Steadily improving rookie driver Scott Anderson drove an impressive race in treacherous conditions to secure a well-deserved first victory in today's Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products. Last year's Skip Barber National Series Champion started third in Belardi Auto Racing's No. 14 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development//Neuropathy Testing Center/Laser Centers Van Diemen-Mazda, but took the lead midway around the first lap when front row starters, championship rivals and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Matthew Brabham and Spencer Pigot ran off the road in unison at Turn Six while disputing the lead.
On a track still wet from a thundershower earlier in the morning, Anderson immediately pulled out a slight advantage over Brabham and Pigot, and remained in front when the caution flags flew on Lap 3 following a couple of incidents farther down the field. The 23-year-old from Fort Collins, Colo., maintained his lead on the restart and was then gifted a little more breathing space when Brabham and Pigot tangled together for a second time at Turn Six to ensure another full-course caution.
Excellent work by the ever-diligent corner workers left enough time in the shortened race for a one-lap dash to the checkers. Once again Anderson kept his cool – and his lead – to finally break the string of six consecutive wins by the Cape Motorsports team.
“I had some really good opening laps at the start of the race and was able to put a decent gap on Spencer (Pigot) and Matt (Brabham). After that, with the restarts, they were able to get some pretty close attempts at me. At the end, I was just trying to hang on to the car and keep a gap and really not throw it off. I was happy to bring it home and extremely happy to have a win. I have to say a huge thanks to the Belardi Auto Racing guys and MAZDASPEED Motorsports.”
Anderson set the fastest lap of the race for good measure on the ninth and final lap to claim an additional championship point, consolidating his fourth-place position overall in the standings with seven races remaining.
Matthew Di Leo finished a career-best second in his family-run Res Precast MDL Racing Van Diemen-Mazda, narrowly ahead of Trent Hindman, who enjoyed another strong run for Cape Motorsports in the No. 3 Premier Woodcraft/Zydro+/DFL Construction/RaceLite Protection/Skip Barber Racing School/Sparco car, Luigi Biangardi (Inject-It/Gulfstream Properties/Slick Locks/Chicago Indoor Racing/ArmsUp Motorsports) and Shelby Blackstock (No. 8 Starstruck/Andretti Autosport).
Neil Alberico bounced back from a disappointing day on Saturday, when his No. 19 Kartel Motorsports/Bondurant School/RaceLite Protection/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports entry suffered a mechanical problem while challenging for a top-six finish, to claim sixth today. Dalton Kellett (No. 5 K-Line Insulators USA Inc/Pabst Racing Services), took seventh, securing a career-best finish for the second successive day, ahead of National Class winner Henrik Furuseth (No. 32 Palfinger/Akrene Mek Verksted/Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing).
Furuseth, who started 19th, drove a spectacular first lap to cross the line in 10th position. He finished eighth overall to claim his second National Class victory and close to within one point of RC Enerson (No. 10 Patriot Bank/Team E/ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing) who finished 11th overall and third in class today.
Local driver Jim Libecco, from Solon, Ohio, also drove a strong race to finish a career-best ninth – and second in the National class – with the No. 98 Akron Skin Center/www.akronskin.com JAY Motorsports Van Diemen-Mazda FE entry.
Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award, for the driver who gained the most positions during the race, which was claimed by Mark Eaton (No. 92 Deathtolionfish.org/ Valvoline/Robinson Motor Sports ; the PFC Award for the winning car owner, which was issued to Belardi Auto Racing; and the Staubli Award, a random finisher award, which was presented to Thomas McGregor (No. 7 Dairy Queen/Exclusive Management/Andretti Autosport).
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will be back on track in two weeks time with the series' first triple-header event at Road America on August 17/18 in support of the American Le Mans Series.