Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Neil Alberico put an exclamation mark on his start to the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. The 20-year-old driver from Los Gatos, Calif., was a mark of consistency and made a clean sweep of all three rounds of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Sebring International Raceway.
Alberico, who also started on pole for each race, heads to the final three rounds of Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway with a 21-point advantage over teammate Scott Hargrove.
“The Capes did a really good job with the car, obviously, giving me really good equipment. It was just up to me to make minimal mistakes and focus forward," said Alberico. "At the end of the day, that's all that made the difference. Scott [Hargrove] and my other teammates were really fast as well as some other guys. There is no better way to start the season.”
Hargrove, who finished second in each round, narrowed the gap to Alberico significantly in Race 3 and also bettered Alberico's fastest race lap, but a small mistake cost him a shot for the top spot on the podium. The Vancouver, B.C. native is looking forward to resuming the chase in three days' time.
“It is a great feeling to be back on the podium. For sure in that race I felt like I had the best chance to try and get out of the second spot but it was still phenomenal," he said. "Hats off to Neil [Alberico]. The pressure doesn't affect him at all. He just always hits his marks so, like he said on the podium last time, the one that makes the fewest mistakes will win and that was him again this race. I look forward to giving it another shot next time.”
Garett Grist,17, of Andretti Autosport finished third in the final 12-lap race around the 3.74-mile road course. The rookie from Grimsby, Ontario, Canada who finished fourth in Race 2 earlier in the day also managed to dethrone Alberico on best lap times by posting the quickest lap of the race.
Race 2 saw an all Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing podium with James Fletcher securing his first USF2000 top-three result. The 18-year-old from Surrey, England, retired from Race 1 but rebounded and also added a fourth-place result in Race 3.
Other drivers to roll out with impressive runs included Jesse Lazare of Pabst Racing Services. Lazare, 15, of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, showed steady improvement finishing sixth in Race 2 and fifth in Race 3 on the heels of a seventh-place run in Race 1. Jake Eidson, 17, of Littleton, Colo., posted another sixth-place drive in Race 3 to match his Race 1 result with Afterburner Autosport. Stefan Rzadzinski, 20, of JDC MotorSports brought home a trio of top-10 results over the two days with the Edmonton, Alberta native posting his best result of fourth in Race 1. Belardi Auto Racing's Peter Portante was also a consistent top-10 driver, claiming his best result of seventh in Race 3.
ArmsUp Motorsports driver James Dayson, from Vancouver. B.C., Canada took home the National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises honors in Race 2 but was sidelined by a mechanical issue in Race 3.
Rounds 4 through 6 of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway will take place this Saturday and Sunday.