The Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this week for a doubleheader weekend of racing in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series. The Allied Building Products USF2000 National Championship Races at Mid-Ohio kick off the second half of the season and will mark a crucial point in the championship chase, which has seen five different winners from the first six races. As the first official step on IndyCar's Mazda Road to Indy ladder, drivers are vying for a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the next level and compete in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship.
By the numbers
Petri Suvanto, 18, of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, is the series' only two-time winner this year, proving his adeptness on road/street circuits as well as ovals with victories at St. Petersburg and Lucas Oil Raceway in the “Night Before the 500,” his oval debut. Hot on the Finn's heels are two rising American talents, Andretti Autosport teammates Zach Veach, 16, and Spencer Pigot, 17. Veach and Pigot, who are separated by a single point, lie second and third in the championship with wins at Sebring and St. Petersburg, respectively. USF2000's newest race winner Wayne Boyd, 20, of Belfast, Northern Ireland sits fourth with Belardi Auto Racing following his victory at Milwaukee. Australia's Luke Ellery, 21, a race winner at Sebring with JDC MotorSports, rounds out the top five.
In the National Class, Luca Forgeois, 16, continues his dominant performance with Stevenson Motorsports/Pabst Racing Services, holding a 29-point lead over J.R. Smart, also of Pabst Racing Services. Ardie Greenamyer of AcceleRace Motorsports lies in third.
New faces and returning drivers add to Mid-Ohio grid
Several drivers will be making their USF2000 debuts this weekend. Jonathan Scarallo, 20, of Long Island, N.Y., will join 2010 National class champions AcceleRace Motorsports. Scarallo brings impressive credentials to the table including the title of the youngest Bertil Roos FF2000 champion.
"AcceleRace Motorsports is delighted to showcase Jonathan's talents in front of the large crowds and professional atmosphere of the USF2000 program at Mid-Ohio,” said Team Director Ardie Greenamyer. “Jonathan shares the same desire to succeed in the National Class as the entire AcceleRace Team, as is evident from the support of his sponsors. AcceleRace compliments the USF2000 Series' vision of developing open-wheel racing in America, and we feel having Jonathan on our team is the perfect match toward enhancing the sport."
"I am very happy for the opportunity to make my USF2000 debut at Mid-Ohio,” said Scarallo. “I have been very competitive there in the past, and it's a real driver's track. To top it all off, I get to make my debut with last year's National Class Champions. Driving with AcceleRace Motorsports was such an easy decision. Ardie and everybody on the team run a top-line program and have been extremely welcoming from the first phone call to make the transition very easy for me. AcceleRace has the same hunger to win as I do, and that's a great combination for terrific results."
Additional drivers making their USF2000 debuts include Skip Barber Racing Summer Series race winner Luigi Biangardi, 15, of Barrington, Ill., with Belardi Auto Racing and Joe Colasacco, 44, from Pescara, Italy, with Auriana Racing.
Two familiar faces also will return to the paddock – Roman Lagudi, 16, from Sydney, Australia, and Rodin Younessi, 41, of Palm Beach, Fla. Both will be making their second career USF2000 starts with the experienced JDC MotorSports squad. National Class champion Ardie Greenamyer will be back in the cockpit with AcceleRace Motorsports after a two-race absence.
Mid-Ohio hometown race for two USF2000 Drivers
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing's Shannon McIntosh was born in Miamisburg and began honing her craft throughout the central Ohio region beginning at age five. With a background firmly rooted in Midget racing and over 100 victories, the former Midwest “Asphalt Driver of the Year” is in her first season of road racing with her sights set on a career in the IZOD IndyCar Series. McIntosh has recently garnered national attention as one of five finalists out of 35,000 entries for Seventeen magazine's “Pretty Amazing” real girl cover contest.
“Although I have also considered Indy and St. Pete home tracks this year because I live in St. Pete and lived in Indy, Mid-Ohio is my true home track,” said McIntosh. “I grew up in Ohio and it will always be ‘home' to me. LOTS of family members are coming out this weekend which means so much to me.
“The only experience I have at Mid-Ohio was a test at the beginning of May. We've been testing elsewhere for the past two weeks and I've been really working hard to keep making progress on my road racing craft. I feel really good going into this weekend and feel that the extra experience I've gotten has given me a great boost of confidence and better understanding of the cars. I have to thank Dale Pelfrey and the team for putting together a great testing platform that I feel will pay off heading into the last half of the season.”
Stockdale's Zach Veach began turning heads in the Mid-State Ohio Karting Club at the age of 13, earning several titles in his formative years. The 2011 USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest Champion, Veach has also garnered his share of the media spotlight as a published author (99 THINGS YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU TURNED 16), app developer (urTXT, which helps consumers avoid text messaging while driving), spokesperson (for FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using cell phones), keynote speaker for Young Marines (a youth education and service program) and founder of “Ziggy's Teen Safe Driving Campaign.”
"I've wanted to race at my home track, Mid-Ohio, since I was a little kid, so I'm really excited for the upcoming races there,” said Veach. “I had the opportunity to participate in a series test there and was one of the fastest cars so that gives me great confidence heading into the race weekend. We made up some ground in the championship at Milwaukee in the Zakosi Data Backup Mazda and we now are second in series points, but there's still a lot of work left! USF2000 is tough this year; there are five different drivers that could win the championship. This weekend at Mid-Ohio we have to do our best and try to come out with a win or at least a podium. I know I have a great team and together anything is possible with a lot of hard work."
Drivers on the move
The battle mid-pack in the USF2000 championship is just as intense, with three drivers looking to break into the top five in the standings. Nineteen-year-old Juan Piedrahita of JDC MotorSports has come on strong in the past two events with podium finishes in the oval rounds to move the Colombian talent just three points shy of fifth place. Canadian Matthew Di Leo's string of consistent performances has placed the 16-year-old only nine points out of fifth place with the veteran Brian Stewart Racing team. Former SCCA VW Jetta TDI Cup Champion Timmy Megenbier is also within striking distance. The 20-year-old Chicago native and the newly formed Sick Tea Motorsports team have four top-seven finishes to their credit.
Round 1 of The Allied Building Products USF2000 National Championship Races at Mid-Ohio will kick off on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. ET – just prior to the start of IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying and the American Le Mans Series race. The green flag for Round 2 of the doubleheader will fly at 12:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, as a lead in to the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.