Thompson Doubles Up In USF2000 Thriller
Canada’s Parker Thompson secured a clean sweep of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama, capitalizing on his maiden victory yesterday and winning again this afternoon.
With this result he takes the lead of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda after four of the season’s 16 races.
Australian Luke Gabin finished second for JAY Motorsports, while teenaged New Yorker Robert Megennis completed the podium with an impressive drive for Team Pelfrey after working his way up from 10th position on the starting grid.
Another Australian, Anthony Martin, started on the pole position for Cape Motorsports, but his advantage lasted only until the first corner where Thompson made a decisive move around the outside to claim the lead. Thompson was never again headed, although it was far from plain sailing for the 18-year-old from Red Deer, Alb.
After an early full-course caution when New Zealander James Munro (Team Pelfrey) and Cameron Das (JAY Motorsports), from Baltimore, Md., tangled in Turn Five, Thompson continued in the lead ahead of Gabin, yet another Australian, Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing) and Martin, who struggled with excessive understeer and quickly lost another position to Brazilian Victor Franzoni (ArmsUp Motorsports).
The race soon settled down with Thompson leading narrowly from Gabin, Lloyd, Franzoni and Martin, who were all very closely matched. On Lap 13, after a slight slip from Gabin in Turn Five, Lloyd made his challenge for second place heading into the Turn Eight/Nine complex. Their positions remained unchanged, but their loss of momentum allowed Franzoni to make a move on the entry to the fast, left-right chicane at Turns 10/11. Contact between Franzoni and Lloyd pitched the Brazilian’s car wildly into the air, although, incredibly, he was able to rejoin, albeit back in 12th position. Lloyd wasn’t so fortunate, as a punctured left-front tire pitched him heavily into the barriers at Turn 13 to ensure another full-course caution. Happily, he escaped injury.
Thompson stayed out front at the restart, which came with four laps remaining, and took the checkered flag just 1.1874 seconds in front of Gabin to complete his picture-perfect weekend. Winning team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape claimed the PFC Award, while Gabin took home the Staubli Award.
Megennis overtook Martin for third place on Lap 18 to complete the podium. Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin finished close behind his teammate Martin in fifth, with Ayla Agren (John Cummiskey Racing), Garth Rickards (Pabst Racing), Austin McCusker (Chastain Motorsports/Primus Racing), a recovered Franzoni and TJ Fischer (Team Pelfrey) completing the top 10. Clint McMahan snagged the Tilton Hard Charger Award for his 14th-place result after starting back in 20th for RJB Motorsports.
The next two rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will take place as part of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit on May 12-14.
Parker Thompson (Weyburn Energy-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “I’m most proud of the win today because we started second. That’s not easy here but I got a great start and I didn’t make a mistake. It’s a huge confidence booster. I knew it was going to be difficult to get by Anthony but I knew I had to get it done early, on cold tires. He gave me room, which is awesome. I can’t thank Cape Motorsports enough, to help me come in and get pole and two wins. Yesterday was amazing but to get the win again today and to take maximum points is just fantastic. Anytime you sweep a weekend is great, when you’re looking back at the championship – it’s hard just to get wins, never mind sweeping a weekend. I’m just happy to be in the position I’m in, especially to get both wins, with the great drivers we have in this class.”