Lexington, OH – Sam Chastain pushed forward in his No. 30 F2000 Championship Series Chastain Motorsports Van Diemen during round seven of the F2000 Series on Saturday afternoon at Mid-Ohio to claim his debut podium in the Championship. On the opposite side of the team, a three-car F1600 effort was headed by Kyle Kirkwood with a pair of top 10 finishes.
For Chastain's racy third-place drive, it came from seventh on the grid as he moved forward over the course of 19 laps. The Indiana native got the better of the second group of cars, and once he moved ahead of Austin McCusker, was able to gap him by four seconds in the run to the checkered flag to score his first piece of trophy hardware in F2000.
“Steve (Bamford) and Austin (McCusker) definitely made me work for it,” said Chastain. “Once we got past them we could show the pace we had.”
Building on his result, and more laps in the F2000 car, Chastain put his Van Diemen into the 1:23-second club at Mid-Ohio for Sunday morning qualifying, with a blazing lap at 1:23.833, good enough for fourth on the grid.
With the green flag in the air over Mid-Ohio’s backstretch, Chastain challenged aggressively, making it three wide with John LaRue and Sam Beasley going for the lead into the first corner. The move wouldn’t work, though, with LaRue and Chastain ending up in the gravel, and Chastain unable to continue with minor damage to his No. 30 car.
On the F1600 side of the operation, a rough VIR weekend was in the mirrors for Chastain Motorsports, with the team rebounding for solid track time and top ten results for both Kirkwood and Will Harvey at Mid-Ohio, while Andy Lewis continued to improve in his first full season in F1600.
Kirkwood's pair of top tens were highlighted by a drive to seventh in a competitive lead pack to end the weekend in the third of three races on Sunday afternoon - and marked his first time back in a F1600 Mygale/Honda since storming to a win at the season opener at Road Atlanta in April.
Harvey also had a weekend to bounce back off a rough VIR, climbing to a top ten finish, also in race three, and a near race-long fight in the second grouping of cars.
Andy Lewis came away from the weekend with a 13th place result on Sunday afternoon, meaning all three drivers scored their best finishes in the final race of the weekend – highlighting a solid improvement curve at the tricky Mid-Ohio road course.
Mid-Ohio will lead into the final three weekends of the season, with two stops at Pittsburgh International Race Complex and one at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Pittsburgh will debut a brand-new road course this month ahead of the F1600 and F2000 weekend, July 31-August 2. The new track is high-speed and three miles long, with multiple long straights and numerous overtaking spots.