Salem, NH – Formula Race Promotions (FRP) heads into its season finale at VIRginia International Raceway this weekend with four drivers eligible for the F1600 Formula F Championship Series title, which all comes down to this final triple-header weekend. With overall driver Championships already having been decided in F2000 and Atlantic, entrants will look to end the season with outright victories and build momentum for 2017.
Coming off two wins at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and a victory at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, Neil Verhagen leads the points standings for K-Hill Motorsports in the F1600 Championship. The 15-year-old will battle not only teammate Peter Portante, but two Team Pelfrey drivers – Calvin Ming and Phillippe Denes – in a quest for the 2016 F1600 title.
It’s been those four drivers in the storylines all season, essentially racing wheel to wheel with one another for 18 races thus far in 2016. It all comes down to three races over three days in Virginia, with Verhagen managing a slim 67-point lead over Portante with 165 points on offer. Without factoring in two drops – with FRP rules stating a driver’s lowest two points finishes are not counted – Verhagen leads Team Pelfrey’s Denes by just 46 points.
New Jersey closed out the month of August for F1600, with Calvin Ming winning race one by .001 seconds, and Verhagen races two and three by .063 seconds and .011 seconds, respectively.
Winding the clock back to VIR’s triple-header F1600 weekend in June, it was more of the same story, with a long front straight promoting last second moves in Virginia. It was Verhagen that won at VIR in race one, by .045 seconds, with races two and three also coming down to the wire with both of those margins of victories reported at .025 seconds.
Portante will need to rebound from his June performance, where he only managed two fifth place finishes. Denes scored a pair of second place trophies, while Ming finished fourth, third and fifth, respectively.
Team Pelfrey’s Kaylen Frederick could play spoiler, as the partial-season driver won at Pittsburgh in August and will now visit the 17-turn VIR for the second time. Frederick will also see double-duty, racing for Team Pelfrey in the F2000 Championship Series. There is also a third car from K-Hill for driver Hans Ada, who continues to pick up speed in his first season of road-racing and has joined the lead group of cars in recent races.
The Masters class will see Mike Scanlan go up against Lewis Cooper Jr. and Bob Perona.
Rounds 13 and 14 of the F2000 Championship Series are up for grabs at VIR with an entry list of drivers all looking for their first victory in F2000 competition. 2016 Champion Steve Bamford has a business commitment and will not make the race, while New Jersey winners Brandon Dixon and Trent Walko are also sidelined.
John McCusker and Dotworks Racing are looking to cap a strong season with a pair of victories in the No. 01 Van Diemen, and are coming off a podium showing in New Jersey.
Bob Reid and R-Sport had their best showing of the season at VIR in June, with Reid scoring two fourth place finishes. He now looks to move one more spot up the grid and make his debut on the F2000 podium. Joining him in a second car at R-Sport will be former Masters Class title-winner Tom Fatur.
Back for the first time since Mid-Ohio, Jenna Grillo will strap into the No. 15 K-Hill Motorsports Van Diemen. Grillo, running a part-time season, has gained speed each time she has been on track.
Peter Gonzalez, Paul Farmer and Robert Wright will field a trio of Radon chassis at VIR in the season finale weekend, with Wright returning to a Radon/Zetec after driving a Team Pelfrey Mazda/Van Diemen at New Jersey.
As for Team Pelfrey, the Florida-based squad will field a Mazda/Van Diemen for Kaylen Frederick, who will make his F2000 debut in the No. 81 Pilot One machine.
Nick Palacio will look to improve on his two sixth place finishes in New Jersey in the No. 25 Van Diemen to conclude the season. In addition, Dave Weitzenhof will bring his skill set to VIR in the No. 67 Citation chassis along with Chris Gumprecht in the No. 97 RFR.
Ryan Norman will look to cap his title-winning Atlantic Championship Series season in the No. 48 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016/Mazda. Norman not only clinched the Championship at New Jersey in August, but dominated the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in September at Mid-Ohio.
It won’t be a walk in the park for Norman, however, as David and Keith Grant from Polestar Racing Group look for top honors at the challenging VIR course. David Grant is coming off a win at New Jersey and has made multiple trips to victory lane since re-joining the Atlantic Series at VIR in June. Keith, meanwhile, has a single victory on the year and looks to finish strong.
Also making Atlantic starts this weekend will be Dudley Fleck, Richard Zober and Lewis Cooper Jr.
Attention will be on the Atlantic Challenge, where a season long fight between Bob Corliss and Bruce Hamilton will come down to the final races for the Challenge title. Corliss comes into the weekend with an 11-point lead on Hamilton in the standings, with 110 points up for grabs.
Action gets going on Friday morning from VIRginia International Raceway.