Watkins Glen: Weekend Notebook
There was plenty to report on over the weekend at Watkins Glen that never made in the track action press releases or on the website. To compensate for this, a new feature fans and competitors alike can look forward to on the F2000 website will be post weekend notebooks.
Danica and Caitlin
F2000 Z-Sports driver Caitlin Johnston got a chance on Saturday morning to spend some time with Indy Car Series star Danica Patrick. The two met after the Indy Car drivers meeting on the top floor of the media center, with PR reps and photographers in tow, in addition to the entire Z-Sports team.
Johnston and Patrick spent a few minutes talking about racing formula fords, the F2000 cars and series, and the jump to Indy Lights.
“She was very down to earth, and very interesting to talk to,” Johnston said minutes after the meeting. “I would love to be able to sit down and have dinner with her. We both have raced at Shannonville which is pretty cool.”
Group A Racing
While the results may not show it, Group A Racing may have been the hardest working team in the paddock all weekend. Two crashed Van Diemens in Friday’s race saw Group A mechanics led by Steve “Elvis” Thexton and Sam Elliot stay up 26 straight hours putting the cars back together.
Jonathan Scarallo jumped in his repaired #22 and qualified fourth while a throw out bearing sidelined Colin Alexander for qualifying after the crew had stayed up all night splitting the car more than once.
Alexander damaged the bellhousing on his Van Diemen during Friday’s race. With no spare bellhousing to be found in the paddock, series competitor Charles Finelli arranged for a bellhousing to be brought up from another driver’s – John Dole – shop on Long Island, and the guy doing the driving late on a Friday night with a bellhousing, former full time F2000 driver - Brendan Puderbach.
2006 F2000 title winner Matt McDonough was in the field for the first time since 2007. While he ran at the front in the only Piper chassis in the field, McDonough admitted it is not the same series it was.
“The competition in the series is very tough compared to past years. The younger talent goes much deeper,” McDonough said.
He couldn’t help but share some wisdom with the up-and-coming open wheel stars in the field: “The top five in the championship need to realize that it's not always if you win, but how you play the game and there's a line between driving fast and making low margin moves.”
Wing of the Month Club
The high speed, low downforce Watkins Glen circuit saw many teams trying out aero tweaks to trim cars out as much as possible.
Group A went as far as developing higher side panels and a new engine cover that covered up the fuel rail to eliminate as much drag as possible. The new parts also saw improved driver safety with more helmet and head protection.
It didn’t stop there; there were developmental wings on quite a few cars, including the ADSA/Wright team and GTP Motorsports. Barge boards were also seen being tested, along with a developmental diffuser.
Alegra continued to use their modified engine covers with the “fin”, in place since Lime Rock, with Fabio driving his #26 from 31st to seventh on Sunday. Audette Racing’s #21 Van Diemen features the same tweak on the engine cover, directing as much air as possible to the upper element on the rear wing.
Chris Miller’s Van Diemen that went to victory on Friday to take back the championship lead appears to be full of regular Van Diemen parts.
Top teams JDC and St. Clair have very little in the “aero bits” department and concentrate on car setup.
Alegra Motorsports is not wasting any time before the series heads to Summit Point. The team plans to run the SCCA National event with F2000 driver Victor Carbone next weekend.
Carbone was unable to participate at Watkins Glen due to being under the age of 18 on an Indy Car weekend. Carbone was in attendance under the Alegra awning and helped the team work on Orsolon’s machine.
Chris Gumprecht finished eighth on Sunday, improving his best finish ever from a ninth at Thunderbolt last season. Gumprecht also logged his best ever qualifying results, gridding seventh for both races. Gumprecht made the move to St. Clair Motorsports between Lime Rock and Watkins Glen, also having a solid run at the June Sprints, and with driver coach Tommy Byrne, is picking up speed.
Series newcomer Ardie Greenamyer contested his first F2000 weekend at Watkins Glen and is planning to finish out the season. Greenamyer managed to stay trouble-free in the races to come home 16th on Friday and 15th on Sunday.
Greenamyer’s entry is sponsored by new-style auction website Bidazzled.com, which donates proceeds to cancer research.