MINNEAPOLIS, MIN. (August 3, 2012) – Afterburner Autosport-backed racing standout Niki Coello once again showcased his talents behind the wheel this past weekend (July 28-29), taking home another podium finish in the hotly-contested F2000 Championship Series. The Wisconsin driver rebounded from a Round Nine first-lap incident to score a third place finish in Round Ten at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, keeping him firmly entrenched in the fight for the championship top-three.
Nearly a month after an up-and-down event in New Jersey - where he earned a fourth podium finish - Coello was ready to get back behind the wheel of the No. 81 RFR Cars/William’s Race Engineering/Carbotech/Elite Engines/Speed Seat Factory/Pouredfoundations.com/Hoosier Tires/afterburner Autosport/Coello Racing entry, and resume his continued quest for top honors in the F2000 Championship Series. While the technical undulating Mid-Ohio road course presented plenty of challenges to the drivers and crew, Coello was positioned to be among those battling for wins in the doubleheader, particularly since he captured his inaugural Formula Continental SCCA National Championship title at the same track in 2005.
As planned, the opening twilight test sessions and two official practice runs were spent on fine-tuning the RFR chassis for the technical nature of the 2.25-mile track. Despite not focusing on an outright fast lap, Coello displayed great pace in the sessions, ending testing P4 and practice P3.
When the 30+ field returned to the track on Saturday morning for race one qualifying, the key for Coello was to find track space and post a fast clean lap. The record four-time SCCA Formula Continental National Champion did just that, posting the third best time, earning an inside row two starting position for the opening round of the Mid-Ohio doubleheader a short time later.
Getting the green flag down the long back straight, Round Nine got underway with Coello holding his top-three position through the opening sequence of turns. This unfortunately proved to be the high point of the lap, as in the 'Carousel' turn Coello was struck my another competitor. Immediately diving into pitlane, the Coello Racing crew did a superb quick makeshift suspension repair on the No. 81 steed, and sent Coello back out to fight for valuable points. Despite a damaged front suspension that made the car difficult to drive, Coello put on an impressive driving display. Showcasing the speed, skill, and racecraft of a champion, he charged from the back of the 33-car group all the way to 14th at the checkered flag.
Aware that the less than ideal race one result had cost him valuable points, Coello was focused on rebounding with a strong effort in Round 10. After posting the fourth fastest time in the morning qualifying session, the Afterburner Autosport supported racer set about going forward immediately upon the green flag waving. His opportunities, however, were limited, as a pair of lengthy full-course cautions resulted in only a couple of green flag laps. Managing to avoid a late race collision among two fellow front-runners, Coello ultimately took the checkered flag in third, earning a fifth visit to the post-race podium in 10 series races.
"It was great to get another podium finish at Mid-Ohio," commented Coello. "That being said, I'm still frustrated about what happened in race one. We had a car that could have potentially been in the battle for the win, but we never got that chance because of the incident in the Carousel. Now it is time to focus on the races at Summit Point, and reaching our goal of a trip to victory lane."
The Afterburner Autosport-backed Coello continues his pursuit of an F2000 Championship Series win on August 25-26, with Rounds 11 and 12 of the 14-race title fight at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. The Wisconsin racer enters the doubleheader currently fourth in the championship fight.
Afterburner Autosport races with associate sponsorship from www.AuroraBearing.com