Alton, VA - Nicholas Palacio scored his first F2000 Championship Series pole position in qualifying for the 2017 season opener held on Friday afternoon under hot and humid conditions at VIRginia International Raceway. Palacio drove to pole with a lap of 1:52.900 over Reece Everard and Steve Jenks.
Palacio said he wanted to group himself with other fast cars at the start of the 30-minute session; cars he could chase. That didn't happen, before or after an early stoppage, leaving him alone to run fast laps.
"I've been here to VIR a few times, and after an extensive off-season rebuild, I had a lot of confidence in the car," said the driver of the No. 25. "I was pushing in areas I hadn't in the past."
Palacio is at the track with a sole crewmember this weekend, with his family arriving for Saturday and Sunday festivities, including Saturday morning qualifying for race two and both F2000 races, which are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoon, respectively.
Everard, representing another small family team with his father overseeing the car, was second fastest after leading both Thursday practice sessions.
"The car felt awesome, but I'm looking for some more time," said Everard, in the No. 61 Van Diemen. "I just over-drove the car a bit. It was a lot hotter this afternoon compared to yesterday."
Jenks was third in the No. 68 Van Diemen/Mazda, ahead of fellow Mazda-powered cars in John McCusker and Al Guibord, who completed the top five in qualifying for the opening race of the 14-round 2017 F2000 season.
Matt McDonough was pushed back to sixth after qualifying fourth in the No. 69 Radon. The 2006 F2000 Champion lost two grid positions for bringing out an early session stoppage when he spun off the track and needed to be retrieved by the VIR safety team.
Davy D'Addario was a strong seventh while 2016 New Jersey winner Brandon Dixon only ran a handful of laps, qualifying eighth with Tim Paul and Dave Weitzenhof completing the top 10. Peter Gonzalez followed in 11th while 2016 VIR winner Bob Reid was 12th in the R-Sport Metrik.
Connor Gawry saw session come to an early close with rear wing damage to the No. 71 from CJ Motorsports.
Of note, Rob Allaer is running a shortened weekend and is due to arrive at the track for race two qualifying on Saturday morning. For race one, he will be forced to start his No. 52 L.T.D. Motorsports Van Diemen at the back of the field.