Dixon Takes First Win with NJMP Drive
Millville, NJ - Brandon Dixon scored his first ever F2000 Championship Series win with a flag-to-flag drive at NJMP from pole in the No. 5. After an exciting start and challenge into turn one, Dixon emerged in the lead, survived a late-race restart and scored the victory over a massive last-lap battle for second place that saw Trent Walko finish second and John McCusker third.
A fourth place finish sealed the title for Steve Bamford, who became the 2016 F2000 Champion with three races left on the schedule.
Dixon has enjoyed a strong season, marching forward with pace each weekend, and put a solid day together at New Jersey in the Citation Engineering car. Beyond the initial start, Dixon fought off Walko's Team Pelfrey Van Diemen/Mazda with a late braking move on a restart with three laps to go into turn one.
"It was a little bit of a challenge doing into turn one, but I managed to come out in front," said Dixon. "I managed to get a gap, but didn't appreciate the caution. But we had a decent restart off that and made it all work out."
Dixon noted it was a goal to win an F2000 race, and a four year process when he decided to build a F2000 car in 2012.
After the initial lap, Walko had fallen back to fourth behind McCusker in second and Tim Paul in third, but solidly worked his way forward through the race to make it back to second and be in a position to challenge for the win on the restart.
The second place finish is Walko's third straight in three starts thus far in the 2016 season.
"Today we qualified on the front, didn't get a great start and it led to some racing," said Walko. "It's good to get some racing in with a few battles."
After leading morning practice, McCusker cycled back and forth in the race, and was busy battling off Bamford on the run to the checkered flag to take third place for Dotworks Racing.
"I had a great time out there," said McCusker. "We lost rear grip during the race; hopefully we can make a comeback tomorrow."
In fourth, Bamford failed to finish on the podium for the first time since Watkins Glen, but it didn't matter as the points haul delivered Rice Race Prep and Bamford the 2016 F2000 Championship.
Paul, for Screaming Monkey Racing and Momentum Motorsports, moved into third position after the opening lap, and was involved in battle after battle, eventually coming home to complete the top five in his first start since Mid-Ohio in July.
Nick Palacio, in his first start of 2016, finished sixth in the yellow No. 25, while Steve Jenks was unable to repeat his third place finish at Pittsburgh, falling back to seventh ahead of Dave Weitzenhof, Robert Wright and Donald Betterly.