F1600, F2000 and Atlantic Set for Watkins Glen
Salem, NH - The F1600, F2000 and Atlantic Championship Series are heading to the newly-paved Watkins Glen International this weekend for the second event of their 2016 seasons. A competitive Road Atlanta weekend opened the season in April, with veteran driver Steve Bamford leading both the F1600 and F2000 standings heading into the Watkins Glen event, while Ryan Norman is out front to an early points lead in Atlantic.
An ultra-racy weekend at Road Atlanta saw three different winners in F1600's triple-header format. K-Hill teammates Peter Portante and Neil Verhagen won rounds one and two while Swan Motorsports' Max Mallinen won the third race of the weekend on Sunday morning, but it was three podiums by Masters Class racer Steve Bamford that catapulted him to an early points lead.
The field will remain mostly the same for Watkins Glen, with all three race winners and Bamford expected to be competitive. Not a single driver entered for the weekend has triumphed at the 11-turn circuit.
Team Pelfrey's Phillippe Denes and Calvin Ming will certainly be in the hunt for their first victories, as well as Will Harvey and Ben Auriemma from Exclusive Autosport.
Team Pelfrey drivers from prior seasons hold both qualifying and race track records at Watkins Glen.
Additions to the field for the weekend include Masters Class drivers Daniel Pyanowski and Thomas Schwietz.
It was a weekend sweep for Rice Race Prep's Steve Bamford, who took two race victories at Road Atlanta to start the 2016 F2000 Championship Series season, marking the second and third wins of his F2000 career. The victories were hard fought, as the front of the F2000 field has dialed up its competitiveness in 2016.
Bamford enters the weekend as not only the points leader, but also being the only driver on the entry list to have a past win in F2000 pro competition at Watkins Glen.
The Saturday F2000 race at Watkins Glen will be run as the Glenn Phillips Memorial Classic, in memory of long-time F2000 team owner of GTP Motorsports Glenn Phillips. In addition, there will be a Saturday pole award including a $150 check from CellMark Paper and two tires from Hoosier Racing Tire.
Brandon Dixon sits second in the early-season point standings, with two races having been run at Road Atlanta, and rounds three and four of 14 scheduled for this weekend.
David Grant and John McCusker also ran well at Road Atlanta, and sit third and fourth in points, respectively, with Grant in a Spectrum chassis and McCusker in a Van Diemen. Both Bamford and Dixon race Citations.
Among returning drivers making their season debuts are Davy D'Addario, who won the Winter Exhibition event at Sebring, and Tim Paul, who took the pole position in his No. 06 CellMark Paper Racing Van Diemen at Watkins Glen last year.
Masters Class racers Scott Gesford and Mauro Fauza will make their first starts of 2016 at the Glen, and both drivers have considerable F2000 experience.
Atlantic newcomer, Ryan Norman, driving for K-Hill Motorsports, is off to an early points lead, having taken a single victory at Road Atlanta.
Reigning 2015 Atlantic Champion Keith Grant also took a race win in the season-opening weekend, but was sidelined with an engine failure in round one of the season.
As those two separated themselves from the rest of the Atlantic field at Road Atlanta, the trend is expected to continue at Watkins Glen, where Polestar's Grant finished second in 2015.
After an on-track battle for the Atlantic Challenge win at Road Atlanta, Bruce Hamilton and Bob Corliss are set to battle for class honors at Watkins Glen in their Swift 014/Toyotas. The category will grow in entries for the weekend with the additions of Mark Sherwood, in a Ralt RT-41 Toyota, and a pair of Swift 014/Toyotas for father-and-son pairing John and Connor Burke.
The entire Atlantic grid grows considerably for an anticipated Watkins Glen event, with Richard Zober and Lee Alexander back to partner with Corliss at Comprent Motorsports, along with teammate Chris Ash.
At Polestar, Grant will be joined by teammate Lewis Cooper, Jr.
K-Hill will again field a large portion of the grid, with points leader Norman joined by Kirk Kindsfater, Dudley Fleck and Johnpaul Ciancimino.
Follow weekend action online at www.F1600Series.com, www.F2000Series.com, and www.AtlanticChampionshipSeries.com.