Jenks Leads Dixon in First F2000 Practice
Lexington, OH – The hissing sound of tire pressures being bled down combined with damper adjustments and wing changes were just a few of the agenda items taking place on a busy pit road during practice on Friday for the F2000 Championship Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Steve Jenks turned in the fastest lap for Tumenas Motorsports, cementing his place as fastest late in the morning session with a lap of 1:24.472 to lead Brandon Dixon and John LaRue as the top seven cars were covered by a slim eight tenths of a second.
The story at Mid-Ohio is in part about the weather, with skyrocketing temperatures expected throughout the weekend and somewhat limited cloud cover.
That will turn the already technically-challenging 13-turn road course into a bigger puzzle for teams and drivers alike, as the F2000 season hits its midpoint of the seven-weekend 2018 title chase. Eight drivers are within range of reaching the Championship lead by Sunday evening in what is unfolding to be one of the most competitive F2000 seasons ever.
As for points leader Jenks, a mid-session rear damper adjustment produced more speed for the No. 68 in the Buckeye state.
“The car feels good, I have a lot of laps around here, so we start out knowing the line,” Jenks said. “We’re working on grip and experimenting with a few things to get it to stick a little better. It wasn’t perfect in that session, so there is room for improvement. On this track, you traditionally lose grip in the afternoon, so you have to put more in. We’re also fighting a little bit of a push, so we’re trying a few things.”
Dixon, who sits third in points, landed in second on the morning time sheets by just under three tenths of a second, with his best time coming in his 17th flying lap of the all-green-flag session.
“If I really understood how this track changed, I would be better here,” said Dixon, who hails from Alabama and should be at home in the heat. “This place is especially hard to guess what the grip is going to be like. Making the tires last is going to be key. It’s going to be hot and you work them hard here. Making sure the balance is right and having the tires last the whole race could be worth something.”
Mid-Ohio expert John LaRue followed in third position in practice, with a fourth Masters Class driver, Robert Allaer, in fourth for Polestar. Tim Paul’s red and black R-Sport machine completed the top five.
Davis Durrett was sixth quick, seven tenths off the top time, and was followed by Simon Sikes, who occupies the second place spot in the points Championship.
“I’m hoping for a strong weekend at Mid-Ohio. With the gap to the Championship lead down to five points, I’d like to have a successful weekend and, hopefully, reclaim the points lead,” said Sikes, who hadn’t turned a lap at Mid-Ohio until Thursday evening. “It’s the halfway point in the season, and, with four weekends to go, I’m confident with how my team and I have performed so far. I’d like to continue the success and stay out of trouble this weekend, as consistent finishes have been the key so far in the title fight.”
F2000 drivers next hit the track for another practice session on Friday afternoon, following by morning qualifying on both Saturday and Sunday, and afternoon races both races.