USF2000 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
At the end of the day, the record books will show Matthew Brabham – or Matty, as he likes to be known – beat Spencer Pigot by seven points for this year's USF2000 championship. Although a close margin, it was often much closer than that.
Pigot was the head-and-shoulders favorite going into the season, a rare second-year driver in the championship. But after Brabham – his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate – pushed him hard in the six-race Winterfest, these two were set for a season-long showdown.
Brabham won on debut in Sebring but Pigot won the next five races running, although those were spread over five months! Pigot took race two at Sebring, swept the doubleheader at St. Pete a week later, and then edged Brabham in a shootout between the two on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. A Mid-Ohio win in race one kept Pigot at the head of the queue, but in each race, Brabham was right there and within striking distance.
The two's tight battle came to a head at race two at Mid-Ohio. On a wet track, and with limited track time, the two collided and fell out of the race. While Brabham recovered from the contact, Pigot seemingly lost his swagger as Brabham gained the upper hand the remaining weekends of the year.
Brabham won the first two of three races at Road America two weeks later, while Pigot (leading, LEFT, Hendricksportsphoto) and he split the wins on the streets of Baltimore. The second race in Baltimore – where Pigot crashed out – left Brabham 41 points clear of Pigot going into the VIR finale. Pigot did what he needed to do there, sweeping the weekend, but not gaining enough points on Brabham to recapture the lost markers.
Only Scott Anderson – MAZDASPEED's backed driver in this series, who advanced from Skip Barber – broke up the Cape monopoly on the top step of the podium. Driving for Belardi Auto Racing, Anderson won twice at Mid-Ohio and Road America. A slow start for him quickly turned positive from Indianapolis onwards, as the Denver native rarely finished off the podium. Teammate Roman Lagudi also had several good results, but struggled to maintain momentum throughout the season.
Matthew Di Leo and Trent Hindman completed the top five in points, Di Leo impressive in his sophomore season and on a single car team and Hindman with a quiet but solid second half of the season in the third Cape car. Hindman, just 17, finished two spots ahead of his fellow 2011 Team USA Scholarship winner Neil Alberico, seventh and top driver for JDC Motorsports this season.
Shelby Blackstock and Thomas McGregor (Andretti Autosport) and Luigi Biangardi (Belardi) had respectable debut seasons to complete the top 10 in points.
A three-way battle for the National Class championship, new for 2012, resulted in Henrik Furuseth taking the title over Mark Eaton and R.C. Enerson. Scott Rettich had the strongest start to the season in class but didn't compete again after Mid-Ohio. The National Class will be limited to Formula Enterprises (FE) class entries for 2013, and renamed the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises.
Like De Phillippi in Star Mazda, Pigot has now gone more than one season in USF2000 without a title. He won eight races to Brabham's four, but three races with five points or less scored compared to Brabham's one ultimately made the difference. Just 18 and with a legendary surname, expect this as the first of many titles for young Matty Brabs.
“I am over the moon at how the whole year went,” he says. “We pushed each other so much and I think we were in a class of our own the whole season, and I am sure that he and I will be racing together the whole way up. It was definitely a good rivalry.”