The start of the second 30 minute Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race of the weekend was delayed by 35 minutes due to bad weather in the Birmingham, Alabama area. When the green flag finally flew it was Nico Jamin who led the field into Turn 1.
Due to the wet track the start was single file and the 15 drivers were able to get through a hectic first lap cleanly. That first lap included a three-wide battle between Anthony Martin, Aaron Telitz and Luke Gabin in T5
The top five after the first lap were Jamin, Jake Eidson, Victor Franzoni, Martin and Telitz, with the sophomore French driver holding a 1.2 second lead as the field crossed the stripe to begin the second lap.
Jamin, who proclaimed that his car was “awesome” on their full wet set-up, was able to consistently turn laps that were between a half and full second quicker than his nearest rivals, and by the 8th lap he had built up an impressive 5.3 second lead over Eidson.
Meanwhile back in the field a few great battles were developing. The first was between Franzoni who was doing everything he could to hold off the Australian rookie Martin. Martin made an aggressive move on the inside of Turn 5 on the second lap, but was not able to hold the spot as he went wide allowing Franzoni to execute a perfect cross over move. Martin finally got Franzoni on Lap 5. Again he made the move up the inside of Turn 5 and this time the two drivers exited the corner together and had a side by side drag race into Turn 8, where Franzoni smartly backed off, ceding the last spot on the podium to the John Cummiskey Racing driver.
Gabin, who had been battling with Telitz for fifth, spun in Turn 2. The Team Pelfrey rookie was able to keep his car rolling, but he suffered enough damage that he had to retire from the race.
Further back in the field a spirited battle developed between Augie Lerch and Max Hanratty for 12th position that ended on Lap 8 with the JAY Motorsports rookie Lerch beached in Turn 1. The Holmatro Safety Team was able to get him pulled out and retired quickly and the field went back to green on Lap 11.
The yellow flag erased the 5.3 second lead that Jamin had built up, but it didn’t seem to matter, because he was able to gap Eidson by a full second on the first lap back to green.
On lap 15, Jamin’s 2.6 lead was again erased when the No. 83 of Garth Rickards became beached in the gravel, necessitating a yellow flag. It looked like the race might finish yellow, but they were able to get him retired and under way while the Green and White flags flew simultaneously.
Eidson was not able to put pressure on Jamin, as the Pabst Racing sophomore was busy defending his second place position against Martin. Martin made a successful out braking maneuver into Turn 5, and Eidson, who after the race complemented Martin, said he left just the slightest of holes but Martin was able to maintain control to make a clean pass to take the middle step of the podium. It is the first career podium (after three fourth place finishes) of Martin’s young USF2000 career.
The podium is even more impressive because the first race that Martin had ever driven in the rain was two weeks ago at NOLA Motorsports Park.
Eidson wasn’t unhappy with his third place finish, as he was able to hold onto his championship lead after Telitz, his nearest competitor, was only able to finish fifth.
Jamin was happy to get redemption after getting together with Franzoni on the first lap in yesterday’s race and finishing a disappointing 14th. He was still steaming about Franzoni’s move after the race today, so this could be a match-up to watch as it’s clear the two sophomore drivers don’t see eye-to-eye.
The final results:
The final results for race #2 are:
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||LAPS COMPLETED||QUICKEST LAP|
|8||5||Keyvan Andres Soori||18||1:36.625|
The winner of the Tilton Hard Charger Award for the first race was Team Pelfrey rookie Nikita Lastochkin who gained five spots after missing qualifying due to sustaining damage in practice crash.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series will be back on track in two weeks at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.