Alberico Clinches Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest in Style at Palm Beach

Story posted - Feb 11 2013 5:32 AM

Hargrove Keeps the Pressure on; Fine Podium for 15-year-old Jesse Lazare in Round 6

Jupiter, Fla. - Neil Alberico bounced back from his narrow defeat yesterday at the hands of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Scott Hargrove to add two more victories today to his three wins at Sebring earlier in the week and clinch the Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship in the best possible manner.

Alberico, 20, from Los Gatos, Calif., led every inch of today's pair of 21-lap races at the 2.034-mile Palm Beach International Speedway aboard the #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving/eFormulaCarNews.com/J & M Trophies Van Diemen-Mazda but never had any breathing room as 18-year-old Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, kept the pressure on throughout both 30-minute contests.

Hargrove (#38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing) made a couple of concerted attempts to wrest away Alberico's advantage following the first of two full-course cautions in Round 6, only for his advances to be rebuffed each time.

Dutchman Jeroen Slaghekke, from The Hague, looked like he had overcome a week of misfortunes aboard a third Wayne Taylor with Cape Motorsports Van Diemen-Mazda, qualifying and running third in the opening stages, only to make a mistake and run wide in Turn Eight on the ninth lap. The resulting loss of momentum dropped him all the way to ninth, whereupon he picked up a black-flag penalty for impeding another car and fell to 13th.

Jesse Lazare, 15, from Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., Canada, drove an impressive race in Round 6 to finish a strong third for the Pabst Racing Services team. Lazare had shown his paces on Saturday, qualifying third for the opening race, but was eliminated from contention in a crash on the opening lap. He bounced back well this morning, rising from 13th to sixth, passing teammate Jason Wolfe on the final lap, then continued his progress in the final round.

He started eighth, made up one place on the opening lap, passed Canadian Garett Grist (#7 DaVinci Foods/Andretti Autosport), Frenchman Florian Latorre (#91 JAY Motorsports) and Englishman James Fletcher (#3 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) on Lap 9, then took advantage of Slaghekke's error to move all the way to third, which he maintained to the finish.

Fletcher, who had finished on the podium in Round 5, placed fourth in the final race ahead of Grist and Stefan Rzadzinski (#93 Can Torque/Christenson Developments-JDC MotorSports).

Latorre also made excellent progress, running as high as fourth before tangling with Fletcher at Turn 10 and falling all the way to 13th. He stormed back to seventh at the finish, passing Peter Portante (#11 Belardi Auto Racing) with three laps remaining.

Alberico claimed the Cooper Tires Winterfest title by a margin of 186 points to the 157 of Hargrove and 107 of Fletcher. Grist (102), Rzadzinski (87) and Lazare (84) rounded out the top six.

The regular season for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will commence at Sebring International Raceway, in support of the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida endurance racing classic, on March 14-15.

Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving/eFormulaCarNews.com/J&M Trophies (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - First/Champion: "My goal was to run my own race, stay out front and, hopefully, keep it there. Scott [Hargrove] did a tremendous job all weekend. The first turn is not easy. He puts on a lot of pressure but fortunately for me, I didn't make too many mistakes. I came out on top again and it feels great. In the race, we were working on consistency and those two yellow flags brought us real close together so I wasn't able to work on pulling a gap the entire race. I put my head down in the opening lap and tried to keep it there to the end. To win five of six races feels pretty darn good. A big thanks to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, my dad and Dan Andersen and the series for putting on a really good Winterfest. I look forward to the beginning of the season in a few weeks."

Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - Second in Race/Second in Championship: "I hope this championship represents how the rest of the year is going to go. Finishing on the podium in every race is just a fantastic result and I can't thank the Cape team enough. They gave me an awesome car. Neil [Alberico] just handles the pressure; it doesn't even bother him so I'll have to find a way past him. It is a good start to the year."

James Fletcher, #3 (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) Fourth in Race/Third in Championship: "Winterfest was a great experience. I learned loads and loads and this past week has been crammed with more racing than I have ever done in the UK in that amount of time. I am still learning the car and we were struggling here a little bit on the pace but we managed to keep a gap, take home some podiums and finish third in the Winterfest. I am really, really happy and I hope the start of the season goes as well."

Jesse Lazare, #21 (Pabst Racing Services) - Third in Race 3: "The first race was a disappointment but we decided we were going to work for the future and keep improving. That is what we have done so I am very happy. I have been with a lot of teams and Pabst is the best I have been with. I really want to thank them a lot, also my dad and the whole series. This is a great organization and I am enjoying it a lot."

Round 5 Results:

Pos Srt Pos Cls Pos Class Car No. Driver Hometown Team Laps Diff Total Time Best Time In Lap Status
1 1 1 CHP 2 Neil Alberico Los Gatos, CA Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 26:04.623 1:14.048 11 Running
2 2 2 CHP 38 Scott Hargrove Vancouver, BC, Canada Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 1.266 26:05.889 1:14.176 4 Running
3 4 3 CHP 3 James Fletcher Surrey, United Kingdom Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 19.069 26:23.692 1:14.944 8 Running
4 3 4 CHP 7 Garrett Grist Grimsby, ON, Canada Andretti Autosport 21 20.691 26:25.314 1:14.946 11 Running
5 7 5 CHP 93 Stefan Rzadzinski Edmonton, AB, Canada JDC MotorSports 21 22.928 26:27.551 1:14.982 15 Running
6 13 6 CHP 21 Jesse Lazare Dollard des Ormeaux, QC, Canada Pabst Racing Services 21 34.486 26:39.109 1:15.041 20 Running
7 9 7 CHP 23 Jason Wolfe Mount Vernon, OH Pabst Racing Services 21 35.048 26:39.671 1:15.180 5 Running
8 15 8 CHP 32 Jeroen Slaghekki The Hague, Netherlands Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 36.423 26:41.046 1:14.609 17 Running
9 16 9 CHP 14 Matt McMurry Phoenix, AZ Belardi Auto Racing 21 40.429 26:45.052 1:15.497 18 Running
10 5 10 CHP 51 Felipe Donato Rio Grande do Sul, BrazilArmsUp Motorsports 21 50.309 26:54.932 1:15.273 2 Running
11 14 11 CHP 91 Florian Latorre Libourne, France JAY Motorsports 21 57.517 27:02.140 1:14.793 15 Running
12 10 12 CHP 12 Arthur Oliveira Sao Paulo, Brazil JDC MotorSports 21 59.854 27:04.477 1:16.137 3 Running
13 8 13 CHP 56 Matthew Di Leo Innisfil, ON, Canada MDL Racing 21 1:04.638 27:09.261 1:15.227 4 Running
14 12 14 CHP 19 Clark Toppe Woodlands, TX JDC MotorSports 20 1 Lap 26:42.500 1:15.173 14 Running
15 11 15 CHP 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI JDC MotorSports 19 2 Laps 26:46.886 1:15.347 14 Running
16 17 16 CHP 11 Peter Portante Plainville, CT Belardi Auto Racing 19 2 Laps 27:09.322 1:15.264 6 Running
DNS 6 DNS CHP 77 Austin Cindric Charlotte, NC Andretti Autosport DNS

Round 6 Results:

Pos Srt Pos Cls Pos Class Car No. Driver Hometown Team Laps Diff Total Time Best Time In Lap Status
1 1 1 CHP 2 Neil Alberico Los Gatos, CA Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 30:15.082 1:14.585 19 Running
2 2 2 CHP 38 Scott Hargrove Vancouver, BC, Canada Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 0.606 30:15.688 1:14.623 19 Running
3 8 3 CHP 21 Jesse Lazare Dollard des Ormeaux, QC, Canada Pabst Racing Services 21 3.956 30:19.038 1:14.819 18 Running
4 5 4 CHP 3 James Fletcher Surrey, United Kingdom Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 21 5.722 30:20.804 1:14.898 16 Running
5 6 5 CHP 7 Garrett Grist Grimsby, ON, Canada Andretti Autosport 21 7.702 30:22.784 1:15.150 5 Running
6 7 6 CHP 93 Stefan Rzadzinski Edmonton, AB, Canada JDC MotorSports 21 8.067 30:23.149 1:15.248 20 Running
7 4 7 CHP 91 Florian Latorre Libourne, France JAY Motorsports 21 10.513 30:25.595 1:15.001 16 Running
8 12 8 CHP 11 Peter Portante Plainville, CT Belardi Auto Racing 21 11.524 30:26.606 1:15.528 16 Running
9 15 9 CHP 14 Matt McMurry Phoenix, AZ Belardi Auto Racing 21 12.170 30:27.252 1:15.577 16 Running
10 13 10 CHP 51 Felipe Donato Rio Grande do Sul, BrazilArmsUp Motorsports 21 15.051 30:30.133 1:15.666 17 Running
11 10 11 CHP 23 Jason Wolfe Mount Vernon, OH Pabst Racing Services 21 18.088 30:33.170 1:15.839 4 Running
12 16 12 CHP 12 Arthur Oliveira Sao Paulo, Brazil JDC MotorSports 21 25.330 30:40.412 1:16.628 19 Running
13 3 13 CHP 32 Jeroen Slaghekke The Hague, Netherlands Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 20 1 Lap 30:53.737 1:14.799 5 Running
14 11 14 CHP 56 Matthew Di Leo Innisfil, ON, Canada MDL Racing 18 3 Laps 32:22.638 1:16.470 3 Running
15 17 15 CHP 77 Austin Cindric Charlotte, NC Andretti Autosport 16 5 Laps 30:45.229 1:16.076 16 Running
16 9 16 CHP 19 Clark Toppe Woodlands, TX JDC MotorSports 9 12 Laps 12:38.054 1:16.022 5 Not running
17 14 17 CHP 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI JDC MotorSports 9 12 Laps 12:38.272 1:16.014 5 Not running

 
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