Aussie Martin Takes USF2000 Sweep
Anthony Martin came into this weekend’s Allied Building Products USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio 20 points adrift of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Parker Thompson in the battle for this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Up for grabs is a Mazda scholarship to graduate to the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2017. Martin, from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, leaves with a crucial 21-point advantage after sweeping this weekend’s triple-header in front of an appreciative crowd for the Honda Indy 200 Verizon IndyCar Series main event.
Thompson had to settle for second place – for the second race in succession after experiencing a problem in the opening race of the weekend with a puncture from debris – while Garth Rickards, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., claimed his first-ever podium finish following an impressive drive for Pabst Racing.
Conditions were hot and humid again this morning, with the sun shining brightly, and that certainly seemed to match Martin’s demeanor as, for the third day in a row, he jumped into the lead at the start, determined to add to his slender points lead. Teammate Thompson, though, had other ideas, and never allowed Martin a moment’s relaxation.
Martin actually completed the first two laps of the challenging 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a 1.3-second margin, but Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, put his head down to post the fastest lap in five of the next six laps and pile the pressure on his Aussie teammate. Martin was up to the challenge, making not the hint of a mistake and never allowing Thompson any opportunity to make a pass. The pair traded fastest laps throughout the 30-minute contest – worth a valuable championship point – including on two of the final three laps before Thompson grabbed it back again on the very last lap. The final margin between them was a scant 0.3101 second, but the win, once again, was Martin’s.
A similarly hard-fought battle for third raged throughout the all-green race as Rickards finally made good on the promise he has displayed during the past 18 months to hold off constant challenges from Brazilian Victor Franzoni (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Australian Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing). The trio was bracketed by a fraction over one second at the checkered flag. Dakota Dickerson (Afterburner Autosport), from San Diego, Calif., also was part of the tussle before slipping back a little toward the end.
Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), 16, from New York, N.Y., secured another Tilton Hard Charger Award, advancing five positions from his grid placing to finish seventh following a lengthy scrap with Nikita Lastochkin (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing).
Englishman Jordan Cane (Cape Motorsports), the youngest driver in the field at age 15, also was part of this battle until being assessed a drive-through penalty for causing an incident involving JAY Motorsports’ Luke Gabin.
Lucas Kohl (John Cummiskey Racing), who finished 12th, took home the Staubli Award, while brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape earned their 11th PFC Award as the winning car owner. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing also tied up its fifth consecutive Team Championship this weekend.
The USF2000 season will conclude – along with the entire Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – with two more races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calif., on September 9-11.
Anthony Martin (No. 8 Burgess BLA-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “I’m just so happy right now; happy for myself, for my team, my sponsors, my family back home – especially for my mum. I’m sure she’s so relieved right now. I did not expect to be in this position, coming into the weekend 20 points behind and coming out 21 points ahead. I knew I needed to be fast this weekend and take the pole, which I did in all three races. I couldn’t make any mistakes all weekend. I had one lock up going into the Keyhole, trying to get the point for fast lap, but I told myself to settle down at that point. I have to keep this up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the finale. Will Power has helped me out with advice over the past two years, and he knows about being consistent and staying at the front. I know Parker’s going to be hunting very hard for me, fighting me just as hard as I fought him this weekend. It’s a long way from over.”