Mar 14

Canadian Scott Hargrove dominates 31-car field at Sebring USF2000 opener

He finished the all-green 12-lap race almost seven seconds clear of his nearest challenger

USF2000 - Scott HargroveUSF2000 - Scott Hargrove actionScott Hargrove romped to a convincing victory in this afternoon’s opening round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at Sebring International Raceway.

Hargrove, 18, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada., qualified Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing solidly on the pole position with a new lap record and finished the all-green 12-lap race almost seven seconds clear of his nearest challenger.

Fellow Canadian Garett Grist (#7 DaVinci Foods with Andretti Autosport) drove a fine race to rise from ninth on the grid to second after passing Danilo Estrela (#11 Belardi Auto Racing) on the very last lap.

Hargrove made an exemplary start at the drop of the green flag, while teammate, preseason favorite and fellow front row starter Neil Alberico suffered a mechanical problem and was swamped by the snarling pack of 30 other rivals, all of whom are chasing the prospect of a scholarship to graduate to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2014.

Alberico retired after the opening lap as Hargrove charged in his sophomore season of USF2000, holding a 2.2-second lead by the end of the first lap and never looking back. His margin increased to as much as 7.3 seconds by Lap 6, after which he settled into a comfortable pace and never allowed himself to be seriously threatened.

A fine start saw Estrela, from Goiania, Brazil, move into second place at the first corner with an even better jump from Jason Wolfe (#23 Pabst Racing/Wolfe Trucking Inc.) who vaulted from seventh to fourth. From there battles ensued throughout the field with a constant shuffling of positions.

JAY Motorsports’ Florian Latorre made an impressive debut. The 15-year-old French driver qualified his #91 13th Avenue/MASM-Cogny/Accent du Sud Ouest fifth and took over the third spot at the start, which he held until Lap 7 when he was displaced by a charging Grist. Stefan Rzadzinski of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who fell back to seventh at one stage, rebounded to bring his #93 CanTorque/Christenson Developments/Goldmark Diesel/Calroc Equipment/ Red Line Oil entry home in fifth for JDC MotorSports.

Several drivers had notable runs including Felipe Donato (#51 Top House Design/Inova Mkt/Squadra Kart with ArmsUp Motorsports). The 18-year-old from Sao Paulo earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award for a gain of 10 positions from 29th to 19th, while last year’s National Class Champion Henrik Furuseth, 16, from Oslo, Norway, advanced from 19th to 10th in the #96 Palfinger/Akrene Mek Verksted entry with PRL Motorsports.

A total of eight different teams were represented among the top-10 finishers.

In the National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises, Alliance Autosport’s Scott Rettich, 28, of Camden, Ohio, put an exclamation point on the start of his season with a solid drive to victory in the #71 PDI Communication Systems/Springboro Car Wash entry.

Additional awards included the PFC Award presented to winning car owners Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Alliance Autosport; the Staubli Award presented to Hargrove; and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Rettich.

Friday’s Race 2 in support of the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida will take place at 10:40 am ET.

Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/ Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – First: “I am kind of speechless about how the race went. The car was just phenomenal; this whole week has been phenomenal. The Cape Motorsports guys have given me an awesome package. I know Neil [Alberico] would have pressured me a lot and it is unfortunate that he didn’t get to race, but it was nice to be out front for sure and secure maximum points. The Mazda engine was awesome all race and I was just clicking off laps waiting for the checkered flag. Coming into this week I had a lot of confidence from the Cooper Tires Winterfest, and having a win in the regular season means a lot.”

Garett Grist, #7 DaVinci Foods/Sofina Foods/Bamford Produce/Bell Racing/Corby Concepts/Alpinestars (Andretti Autosport) – Second: “We had a really bad qualifying. With the red flags, I just couldn’t get the momentum going but the race was really good. The Andretti guys worked hard all morning to have the car ready. We did a lot of work with the setup and changed several things, and it all came together. I am really happy.”

Danilo Estrela, #11 Belardi Auto Racing – Third: “We started on used tires and I think we were the only ones. We wanted to save our new tires for tomorrow. I had a comfortable second place but I got caught by traffic going into a braking zone and [Garett] Grist made a move. He was really fast. Overall, it was good. A podium is a podium. We’ll see how Race 2 goes tomorrow.”

Scott Rettich, #71 PDI Communication Systems/Springboro Car Wash (Alliance Autosport) – First National Class: “It was a great race for us. The Alliance Autosport team gave me an incredible car and I just kept pushing hard. I was out there a little bit by myself but nevertheless, it was a lot of fun. I was pushing hard to challenge myself and post strong, consistent laps.”

About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.

About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).

About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. The company also has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. Additional information can be found at www.us.coopertire.com.

 Pos Srt Pos
Pos Class
No. Driver Hometown Team Laps Diff Total Time
Time In Lap Status
1 1 1 CHP 38 Scott Hargrove Vancouver, BC, Canada Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 24:52.528 2:03.369 5 Running
2 9 2 CHP 7 Garrett Grist Grimsby, ON, Canada Andretti Autosport 12 6.766 24:59.294 2:03.509 9 Running
3 3 3 CHP 11 Danilo Estrela Goiania, Brazil Belardi Auto Racing 12 8.992 25:01.520 2:03.818 9 Running
4 5 4 CHP 91 Florian Latorre Libourne, France JAY Motorsports 12 11.492 25:04.020 2:04.554 10 Running
5 4 5 CHP 93 Stefan Rzadzinski Edmonton, AB, Canada JDC MotorSports 12 11.785 25:04.313 2:04.108 5 Running
6 6 6 CHP 18 Jake Eidson Littleton, CO Afterburner Autosport 12 12.572 25:05.100 2:04.050 8 Running
7 8 7 CHP 17 Wyatt Gooden Cleveland, OH Afterburner Autosport 12 13.919 25:06.447 2:04.463 10 Running
8 7 8 CHP 23 Jason Wolfe Mount Vernon, OH Pabst Racing Services 12 13.980 25:06.508 2:04.553 9 Running
9 12 9 CHP 32 Jeroen Slaghekke The Hague, Netherlands Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 15.168 25:07.696 2:03.754 10 Running
10 19 10 CHP 96 Henrik Furuseth Oslo, Norway PRL Motorsports 12 19.067 25:11.595 2:03.489 10 Running
11 18 11 CHP 21 Jesse Lazare Montreal, QC, Canada Pabst Racing Services 12 21.947 25:14.475 2:03.535 10 Running
12 11 12 CHP 98 Brandon Newey Indianapolis, IN Afterburner Autosports/Bryan Herta Autosports 12 w/Cur2b5-.A0g5a5ga2n5ia:1n7.583 2:04.998 10 Running
13 15 13 CHP 41 Peter Portante Plainville, CT Belardi Auto Racing 12 25.879 25:18.407 2:05.159 11 Running
14 17 14 CHP 19 Clark Toppe The Woodlands, TX JDC MotorSports 12 27.260 25:19.788 2:05.218 8 Running
15 13 15 CHP 30 Michael Epps St. Albans, United KingdonPRL Motorsports 12 27.932 25:20.460 2:05.300 10 Running
16 14 16 CHP 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI JDC MotorSports 12 28.947 25:21.475 2:04.980 12 Running
17 16 17 CHP 5 Dalton Kellett Toronto, ON, Canada Pabst Racing Services 12 30.228 25:22.756 2:05.175 10 Running
18 26 18 CHP 20 Luca Forgeois New York, NY ZSports Midwest w/ Team E Racing 12 35.002 25:27.530 2:05.577 9 Running
19 29 19 CHP 51 Felipe Donato Sao Paulo, Brazil ArmsUp Motorsports 12 35.826 25:28.354 2:05.019 9 Running
20 22 20 CHP 12 Arthur Oliveira Sao Paulo, Brazil JDC MotorSports 12 38.231 25:30.759 2:05.646 11 Running
21 23 21 CHP 6 Timothy Paul Mount Kisco, NY ArmsUp Motorsports/SMR 12 39.055 25:31.583 2:05.464 10 Running
22 21 22 CHP 4 Daniel Burkett Winnipeg, MB, Canada Belardi Auto Racing 12 43.283 25:35.811 2:05.690 10 Running
23 30 23 CHP 14 Matt McMurry Phoenix, AZ Belardi Auto Racing 12 44.728 25:37.256 2:05.797 9 Running
24 20 24 CHP 77 Austin Cindric Mooresville, NC Andretti Autosport 12 50.465 25:42.993 2:05.817 11 Running
25 24 25 CHP 22 Andrew Hobbs Milwaukee, WI ArmsUp Motorsports 12 53.742 25:46.270 2:06.733 12 Running
26 25 1 NAT 71 Scott Rettich Camden, OH Alliance Autosport 12 1:02.104 25:54.632 2:07.348 ‡ 9 Running
27 27 2 NAT 16 James Dayson Vancouver, BC, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports 11 1 Lap 24:57.147 2:12.258 10 Running
28 28 3 NAT 25 Ryan Verra Calgary, AB, Canada Alliance Autosport 11 1 Lap 25:20.972 2:15.284 6 Running
29 10 26 CHP 3 James Fletcher Windsor, United Kingdom Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 10 2 Laps 20:57.114 2:04.255 10 Not Running
30 31 27 CHP 10 RC Enerson New Port Richey, FL ZSports Midwest w/Team E Racing 6 6 Laps 16:12.168 2:11.865 2 Not Running
31 2 28 CHP 2 Neil Alberico Los Gatos, CA Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 1 11 Laps 2:25.801 0 Not Running

source: usf2000.com