New York, NY – Victor Carbone, with four wins in eight races, is enjoying an 80 point F2000 Championship lead for Alegra Motorsports over Cole Morgan, but Australian rookie Daniel Erickson may be the driver to watch heading into this weekend’s double-header with ALMS at Lime Rock Park.
Erickson, having just started four races this season, has two wins, three podiums, three poles and a track record at two tracks he had never seen. He recently swept Watkins Glen, winning both races, including a closing-stages battle with Carbone during the second race which saw the two up-and-coming drivers racing side by side during the last three laps for the win.
"Winning at Watkins Glen has given my confidence a boost, but Lime Rock Park will be without doubt my biggest challenge yet," Erickson said. "There has been a test day before official practice and qualifying at each of the rounds I’ve been to so far, but I won't have that luxury this time.”
Erickson is referring to the sole practice session for the massive 34-car entry list on Friday morning, giving way to two afternoon qualifying sessions and then two 35 lap or 30 minute races on Saturday.
Watkins Glen marked the first weekend of the season that Brazilian driver Victor Carbone didn’t go home with a first place trophy, having his pole lap taken away for the first race after bringing out a black flag during practice.
“We are coming off a solid, but not perfect weekend at the Glen due to the circumstances,” commented Carbone. “I was only able to do one practice but we were relatively fast. Lime Rock is such a unique track, and with the size of the F2000 field there may be a bit of a traffic problem. The Alegra guys are working really hard back at the shop as usual and I am doing the same so we’re feeling pretty optimistic.”
Then there’s Cole Morgan, sitting 80 points adrift from Carbone. The last time Morgan visited Lime Rock, the American stamped his name on the 2007 F2000 title. Morgan hopes to regain some ground on Carbone this coming weekend.
“The goal is to sweep the weekend,” Morgan said. “Victor can still be caught; it’s just a matter of capitalizing on any mistakes they make and not making any ourselves.”
Sitting 59 points back from Morgan is Masters Class veteran Tim Minor, who leads Phil Lombardi by a slim five point margin. Minor is coming off a podium at Watkins Glen and has been consistent all year. Both men won races outright in 2009.
Lombardi, meanwhile, is returning to his home track in an F2000 car for the first time since 2007.
“We should have as good of a chance as anybody,” said Lombardi. “One of the challenges will be the increased traffic with such a short and fast track. It’s going to be difficult to get a clean lap in qualifying.”
Back from a career highlighting weekend at Watkins Glen that saw a second place finish and a pole is rookie Chris Livengood, driving for Work Racing.
Livengood, who is contesting the season on a limited budget in an 11-year old stock Van Diemen chassis, added: “We showed strong pace at the Watkins Glen event but know we are facing an uphill battle. As we climb the grid, the competition becomes ever more difficult to eclipse. My preparation for the event has been triple what I have done for other events. This has included ample karting seat time, nearly 40 minutes a day, five days a week, and I am even working on getting on a friend’s video game system to run some laps there.”
The story lines don’t stop. Jonathan Scarallo is hoping to bounce back from two rough weekends in the R-Sport #22, having scored a second place at Road Atlanta in May. Lime Rock is Scarallo’s home track and the young American will have a contingent of supporters cheering him on.
Rob Nicholas has been fast in the #89 all year long and his Masters Class experience could play a factor in Connecticut.
Stevan McAleer will be making his third and fourth starts for The Race House team, nearly finishing third at Watkins Glen in his first career F2000 race.
“I want to win this weekend and think we can,” commented McAleer, from Scotland. “I feel I had a podium right there in front of me in my first ever race before I had issues with the car. I am more determined to do well this weekend.”
McAleer’s teammate, Tim Paul, in the SMR #06, will see his first familiar track of the season; the rookie is fresh out of the sprint car ranks but has plenty of laps around Lime Rock in a variety of cars.
The weekend gets underway at 10:00am (GMT -5) Friday morning with opening practice, followed by qualifying sessions at 1:30pm and 5:00pm. Saturday features both races, with start times scheduled for 10:30am and 5:15pm. Live updates will be available on F2000ChampionshipSeries.com and on Twitter @F2000.