Salem, NH – The penultimate weekend of the 2016 Atlantic, F2000 and F1600 Series is upon drivers and teams as Formula Race Promotions heads to the classic Thunderbolt circuit at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on a two-day weekend format, August 27-28.
The ultra-competitive F1600 Formula F Championship Series has an epic Championship battle brewing with two weekends and six races to go.
Along with Atlantic and F2000, F1600 will be part of the new two-day weekend format, which is being trialed in New Jersey ahead of the 2017 season.
Team Pelfrey’s Phillippe Denes surrendered his points lead at Pittsburgh International Race Complex earlier in the month, while K-Hill Motorsports’ driver Neil Verhagen vaulted to two race wins. Verhagen will need to continue his form to advance his slim 18 point Championship lead. Both of Verhagen’s Pittsburgh wins were in dramatic fashion, with just thousandths of a second separating him from second place in both his victory drives.
Another K-Hill driver sits third in the points as Peter Portante also had a strong weekend in Pittsburgh to go with race victories at Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta earlier in the year.
Team Pelfrey’s Calvin Ming, fourth in points, and Rice Race Prep’s Steve Bamford, fifth in points, are also in positions to leave New Jersey with the points lead, with 155 points on tap over three races in two days. Ming has climbed the top step of the podium a number of times in 2016, while Bamford, who is in the Masters Class, has thrown together a consistent season of podium finishes in the No. 07 machine.
Personal best drives of the year came from Hans Ada, for K-Hill Motorsports at Pittsburgh, as well as Kaylen Frederick, from Team Pelfrey, who took his first victory.
A number of names are returning to competition at NJMP, with Will Harvey rejoining the F1600 circus after a brief hiatus for Exclusive Autosport. Max Mallinen and Swan Motorsports are also back after skipping Pittsburgh.
In the Masters Class, Mike Scanlan and Rob Albani are expected to challenge Bamford for top honors.
Just a handful of points will seal the deal for Steve Bamford as the 2016 F2000 Championship Series title winner. Bamford has taken victory after victory during of the F2000 season, but a new challenger has emerged as Trent Walko rejoined F2000 competition at Pittsburgh for Team Pelfrey, with a double podium performance.
Walko will be back for a second weekend in the No. 82 Van Diemen/Mazda, and will be hunting for his first career F2000 victory over rounds 11 and 12 of the 14-race season.
A number of other challengers will feature on the New Jersey entry list, including Dotworks Racing driver John McCusker and Tim Paul, who make his first start since Mid-Ohio in July in the No. 06 Screaming Monkey Racing Van Diemen, prepared by Momentum.
An encouraging season for Brandon Dixon has put him second in the Championship picture, and the driver of the No. 5 will be another contender looking for his debut F2000 win.
After a solid weekend at Pittsburgh, Davy D’Addario is back, as is Steve Jenks, who scored his best ever F2000 result with a third place run for Tumenas Motorsports
Making his first F2000 start will be Donald Betterly for MMC Racing.
R-Sport’s lineup will feature Bob Reid in the Metrik, while Peter Gonzalez will be the only driver at NJMP strapping into the Radon chassis as Robert Wright has moved to a Van Diemen/Mazda for the event.
Additional entries include Dan Denison, who finished a strong sixth at Pittsburgh for Polestar, as well as Dave Weitzenhof, who sat on pole at Watkins Glen in May.
David Grant is coming off a weekend sweep for Polestar Racing Group at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, but Ryan Norman looks set to lock up the Atlantic Championship Series title for K-Hill Motorsports at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Norman’s K-Hill Motorsports entry leads the Championship by 66 points over Keith Grant, who will need a monster weekend at the Thunderbolt circuit to take the fight to the season finale at VIR. Fifty-five points are available in each race, with four races to go in the season of 14.
New Jersey, however, may suit Keith Grant and the Polestar Racing Group, as it was Grant who smashed the overall track record in qualifying last August with the fastest lap ever turned at Thunderbolt.
David Grant, meanwhile, has put together a strong partial season after coming back to Atlantic competition at VIR in June, scoring three wins over six starts.
The Atlantic Challenge class has also gotten intense, as Comprent’s Bob Corliss has a 55 point lead over Bruce Hamilton, who drives for K-Hill, as the two continue a season-long battle. They will once again be joined by the father-and-son pairing of John and Connor Burke, both of whom stole class wins away from Corliss and Hamilton at Pittsburgh.
In addition Chris Ash, Richard Zober and Lee Alexander will race for Comprent at NJMP, while Lee Brahain will make his first start of the season for K-Hill.