Lexington, OH - News and notes from the paddock at Mid-Ohio during the fourth Formula Race Promotions event of the 2016 season.
The morning session opened on a wet track and slick Mid-Ohio, with select drivers heading out to get some further familiarity with the challenging circuit. Lap times and running times were limited as the skies opened mid-way through the session.
Rubenzer Back in F1600 Pro
After a two year hiatus, Scott Rubenzer is back in F1600 Championship Series competition as the former National Champion will race the No. 31 Spectrum/Honda at Mid-Ohio.
“As far as this weekend I hope to be competitive, and even more important have a good time doing it,” said Rubenzer. “ I just retired this year and now have more time than I have ever had for car preparation so that helps my cause but there are a bunch of very skilled and talented competitors running the F1600 series so nothing comes easy.”
Building on VIR for Frederick
Kaylen Frederick made his presence know at Palm Beach and Sebring in February and joined Team Pelfrey starting at VIR for the remainder of the season.
“My expectations at Mid-Ohio are to build on experience and momentum from the VIR races,” said Frederick. “Having led a race at VIR and running as high as third in both other races, my plan is to drive forward at Mid-Ohio and stay there. I’ll work closely with my Team Pelfrey teammates in practices to find the fast lap and set-up. From there, I’m going to drive smoothly and consistently, and the speed will come by itself.”
A great run in race three at VIR was hindered with last-lap drama, demoting Frederick from the front group to a tenth place finish.
“The biggest challenge I face is to find patience,” he said. “As a driver I work to be patient to go fast. For example, making a move or staying in the draft can make the difference between going forward or backward. You have to be patient and plan going forward. I’m looking forward to great racing at Mid-Ohio with many talented F1600 drivers in this series. Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing that green flag in three races, and 30 minutes of wheel-to-wheel action.”
Mallinen Gravel Visit
The morning saw the session come to an early stop when Max Mallinen found the gravel coming onto the front straight in grip-less conditions. Mallinen narrowly kept his No. 10 Swan Motorsports Spectrum/Honda out of harm but needed a tow out of the gravel from the Mid-Ohio safety team.
Ming In Gravel
Calvin Ming was another driver that found the slick conditions on Friday morning by surprise, ending the session stuck in Mid-Ohio's trademark "China beach."
Team Pelfrey’s Ming finds himself in the thick of the Championship find heading into the weekend at a track that seen historically close F1600 racing.
“I just have to focus and make sure I can put down some fast laps. But I do hope I can get another finish at the top step of the podium this weekend,” Ming said. “Mid-Ohio is a new track, I’ve never been there so I will have to make good use of the practice time. Also another challenge for me is getting back adjusted to the F1600 after recently racing in other winged formula cars and in karting.”
Ming said F1600 has always been about close, competitive racing.
“I can't wait to be neck and neck against the competition again as it gets your adrenaline going,” he added.
Series Debut for Bartz
SCCA Majors and Runoffs contender Jeffrey Bartz is another driver making his Series debut at Mid-Ohio.
"I would like to run high up this weekend, but I don't have too high of expectations as I do not have a lot of time on the radials and am still getting the set up figured out for them," said Bartz. "We did a massive rebuild over the winter and I have only had one weekend in the car so far this year, which was a couple of weeks ago at the June Sprints. The car is completely different than what I raced the past two years and also running radials instead of the old bias ply tires this year makes the car feel quite a bit different.
I am looking most forward to the racing, I have watched some F1600 races before and the racing looks fantastic. It will be a great weekend, hopefully with tight racing throughout the field. I also look forward to seeing where I will stack up against the field as it will be a huge result for us to be able to run up front, as it will be only my second time at Mid Ohio," Bartz continued.
Race to Repair for Pyanowski
F1600 Masters Class driver Dan Pyanowski planned on using Friday practice to work on his car, and will be on the track in anger on Saturday morning for qualifying.
“I have been traveling for work the past three weeks, so my biggest challenge for the weekend is to arrive home Thursday evening and put a new transmission input shaft into the car on Friday and plan to make it by Saturday for qualifying,” he said. “Due to work, I could not make it to VIR, so I ran the Majors at Mid-Ohio that weekend, but launched over Wes Allen’s car. I was so high that my left-rear wheel left a tire mark on his helmet. When I came down, it must have bent the input shaft.”