Hargrove Claims Cooper Tires Winterfest Race Win at Palm Beach

Story posted - Feb 11 2013 5:29 AM

Alberico Maintains Points Lead with Second; Sets Fastest Lap to Ensure Pole for Race 5

JUPITER, Fla. - Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing maintained its strong form in today's fourth round of the Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship at Palm Beach International Raceway by locking out the podium.

Scott Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, led all 20 laps after starting from pole position but remained under pressure for the entire distance from Neil Alberico, who had won all three opening rounds of the six-race mini-series earlier in the week at Sebring International Raceway. Englishman James Fletcher profited from a dramatic first-lap incident to climb from eighth to third, which he maintained until the finish.

Hargrove, in the #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing Van Diemen-Mazda, narrowly held off Alberico's #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving entry into the tight chicane at Turn One. Behind, though, there was mayhem as Jeroen Slaghekke, who qualified seventh in a fourth Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor car, made a mistake under braking, veered off onto the grass on the left side of the track, then slewed back onto the racing line shortly after the first apex.

The Dutchman narrowly missed Hargrove and Alberico, but the two second row qualifiers, Jesse Lazare (#21 Pabst Racing Services) and Stefan Rzadzinski (#93 Can Torque/ Christenson Developments-JDC MotorSports), weren't so fortunate. Florian Latorre (#91 JAY Motorsports) also was left with nowhere to go.

Once the dust had settled and the Pace Car had been scrambled, Fletcher emerged in third place ahead of Felipe Donato (#51 ArmsUp Motorsports) and Austin Cindric (#77 Nightrain Clothing/Andretti Autosport), who had started 13th and 15th, respectively.

The race was restarted after five laps of full-course caution, whereupon Hargrove and Alberico checked out from their pursuers. Alberico set the fastest race lap, earning himself a championship point and the pole for tomorrow's Round 5, but was unable to find a way past Hargrove, who kept up a fast, consistent pace to take the checkered flag just over one second clear for his first-ever victory.

Garett Grist (#7 DaVinci Foods/Andretti Autosport) was the man on the move, passing teammate Cindric on Lap 7, then finding a way past Donato on lap 10. The Canadian teenager then piled the pressure on Fletcher before being obliged to settle for a fourth-place finish.

Donato held on for a worthy fifth ahead of a closing Matthew Di Leo (#56 Res Precast/MDL Racing) and Cindric, the youngest driver in the field at age 14 who was turning faster and faster laps as the race unfolded.

The final two rounds of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway will take place tomorrow, February 10, at 10:45 am ET and 3:10 pm. Live timing and scoring will be available at www.usf2000.com.

Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - First: "This is a phenomenal feeling. I just never looked back once I got up into the lead after the start. I knew Neil [Alberico] was right behind me and did my best to not look in the mirrors and kept trying to do as little mistakes as possible. The Cape team gave me a great car and it was fantastic to drive. I'm thrilled. My goal was to turn consistent lap times. I didn't want to push too hard and drop a wheel because I knew Neil would be right there; it was that close. Consistent laps are what ended up winning me the race. I couldn't be happier."

Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - Second: "To win a championship, you have to have consistent finishes and at the end of the day we were second best. We scored good points and had the quickest [race] lap, so we will start on pole tomorrow and hopefully have a good race. This track is super difficult to pass on and I give Scott [Hargrove] a lot of credit. He didn't make too many mistakes. I had a few opportunities but, at the end of the day, we were thinking about the big picture. Hopefully, we will have something more for him tomorrow."

James Fletcher, #3 (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - Third: "I had a huge amount of pressure in the race from Garett Grist. We were still trying to find some pace; we knew we were slightly off but the accident bumped us up to third and we managed to stay there. I am really happy with the result."

Pos Start Pos Class Pos Class Car No. Driver Hometown Team No. Laps Diff Total Time Best Time In Lap Status
1 1 1 CHP 2 Neil Alberico Santa Clara, CA Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 24:48.423 2:03.074 * 9 Running
2 2 2 CHP 38 Scott Hargrove Vancouver, BC, Canada Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 9.611 24:58.034 2:03.881 5 Running
3 5 3 CHP 11 Danilo Estrela Goiania, Brazil Belardi Auto Racing 12 27.468 25:15.891 2:05.323 6 Running
4 3 4 CHP 93 Stefan Rzadzinski Edmonton, AB, Canada JDC MotorSports 12 32.825 25:21.248 2:05.172 5 Running
5 4 5 CHP 10 RC Enerson New Port Richey, FL ZSports Midwest w/Team E Racing 12 33.525 25:21.948 2:05.774 7 Running
6 8 6 CHP 18 Jake Eidson Littleton, CO Afterburner Autosport 12 42.616 25:31.039 2:06.027 8 Running
7 13 7 CHP 21 Jesse Lazare Dollard des Ormeaux, QC, Canada Pabst Racing Services 12 43.045 25:31.468 2:06.146 12 Running
8 17 8 CHP 41 Peter Portante Plainville, CT Belardi Auto Racing 12 45.838 25:34.261 2:06.097 10 Running
9 14 9 CHP 23 Jason Wolfe Mount Vernon, OH Pabst Racing Services 12 46.679 25:35.102 2:06.433 6 Running
10 10 10 CHP 56 Matthew Di Leo Innisfil, ON, Canada MDL Racing 12 48.031 25:36.454 2:06.473 5 Running
11 7 11 CHP 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI JDC MotorSports 12 48.182 25:36.605 2:05.868 8 Running
12 12 12 CHP 77 Austin Cindric Charlotte, NC Andretti Autosport 12 53.934 25:42.357 2:06.008 10 Running
13 16 13 CHP 19 Clark Toppe Woodlands, TX JDC MotorSports 12 1:00.212 25:48.635 2:07.169 10 Running
14 15 14 CHP 12 Arthur Oliveira Sao Paulo, Brazil JDC MotorSports 12 1:05.823 25:54.246 2:07.191 8 Running
15 18 15 CHP 4 Daniel Burkett Winnipeg, MB, Canada Belardi Auto Racing 12 1:14.721 26:03.144 2:08.290 6 Running
16 19 1 NAT 16 James Dayson Vancouver, BC, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports 11 1 Lap 25:25.832 2:17.085 4 Running
17 22 16 CHP 7 Garrett Grist Grimsby, ON, Canada Andretti Autosport 10 2 Laps 21:42.212 2:05.109 8 Not Running
18 11 17 CHP 17 Wyatt Gooden Cleveland, OH Afterburner Autosport 9 3 Laps 21:42.651 2:06.585 9 Not Running
19 21 18 CHP 3 James Fletcher Surrey, United Kingdom Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 8 4 Laps 22:04.492 2:04.041 7 Not Running
20 6 19 CHP 91 Florian Latorre Libourne, France JAY Motorsports 6 6 Laps 13:30.985 2:06.454 4 Not Running
DNS 9 DNS CHP 32 Jeroen Slaghekki The Hague, Netherlands Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing DNS DNS
DNS 20 DNS CHP 9 Felipe Donato Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil JAY Motorsports DNS DNS

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