F2000 Mid-Ohio Preview
Sharon, CT – With just six races to go and seven wins in eight races so far, Robert La Rocca can mathematically clinch the 2012 F2000 Championship this weekend, although it will take another dominating performance mixed with a bit of luck. The HP-Tech driver has been the class of the field in 2012, and has a runaway points lead ahead of what is becoming a tight battle for second, led by Wyatt Gooden.
La Rocca, meanwhile, comes to Mid-Ohio off a sweep at New Jersey, winning both races. Last year, in Ohio, the Venezuelan finished fourth and third in a decent outing in the RFR chassis. This year, La Rocca will unload the No. 10 Van Diemen, looking for more wins.
Another sweep will tie La Rocca for most wins with Indy Lights driver and current F1600 driver coach Anders Krohn, who won nine races en route to the 2008 title. Victor Carbone, also in Indy Lights, won five races in 2010, versus Kyle Connery, who didn’t win the Championship but took home six first places over the course of 2011.
“This weekend, it’s the same plan as always. I need to stay focused and concentrate on each session,” La Rocca said. “There are still three weekends and six races left. I’ll think about the Championship later.”
Sitting 149 points back is Wyatt Gooden, who stole a race win at Lime Rock when La Rocca had issues with lapped traffic.
Gooden is in his rookie campaign for Quantum Racing Services, and swept both races at Mid-Ohio last summer in the F1600 Series.
“Quantum and I are looking forward to putting in a good showing at Mid Ohio,” Gooden said. “This place has been good to me in the past, so with the support of some local Cleveland businesses this weekend I'll be looking to bring home a win or two for the team in the No. 6 Van Diemen.”
Behind Gooden, however, the points tighten up, with just 24 points separating Gooden, Tim Minor, Niki Coello, Kevin Kopp and Tim Paul.
Minor has taken home a stack of Masters Class wins in 2012, but has not been able to get around La Rocca, yet.
“We are still making changes to the Citation chassis,” said Minor. “It has been a lot of work trying to sort out a new car with my driving style.”
Coello, the first RFR, sits fourth in points after failing to finish in one race each at Lime Rock and New Jersey - running into some back luck, while rookie Kopp is only one point behind in the WISKO F2000 Van Diemen.
Tim Paul is just three points back from those two, having put together eight straight top-eight finishes for GTP and SMR Motorsports.
An expected large grid at Mid-Ohio will see HP-Tech add a third car for Cesar LaPoint, in addition to an expanded effort from John Walko Racing, with rookie Joey Selmants driving the Van Diemen chassis Chris Livengood won at Mid-Ohio with in 2010 and 2011.
Livengood is seventh in points, enduring a quiet season in a new RFR chassis, and hopes to return to victory lane at Mid-Ohio.
After missing New Jersey, Kyle Connery is expected back for the weekend and looks to make things interesting at the front of the grid, having nearly won the last time the paddock saw him at Lime Rock in May. Connery, however, will be back to the RFR chassis after two weekends in the Van Diemen.
Mid-Ohio gets underway with twilight testing on Thursday night, July 26. The shared weekend with the F1600 Championship Series officially begins with timed practice on Friday at 8:40 and 1:05 eastern time. Saturday follows with qualifying at 8:40 and race one of the weekend at 1:15. Sunday concludes the event with 8:40 qualifying and a 12:50 18-lap or 30-minute race. Updates and live audio for qualifying and races will be available on www.F2000Series.com.