Tight F1600 Practice Paced by Rickards and Mitchell

April 11, 2014
Garth Rickards

Braselton, GA – Two F1600 practice sessions Friday for 25 cars at Road Atlanta were led by Series newcomers Garth Rickards, for Team Pelfrey, and Jack Mitchell, for Exclusive Autosport. While those two were at the top of the fast lap lists, the front of the field was literally under a blanket as times were ultra-close during practice for the season opening rounds at Road Atlanta.

“It took some time to get the tires to come up to temperature,” said Rickards, who is running the No. 83 for the season. “Now, we need to see what to do to push the car a bit more.”

While times were close, the real pace will come when the entire field rolls for early-morning qualifying on Saturday, during which everyone will be on brand new Hoosier tires. Friday times were already under the existing track records set in 2013.

While F1600 rookie Rickards popped to the top of the morning time sheets in his Mygale/Honda, he beat out second-year Formula F competitor Sam Chastain, in a similar car for Chastain Motorsports, who was also third quick in the afternoon session.

“It was a good session,” said Chastain, from Noblesville, Indiana. “We worked on car changes from testing on Thursday and continued to make adjustments during practice and the car keeps getting better.”

Mitchell was right there in the morning session as well in his Spectrum/Honda, with Will Harvey’s WISKO Racing Mygale in fourth position followed by Swan Motorsports’ 15-year-old Max Mallinen in a Spectrum/Honda.

Rounding out the morning top ten were Franklin Futrelle, Joe Colasacco, with engineering help from WISKO this weekend, Jim Goughary, Nikita Lastochkin and Exclusive’s Jeff Kingsley.

Raceworks' driver Brandon Angel had an off-track excursion while Austin McCusker missed the session following a crash during Thursday testing.

As temperatures warmed up, Mitchell paced a slightly-slower afternoon session ahead of Rickards, Chastain, and Pelfrey teammates Esteban Garzon and Augie Lerch. Pelfrey’s four-car F1600 team enjoyed pre-season testing prior to loading into Road Atlanta at Roebling Road earlier in the week.

Steve Bamford found speed to improve to sixth place with Ayla Agren in seventh, following transponder problems leaving her unofficially timed in the morning session. Jeff Kingsley, Art Foster and Will Harvey followed to complete the top ten.

Futrelle continued an interesting day for Raceworks in the afternoon, going out on track and losing the engine cover off his Spectrum/Honda. Meanwhile, teammate Brandon Angel’s car was repaired in-time for him to get a handful of laps in prior to Saturday qualifying.

Full time sheets are available on www.f1600series.com under the results tab.

The weekend continues with qualifying and a race, both on Saturday and Sunday, Saturday see's Formula F qualifying at 8:00am, followed by a 2:20pm race start while Sunday follows with 8:20am qualifying and a 2:40pm race.

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