championship standings. Thompson’s teammates Dev Gore and Jayson Clunie both enjoyed strong outings as well, advancing forward in both races. Gore logged his second top-10 of the year in Race 1 while Clunie finished both races in the top-15, turning his fastest laps of the weekend in the second race. The team’s trio of drivers all advanced from their starting position in both races, with the successful exception of Thompson’s Race 2 win from the pole. It was Exclusive Autosports’ finest overall outing of the season.
“It was another strong weekend for my Exclusive Autosport team. I can’t say enough about my amazing crew, our drivers, their parents and our sponsors,” offered Michael Duncalfe, team owner, commending his entire operation. “This is truly a team effort and everyone has been continuing to up their game and it’s showing. Parker once again showed what an incredible talent he is and also how quick the Exclusive Autosport USF2000 cars are. Qualifying nearly seven-tenths ahead of the field and coming away with another win and a second – which makes it three wins and four podiums in the last 4 races – is awesome.”
Thompson led the USF2000 time sheets in the one and only official practice of the weekend, using his track experience to fully leverage the car set-up provided by the Exclusive Autosport engineering staff. Gore and Clunie were setting their own baselines, preparing for a weekend of constant improvement. Qualifying for Race 1 on Friday morning was a mess, halted on several occasions for drivers going off-course. The track was damp and extremely slick. Thompson ended the run in fourth overall, but a penalty on Rinus VeeKay moved him to the inside of row two for the start of the opening race of the doubleheader. Both Gore and Clunie improved their positions from practice, slotting in 16th and 17th.
The opening lap of Race 1 was hard-fought, as Thompson took control of third ahead of an aggressive VeeKay. Parker then went to work on Lucas Kohl for second, taking the position quickly after reaching his gearbox on lap three. Over the remainder of the run, he continued to push Askew through to a late-race caution, and then just wasn’t able to muster up enough front grip to get past the leader on the restart. Despite battling with aero push in his advances for the lead, Parker brought home an impressive second place finish. Gore was on the move throughout the race, advancing at the start to begin picking off positions. He also displayed calculated aggression during the restart to move further ahead. The rookie driver moved up eight positions to finish 10th in the final tally. Clunie also enjoyed a strong run, as the Canadian ran clean through the entire race while others were losing their cool. The final result was a 15th place finish, and improved pace from qualifying.
The second race of the weekend was all Parker Thompson. The team had saved a set of sticker Cooper tires for the race, and after qualifying on pole, the Red Deer, Alberta phenom managed the race lead through a lap 16 restart to score a 1.171-second lead. Parker took all 33 of the available points by sweeping the action, qualifying on pole, leading all the laps, and turning the fast lap in the process. The remainder of the driver squad was on their respective games as well. Gore made impressive advances at the start, and the restart as well, and would have finished even better than the 12th he recorded had he not run over debris that damaged the performance of his right rear. Clunie’s speed development continued throughout the entire weekend, as he turned his fastest laps of the weekend in Race 2 on his way to a 15th place finish.
“Dev has done an unbelievable job making the transition from karts to cars this year,” Duncalfe added. “Not only has he had to learn and adapt to the new Tatuus USF-17, he has also had to learn eight new tracks along the way. Dev has a strong work ethic both on and off the track, which has allowed him to make major strides in his development every weekend and his results are reflecting that. Due to Jayson’s commitments off track as a business owner, he hasn’t had the time to test with us throughout the season. However, he works hard with our engineering staff throughout the race weekend and continues to showcase his raw talent in challenging for top-10’s the past two weekends. His on-track performance improves session after session with him posting his fastest times of the weekend towards the end of Race 2.”
The season finale for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is now a month away, set for Labor Day weekend (September 1-3) at Watkins Glen International in New York. Thompson has secured the third position in the point standings, so he and the team will be aiming to make yet another statement by capping the season with a win, which would be their fourth victory in the last five races.
Exclusive Autosport is pleased to be able to partner with great companies, such as AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology (www.rethinkpaint.com), which is used on all their race cars.
DRIVER PERFORMANCE / QUOTES
COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA
EVENT #7 – JULY 27-29, 2017
MID-OHIO INDY – LEXINGTON, OH
PARKER THOMPSON – USF2000 #90
Qualifying 1: 4th – 1:25.115
Qualifying 2: 1st – 1:22.611
Race 1: Start – 3rd / Finish – 2nd
Race 2: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st
Driver Quote: “”There’s no better feeling in motorsports than coming to the checkered flag with your whole team on the pit wall celebrating with you! It’s a term not used much in racing, but for Race 2, I had the ‘perfect racecar’. It felt great to showcase to the field what Exclusive Autosport and I are capable of. We were pole by seven tenths of a second, and delivered a dominant race victory. All the blood, sweat and tears every member of this team has given was demonstrated by this weekend’s performance. I couldn’t be prouder of the #90 Openhwy team in Ohio.”
DEV GORE – USF2000 #92
Qualifying 1: 16th – 1:27.670
Qualifying 2: 19th – 1:26.625
Race 1: Start – 16th / Finish – 10th
Race 2: Start – 18th / Finish – 12th
Driver Quote: “This weekend was a positive one, as the team seems to have hit a stride and sorted out the issues with the cars. It was the first time this year that I was able to really race and show what we could do and although we didn’t make it as high up on the running order as I would have liked, I feel that we did a good job given the starting positions of the races and the difficulty of passing around Mid-Ohio. I had two of my weaker qualifying performances this year and I apologize to the team for that, but would like to thank them for the hard work on giving us a great car to race with.”
JAYSON CLUNIE – USF2000 #93
Qualifying 1: 17th – 1:28.491
Qualifying 2: 19th – 1:27.069
Race 1: Start – 17th / Finish – 14th
Race 2: Start – 19th / Finish – 15th
Driver Quote: “The weekend started out really good, and having a bit more track time than Toronto was great. I was pretty quick off the trailer, but we were looking for a bit more and ended up making the car a bit nervous. Q1 was real slick. It was shortened by cars going off and I only ended up with about four quick laps. I was still pretty happy where we started R1, which was good fun. I raced hard and clean with my fellow competitors and came home with a pretty strong 14th place finish. In Q2, I just struggled with the session. The second race of the weekend was good fun again and had some good racing. The restart went well and I was picking up spots, but contact in Turn 4 near the end of the race put me off track, but I was able to return to the track and continue. All in all, Mid-Ohio was challenging but rewarding. I set my quick laps of the weekend late in Race 2, so again I continued to improve right until the end. Mid-Ohio has been, and still is, my favourite track!!! Thanks Michael, Kimberly, my teammates Dev and Parker, as well as the entire crew for a great weekend. Congrats to them and Parker for another win!”
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