La Rocca Takes Summit Point Victory, Inches Closer to Title

August 26, 2012
La Rocca fought hard and then took off for the win. (photo: Valet)

Summit Point, WV – Robert La Rocca had to find his way around Kevin Kopp for the race lead at Summit Point Motorsports Park, but made the pass stick and then pulled away for his ninth F2000 Championship Series win in 11 races in 2012. Wyatt Gooden held on to finish second, denying La Rocca a Championship-clinching day, with Kopp rounding out the top three.

Not only did La Rocca have to go the long way around Kopp – who took the lead on a three wide, on the outside-style move into turn one, but he fended off a hard-charging No. 6 of Gooden as the two ran what was a faster-than-qualifying-pace as the race developed, trading fast laps back and forth as rain loomed in the distance.

For La Rocca, his ninth win of the year ties a previous Series record, and should gift him the 2012 title at the end of Sunday, when round 12 of 14 is complete in the seven-weekend season with one doubleheader remaining at Watkins Glen International in October.

“That start and opening lap was crazy, I’m still not sure what happened,” said La Rocca. “I got by Kopp into turn one and then just put my head down and tried to run a qualifying pace.”

The Venezuelan HP-Tech Motorsport driver, in his second F2000 season, also set fastest lap of the race, as the track cooled and rain clouds moved in, at a record-shattering 1:10.397.

That time also hands La Rocca the pole for Sunday’s race, and another three points, as the race two grid will be based upon race one fast laps.

Gooden, who won the most recent race at Mid-Ohio, started from pole and looked strong early, but after the leaders shuffled a few times, he was left having to track down La Rocca’s No. 10 , never quite getting close enough.

“Kopp made a terrific pass on the outside, but I wasn’t going to do anything dumb,” said Gooden, driving for Quantum Racing Services in a Van Diemen “Robert was quick today and the conditions were a bit different than yesterday. However, the tires are good for tomorrow’s race and we are fast.”

Kopp, meanwhile, marks his second third place effort of the year in his home race for the WISKO F2000 team. Perhaps the best move of the season happened on the second lap, when Kopp drove around the outside of both La Rocca and Gooden in turn one, taking the lead for a lap.

“That was a fun pass in turn one,” said Kopp, describing his three-wide move. “I got a great shot off of turn 10, La Rocca pulled out on Gooden and I went high. There was more grip than I thought there was going to be and I made it stick. La Rocca did get by me and then I was holding Gooden off but he got around. Tomorrow the car should be fast, but the question is for how long.”

Kopp’s WISKO F2000 team hosted a paddock party following the race for the F2000 community, catering dinner, with drinks on hand, including a local craft beer that sponsors the team, Lost Rhino.

Completing the top five were Zach Craigo, in one of his best runs of the year for Front Range Motorsports, and Niki Coello, the first of the non-Van Diemen cars in a RFR chassis.

Kyle Connery came home sixth after challenging for third, but spinning in turn five with a handful of laps to go.

Tim Minor won the Masters Class at his home track with a seventh place effort in the Citation chassis for Ski Motorsports.

Chris Livengood followed in eighth, with Danyel Torres in the No 39 WISKO F2000 entry in ninth in his F2000 debut. Nick Palacio rounded out the top ten.

The WISKO Best Start Award went to both Niki Coello and Dave Weitzenhof, who improved the most positions, three each, on the opening lap.

CellMark Paper Hard Charger honors were given to Keith McCrone, who improved the most positions during the race, finishing 14th after starting 19th in the new Metrik F2000 chassis from R-Sport.

The F2000 Championship Series continues on Sunday with round 12 at Summit Point, with an 8:10am warmup followed by a 5pm race start, live updates and audio are available on www.f2000series.com.

Race Results

Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Gap Avg. Speed Best Tm Best Spd In Lap 1 10 Robert LaRocca 20 23:52.862 - - 100.498 1:10.397 102.277 12 2 6 Wyatt Gooden 20 23:55.185 +2.323 +2.323 100.335 1:10.563 102.036 12 3 66 Kevin Kopp 20 24:06.918 +14.056 +11.733 99.522 1:11.374 100.877 14 4 18 Zach Craigo 20 24:08.132 +15.270 +1.214 99.438 1:11.267 101.029 17 5 81 Niki Coello 20 24:08.951 +16.089 +0.819 99.382 1:11.237 101.071 15 6 91 Kyle Connery 20 24:17.297 +24.435 +8.346 98.813 1:10.941 101.493 9 7 88 Tim Minor/M 20 24:18.660 +25.798 +1.363 98.721 1:11.266 101.030 15 8 37 Chris Livengood 20 24:20.491 +27.629 +1.831 98.597 1:11.477 100.732 9 9 39 Danyel Torres 20 24:20.706 +27.844 +0.215 98.582 1:11.969 100.043 9 10 5 Nick Palacio 20 24:30.901 +38.039 +10.195 97.899 1:12.127 99.824 15 11 06 Tim Paul 20 24:42.143 +49.281 +11.242 97.157 1:11.866 100.186 7 12 22 Gustavo Rizzo 20 24:42.949 +50.087 +0.806 97.104 1:11.840 100.223 15 13 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 20 24:46.125 +53.263 +3.176 96.896 1:13.001 98.629 16 14 0 Keith McCrone/M 20 24:46.500 +53.638 +0.375 96.872 1:12.709 99.025 13 15 33 Cesar Lapoint 20 24:49.157 +56.295 +2.657 96.699 1:11.354 100.905 10 16 27 Craig Clawson/M 20 24:53.980 +1:01.118 +4.823 96.387 1:13.083 98.518 13 17 90 Robert Wright/M 20 24:54.281 +1:01.419 +0.301 96.367 1:13.071 98.534 18 18 9 Jose Montiel 20 24:54.857 +1:01.995 +0.576 96.330 1:13.147 98.432 11 19 42 Bill Jordan/M 20 24:57.029 +1:04.167 +2.172 96.191 1:13.238 98.310 19 20 25 Jeff McCusker/M 19 23:57.452 1 Lap 1 Lap 95.168 1:14.424 96.743 16 21 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 19 24:04.525 +7.073 +7.073 94.702 1:14.600 96.515 7 22 83 Charles Finelli/M 18 24:14.185 2 Laps 1 Lap 89.122 1:17.055 93.440 7 23 19 John Brumder/M 16 19:53.872 4 Laps 2 Laps 96.493 1:13.031 98.588 15 24 51 Dan Denison/M 16 20:03.322 +9.450 +9.450 95.735 1:13.422 98.063 13