Birmingham, Ala. – Aaron Telitz produced a stunning performance this evening at Barber Motorsports Park to earn victory in the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races that will comprise this weekend’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama.
Victor Franzoni finished second for Afterburner Autosport after leading most of the race, while Jake Edison extended his championship lead to 18 points, 130-118 over Telitz, after taking third for Pabst Racing.
Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., started fourth and moved up one place on the opening lap when teammate Nico Jamin tangled with Franzoni in Turn Two. The pole-winner came off worst as his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Van Diemen-Mazda ended up in the gravel and out of the race. Telitz then ran third for the majority of the 20-lap, 30-minute contest, in the wheel tracks of Franzoni and Eidson.
Telitz made his first impressive move on Lap 18, diving to inside of Eidson under braking for Turn Five to move into second place. One lap later he pulled off an even more audacious maneuver by pulling alongside Brazilian rival Franzoni under braking for the same turn – this time on the unfavored outside line. To his credit, Franzoni kept it clean and Telitz kept his nerve to take the lead and edge away over the final two laps to earn his first win of the season. The victory brought welcome redemption after losing the lead just two weeks ago at NOLA Motorsports park due to a drive-shaft failure. Telitz also secured the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award.
Luke Gabin, who graduated to USF2000 after winning last year’s Skip Barber Championship Shootout and a MAZDASPEED scholarship, ran a strong fourth for Team Pelfrey in the early stages before an off-course excursion led to a broken nosecone. Australian Anthony Martin (John Cummiskey Racing) profited to claim fourth for the third time this season, while Canadian Parker Thompson finished fifth for JDC MotorSports.
The PFC Award went to the winning car owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, and the Staubli Award to Martin.
The sixth round of the 16-race season and the second leg of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama will start tomorrow at 5:20 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at usf2000.com.
Aaron Telitz (#3 Rice Lake Weighing Systems-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “I was behind Victor at the start and he ran a little wide in Turn One. They ended up touching and Nico (Jamin) got the worst of it, which is disappointing. You never want to see your teammate in a gravel trap. But a bad race will happen to all of us at some point this year. I was able to get around Jake (Eidson) in Turn Five, which seems to be the only place I can make any passes here! Victor (Franzoni) was having a hard time getting around Turn Three, since he had a big push. I had a really good run on him and he defended on the bottom, so the only choice I had was to go on the outside of him. I broke late; I think we both had our tires locked up and came out of there side by side and I got on the inside by the next corner. You always have the championship in the back of your mind, but there’s a long way to go. We just have to keep having good finishes.”
Victor Franzoni (#17 Novac Sports/XYV Talents/E-QUAL-Afterburner Autosport): “I knew I had to get the lead on the first lap because I wasn’t the quickest today. I tried in Turn One and we were side by side and Nico put me in the grass. I couldn’t brake in the grass so I went straight and I just touched his rear tire and he spun. My tire was damaged; it was OK for the first 10 laps, but then it started to understeer and I couldn’t hold the position. But I’m happy with the final result.”
Jake Eidson (#22 OMP/Bell Helmets/1st Bank/SAFEisFAST.com/Team USA Scholarship-Pabst Racing): “I could see Victor trying to get to the inside of Nico and, obviously, Nico didn’t want that to happen. You could almost see it coming, from the angles they were at, and sure enough, Nico went off. But it’s racing; you’re trying to do everything you can, especially on a track like this where it’s so hard to pass. So I understand their predicament but I was glad I was able to stay out of it. I was able to get pretty close to Victor through the race, but just wasn’t able to get a pass done. Meanwhile, Aaron caught me off guard in Turn Five. But I just wanted come away from this race with a podium and good points.”