Formula Race Promotions PittRace Preview
Salem, NH – After a month-long break, the F1600, F2000 and Atlantic Championship Series are back at the challenging Pittsburgh International Race Complex. It is Formula Race Promotions’ fourth visit to Pittsburgh, and the third event on the new and updated long course. Phillippe Denes, Steve Bamford and Ryan Norman hope to hold onto their Championship leads in F1600, F2000 and Atlantic, respectively.
Mid-Ohio marked a weekend of consistency for Team Pelfrey’s Phillippe Denes to start off the month of July, who holds a narrow points lead over K-Hill teammates Neil Verhagen and Peter Portante, who both took home first-place trophies at Mid-Ohio. Now the paddock looks toward three races this weekend at the high-speed and tough Pittsburgh course.
While Calvin Ming also won at Mid-Ohio, he sits fifth in the Championship, with Masters Class veteran Steve Bamford sandwiching Ming and Portante, but the driver of the No. 07 Rice Race Prep entry is still hunting for his first F1600 win of the season.
A number of other drivers look to challenge for top honors, including Hans Ada from K-Hill and Kaylen Frederick from Team Pelfrey, both of whom hope to make their first trips to the top step of the podium. Max Mallinen, meanwhile, looks to re-gain the form that saw him win at Road Atlanta in April for Swan Motorsports.
Back after a short hiatus, Bjerke Motorsports drivers Ryan Bjerke and Dexter Czuba are entered for the triple-header weekend, while Rob Albani and Tom Schwietz make their first starts of the season, and Mike Scanlan returns after missing Mid-Ohio.
At the top of the F2000 Championship Series standings, Steve Bamford has held down a season-long points lead in the No. 07 machine, but will face returning challengers and new wrinkles in the F2000 grid at Pittsburgh.
Among those are John McCusker in the No. 01 Dotworks Racing Van Diemen, as well as the 2016 debut of Trent Walko, driving a Van Diemen/Mazda for Team Pelfrey. Walko is from Trafford, Pennsylvania, and it will be a home race for the college student after strong runs at Pittsburgh in 2015.
Brandon Dixon was another driver who made strides at Pittsburgh in 2015, and the Alabama-native comes into the weekend after a podium performance at Mid-Ohio in July in the No. 5 Citation.
In addition, Devin Lesuer and Connor Gawry are both back for another double-header F2000 weekend and Winter Exhibition winner Davy D’addario makes his first F2000 appearance since Watkins Glen in May.
It’s also a home race for the R-Sport team, which will field two cars, with former Masters Class Champion Tom Fatur in the No. 70 and Bob Reid in the No. 12.
Dan Denison makes his first start since Road Atlanta in the No. 51 from Polestar Racing Group. In addition, Masters Class aces Steve Jenks and Dave Weitzenhof have been fast all season and are expected to be in contention at the 18-turn track.
As well, Peter Gonzalez, Robert Wright and Chris Gumprecht are set to do battle at Pittsburgh, which marks rounds nine and 10 of the 2016 season.
K-Hill Motorsports driver Ryan Norman saw a strong win streak brought to an end on Saturday at Mid-Ohio as David Grant took the lead at the start of the race and never looked back. A day later, however, Norman returned to his Championship-leading form with a charging win in round eight of the season to extend his points lead.
Norman will look to sweep the Pittsburgh weekend, but after a mid-season switch from F2000 to Atlantic, Polestar’s Grant is moving toward the front of the grid. The No. 40 entry for Keith Grant, the 2015 Atlantic Champion, scored two podiums at Mid-Ohio and sits second in points to Norman.
Also competing in the Championship class for Swift 016/Mazdas at Mid-Ohio are K-Hill drivers Kirk Kindsfater and Theodoros Zorbas. Comprent Motorsports will enter Lee Alexander, Richard Zober and Chris Ash, with Alexander returning to Series competition after missing the Mid-Ohio rounds.
The Atlantic Challenge category will see its entry list expand for the weekend, with rivals Bruce Hamilton and Bob Corliss being joined by father-and-son pairing John and Connor Burke. All drivers will compete in Swift 014/Toyota entries in the Challenge class.