Maiden Victory for Walko
Millville, NJ - With two laps to go, Trent Walko took the race lead and went on to take his first career F2000 Championship Series victory with a win on Sunday in round 12 of the season at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the No. 82 Team Pelfrey Van Diemen/Mazda. Walko started from pole and spent the entire race battling Brandon Dixon, having to chase him down from two seconds back. Dixon would finish second following his Saturday victory, while John McCusker made it two podiums in two days with a third place run.
Walko didn't have it easy, as he lost the lead on the initial start and fell back behind Dixon. But as the drivers traded fast laps back and forth, Walko closed during the race and got within striking distance when it mattered.
Of his four starts in 2016, Walko has three second place finishes to go with Sunday's maiden win. It is also the first win for Team Pelfrey and Mazda in F2000 Championship Series competition.
"I have some nice dorm room decorations to bring back with me," said Walko, who moved into his college dorm for his sophomore year of university on Friday, missing Series testing. "It was a great race, I kept the pressure on Brandon and he made a mistake. It's great to get my first win here."
Dixon missed out on an opportunity to sweep the weekend, with his first F2000 win having come a day prior in flag-to-flag drive from pole position. On the start, Dixon grabbed the lead with an opportunistic move into turn one from third on the grid passing both pole-sitter Walko and Steve Bamford.
"The car got looser and looser as the laps went on; and Trent got closer and closer," said Dixon, who led 18 laps of the race. "It's been a great weekend for us."
John McCusker spent the majority of the race in third place, taking home his second third place trophy of the weekend for Dotworks Racing by just under a tenth of a second over Bamford.
"Luckily I held Steve off; we had a good race, we made some good moves," said McCusker, who also finished on the podium at NJMP in 2015. "We were struggling with grip but we finished third."
Having started second after clinching the 2016 F2000 title on Saturday, first lap drama sent Bamford back through the pack. But the Rice Race Prep driver recovered moving through the field and closing on McCusker on the last lap.
"It's been a little bit of a rough weekend. Thankfully we got the points yesterday and that's what counted," said Bamford. "The first lap was tough, we were off twice in the first three corners."
Steve Jenks completed the top five, while Nick Palacio came home in sixth ahead of Davy D'addario and Tim Paul.
Bamford, Palacio, D'addario and Paul had a titanic battle among themselves mid-race as the four drivers battled for position.
Completing the top ten, Dave Weitzenhof and Peter Gonzalez finished ninth and tenth, respectively.