SEBRING, Fla. – 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 by sweeping the first three rounds of the Cooper Tires Winterfest 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," Alberico said. "It was just up to me to make minimal mistakes and focus forward. 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.”
CLICK IT: RACE 3 RESULTS
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, BC, Canada native is looking forward to resuming the chase in three days’ time.
“It is a great feeling to be back on the podium," Hargrove said. "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 a phenomenal weekend. The car was great all weekend long and the Cape team just did an awesome job.
"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, 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 also added a fourth-place result in Race 3.
Other drivers to roll out with impressive runs include 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.
Alberico leads Hargrove by 96 points to 75. The next drivers are covered by a mere 10 points with Grist in third with 47, followed by Lazare (46), Rzadzinski (45), Fletcher (44), Eidson (43), Estrela (22), Portante (40) and Enerson (37).
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing holds a commanding lead in the Team Championship with 120 points. Belardi Auto Racing lies in second place with 40 followed by Andretti Autosport with 29.
Rounds 4 through 6 of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition at Palm Beach International Raceway will take place this Saturday and Sunday, February 9/10. Live timing and scoring will be available at www.usf2000.com.