La Rocca Edges Gooden for VIR Pole

April 14, 2012
La Rocca took his first pole. (photo: Dennis Valet)

Alton, VA –Robert La Rocca edged rookie Wyatt Gooden by four thousandths of a second in the closing stages of qualifying for race one at VIR to take his first career pole. The HP-Tech driver turned in a lap of 1:54.910 in the No. 10 Van Diemen, beating out Wyatt Gooden’s No. 6 Quantum Racing Services entry. The Radon of Fabio Orsolon will line up third ahead of Niki Coello’s RFR and Kyle Connery, also in a RFR.

“I’m hoping we’ll have a clean race,” said La Rocca, who scored his first F2000 podium at VIR last season. “I was only able to turn one clear lap in qualifying due to the amount of traffic.”

Thirty two cars turned in qualifying laps, and 34 are expected to take the green flag at 4:30 local time.

Orsolon will start third in the Radon’s best qualifying effort ever.

“It was good but not what we were expecting,” said the Brazilian. “The engine was cutting out at low revs late in the session.”

Niki Coello was an impressive fourth in the No. 81 RFR after engine problems during practice yesterday.

Coello’s team traced engine issues to a broken bolt that required the engine to come out, and worked late into the night along with Quicksilver, who builds most of the F2000 Zetec motors.

“This morning there wasn’t even an engine in the car and I didn’t know if we’d get out in qualifying,” said Coello.

Connery was fifth on the qualifying time sheets as his CC Autosport team with James Lee Racing continues to work out the kinks in their new RFR. Zach Craigo qualified sixth for Front Range after engine problems on Friday.

Tim Minor was the first of the Masters Class drivers in seventh, while Kevin Kopp, a 23 year old driving Minor’s Van Diemen from last season, was eighth ahead of John LaRue and Dave Weitzenhof.

Tim Paul was just outside the top ten in 11th, with Brent Gilkes, Nick Palacio, Tom Fatur and Jose Gerado following in positions 12 through 15.

Chris Livengood will line up 17th following mechanical issues with his RFR, while last year’s winner Nathan Morcom will have his work cut out from him following a gearbox failure, and will start 31st.

The weekend continues with race one, scheduled for 4:30 local time, live updates are available on www.F2000Series.com. Sunday features another qualifying session and round two of the 14-race, 2012 F2000 season.

Qualifying 1 Results:

Pos No. Name Best Tm Best Spd In Lap Diff Gap 1 10 Robert LaRocca 1:54.910 102.445 7 - - 2 6 Wyatt Gooden 1:54.914 102.442 8 +0.004 +0.004 3 77 Fabio Orsolon 1:55.463 101.955 8 +0.553 +0.549 4 81 Niki Coello 1:56.158 101.345 11 +1.248 +0.695 5 91 Kyle Connery 1:56.320 101.204 8 +1.410 +0.162 6 18 Zach Craigo 1:56.347 101.180 7 +1.437 +0.027 7 88 Tim Minor/M 1:56.441 101.098 8 +1.531 +0.094 8 66 Kevin Kopp 1:56.459 101.083 7 +1.549 +0.018 9 17 John LaRue/M 1:56.561 100.994 9 +1.651 +0.102 10 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 1:56.683 100.889 9 +1.773 +0.122 11 06 Tim Paul 1:56.806 100.782 9 +1.896 +0.123 12 7 Brent Gilkes/M 1:56.842 100.751 8 +1.932 +0.036 13 5 Nick Palacio 1:57.018 100.600 9 +2.108 +0.176 14 70 Tom Fatur/M 1:57.158 100.480 10 +2.248 +0.140 15 14 Jose Gerardo 1:57.454 100.226 9 +2.544 +0.296 16 72 Thomas Schwietz/M 1:57.484 100.201 9 +2.574 +0.030 17 37 Chris Livengood 1:57.512 100.177 2 +2.602 +0.028 18 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 1:57.865 99.877 6 +2.955 +0.353 19 52 Dean Baker/M 1:57.869 99.874 8 +2.959 +0.004 20 8 Mark Defer/M 1:57.964 99.793 9 +3.054 +0.095 21 73 Vaughn Horvath 1:58.406 99.421 10 +3.496 +0.442 22 51 Dan Denison/M 1:58.441 99.391 8 +3.531 +0.035 23 83 Charles Finelli/M 1:58.503 99.339 9 +3.593 +0.062 24 27 Craig Clawson/M 1:58.608 99.251 7 +3.698 +0.105 25 9 Jose Montiel 1:58.691 99.182 9 +3.781 +0.083 26 15 Aaron Pettipas 1:59.034 98.896 7 +4.124 +0.343 27 31 Brendan Puderbach 2:00.011 98.091 8 +5.101 +0.977 28 25 Jeff McCusker/M 2:00.099 98.019 5 +5.189 +0.088 29 19 John Brumder 2:00.141 97.985 10 +5.231 +0.042 30 59 Shaun Miller 2:00.339 97.824 7 +5.429 +0.198 31 11 Nathan Morcom 2:01.038 97.259 2 +6.128 +0.699 32 90 Robert Wright/M 2:01.095 97.213 3 +6.185 +0.057 33 2 Rob Allaer -.--- - 0 - - 34 42 Bill Jordan/M -.--- - 0 - -