Watkins Glen Preview
New York, NY – Thirty-six F2000 Championship Series cars are entered for this weekend’s Fourth of July double header event with the IndyCars at Watkins Glen and the field is competitive as ever. Victor Carbone leads in points coming off his fourth win in six races at Mosport. Cole Morgan isn’t far behind, with a single win and a host of podiums from some impressive drives.
Phil Lombardi sits third in points and won at Watkins Glen last year. Young guns Fabio Orsolon, Chris Livengood, Zach Craigo, Bobby Caldwell, Chris Gumprecht and Jonathan Scarallo are still looking for their first win. Add quick Australian rookie Daniel Erickson into the mix as well as Canadian Remy Audette, who won at Mosport, in addition to a host of Masters Class veterans, and Watkins Glen may produce the most exiting weekend of the season to date.
The Series is coming off a weekend at Mosport that saw a rain race and front-runners like Scarallo and Orsolon damaging their cars beyond the point of at-the-track repair. Both hope to rebound big time in rounds seven and eight of the 2010 title race.
Erickson is back after running just the season-opener at VIR where he reset the track record, won two poles, scored one podium and nearly won the second race before a loose spark plug wire took him out of the lead.
Victor Carbone and his Alegra Motorsports #23 have been at the front all year long, winning at VIR, sweeping Road Atlanta and winning again at Mosport. Carbone, from Brazil, has a 78 point lead going into Watkins Glen.
“The goal is to fight for the win in both races,” said Carbone. “The big thing is going to be perfecting the setup in order to stay at the front. Racing with IndyCar is much more exciting as we get to experience part of the IndyCar world, but, this is another race weekend and it won’t change the way I drive.”
Cole Morgan sits second in points and will contest the Watkins Glen weekend for Liberty Motorsports with additional help from K-Hill Motorsports.
“I need to get back into victory lane and gain some ground in the standings,” Morgan said. “Victor (Carbone) is running really well right now and we need to step up our game.
“Every major American open wheel series in the country will be there, and if everyone is smart we can show the fans we put on the best show around.”
The field at Watkins Glen is expected to see the highest car count for an F2000 race since Road America in 2008.
As for the bigger field and potential traffic problems, Morgan said: “The track has a decent amount of passing zones, and even more if you get creative. It shouldn’t be a huge factor.”
Phil Lombardi leads the Masters Class point standings over Tim Minor and Keith McCrone. Lombardi won a wild race at the Glen in 2009 and hopes to repeat in 2010.
Lombardi commented: “Watkins Glen marks the half way point and we have just started to hit our stride. Other than the fifth place in the second race at Mosport, we have finished better in each race than the previous one.
“Victor Carbone and Alegra are on fire, but I don’t think anyone is willing to concede the title just yet. Eight races remain and anything can happen, just look at Mosport. I will be doing a rain dance before this weekend.”
Lombardi leads a class of Masters Class drivers that could play big spoilers at Watkins Glen due to their experience around the 11-turn road course. Tim Minor is expected to be quick and won overall at Summit Point last year. Keith McCrone has been flirting with podiums all year long by staying out of trouble in his R-Sport Van Diemen. K-Fast’s Rob Nicholas was able run for the win at Road Atlanta, but couldn’t close the deal and said his goal is simply to “win a race this season.”
Add in veterans like last year’s Masters Class Champion Tom Fatur along with Robert Wright, Mark Defer, local favorite Craig Clawson, Charles Finelli, Ardie Greenamyer and Dave Weitzenhof and the top 10 could be very interesting.
The SMR team returns for the remainder of the season after sitting out Mosport. Tim Paul is back in the #06 and the Race House #14 squad adds another rookie: Stevan McAleer. Scotland’s McAleer brings a huge amount of open-wheel experience to the Race House/SMR group that is used to running sprint cars and midgets.
And there are more story lines in the paddock: Jesse Yorio has the newest hardware on the grid in the Piper DF5C chassis, but kinks are still being worked out; Al Guibord Jr. put his #95 ADSA/Wright car on the podium at the Glen last year and is always quick around the New York road course; Chris Livengood will have his second full weekend of Zetec-power after converting from Pinto right before Mosport.
The F2000 Championship Series heads to Watkins Glen with the IndyCars, July 2-4, for rounds seven and eight of the 2010 season. Friday July 2 features four sessions, including two afternoon qualifying rounds before race one on Saturday and race two on Sunday. Follow live updates online at www.F2000ChampionshipSeries.com or on Twitter @F2000.