Liberty Motorsports WGI Recap
Liberty Motorsports continued its run of form in the F2000 Championship Series over Independence Day weekend (July 3-4), adding another podium finish to its resume in Rounds Seven and Eight at Watkins Glen International. Cole Morgan led the Illinois-based team charge, finishing fourth and third in the doubleheader, while Bobby Caldwell added valuable points via 13th and ninth place finishes. Zach Craigo meanwhile rebounded from a pair of difficult qualifying runs to finish 21st and 22nd in the two races.
As part of the prestigious IndyCar Series event in upstate New York, the Liberty Motorsports trio of Morgan, Caldwell and Craigo got their first opportunity to begin working on car setups for the high-speed Watkins Glen road course during Thursday testing. While grip levels were less than ideal due to the high temperatures, all three racers ended the day pleased with the progress made, and looking forward to an extremely busy day two of action.
Due to time constraints later in the event, Friday featured a rare schedule of two practice sessions, almost immediately followed by two qualifying runs to set the grids for Rounds Seven and Eight. With limited time between sessions, the goal was to continually make all Liberty Motorsports cars better each time out and avoid any trouble.
Driving the No. 1 Silicon Salvage/Triad Magnetics/Liberty Motorsports entry, Morgan was unfortunately unable to do either. While the former series champion was among the top-10 in all four sessions, a crash in the final practice session forced the Liberty Motorsports crew to work overtime prior to qualifying. While able to take part in both qualifying sessions thanks to some superb quick repairs, Morgan fought the handling of his car, eventually posting the seventh and ninth quickest times. Caldwell managed to keep his nose clean in all four runs, but he too was unable to get the most from his No. 80 Liberty Motorsports entry, securing 13th and 12th on the grid for the two races. Finally, Craigo struggled to find pace due to engine issues in his No. 85 Rocky Mountain Medical Lasers Inc./Strahan Colorado Whiskey/Liberty Motorsports car, ending qualifying a disappointing 29th and 31st.
When the Liberty Motorsports drivers returned to their cockpits one day later for race one of the doubleheader, all three were confident they could charge to the front, having spent the evening going over data and making changes with the talented Liberty Motorsports crew. When the green flag waved, that is exactly what two of the three did. Leading the team charge, Morgan rapidly advanced into the top-five. Eventually posting the fastest lap of the race – setting a new series lap record in the process - the Floridian narrowly missed his third consecutive podium finish with the team, crossing the stripe in fourth. Craigo, while a good deal further back, enjoyed a similar run forward during the 14-lap race. Showing good racecraft in only his second event of the season, the Colorado native advanced eight places by the time checkered flag waved on him in 21st. Caldwell might not have worked his way substantially forward, as initially planned in Round Seven, but that is not to say he did have a strong run. Involved in a multi-car fight for position lap after and lap, the Indiana racer moved up one spot at the stripe, taking home a 12th place finish.
Given how they had performed in the opening race at the Glen, more of the same was expected from the Liberty Motorsports trio when the green flag waved for Round Eight on Sunday morning prior to the IndyCar Series race. In what was an entertaining affair, all three racers did not disappoint. Morgan, making the most of a great getaway, worked his way into the lead pack early on, where he showed great speed and skill. The end result was a third place result, giving Liberty Motorsports a third podium finish in four series races. Battling for positions right from the waving of the green flag, Caldwell likewise worked his way forward as the 14-lap progressed. The series veteran, showing a good mixture of patience and aggression, overcame the very hot conditions, to score yet another top-10 result via an ninth place result. Not to be out done, Craigo was one of the drivers to keep an eye on throughout the race. Rebounding from his difficult starting position near the rear of the large and talented field, he sliced and diced his way forward lap after lap. Craigo in the end narrowly missed being presented the Hard Charger award, advancing nine places to 22nd.