BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing continued to hold the upper hand as the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda encountered its only oval track race of the season during this evening’s Carb Night Classic “Race Before the 500" at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Series leader Parker Thompson started from the pole and led the most laps, but Australian teammate Anthony Martin was able to turn the tables in the later stages to claim his second victory of the season.
Thompson finished the Mazda Freedom 75 in second place to maintain his championship lead, while Brazilian Victor Franzoni finished close behind in third place for ArmsUp Motorsports.
Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, continued his unbroken streak of front row starts this season by qualifying on pole position earlier this afternoon. He duly took off into the lead at the start of the 75-lap race, held in warm, breezy conditions on the tricky, banked 0.686-mile oval.
Martin remained seemingly glued to the race leader’s rear wing through the early stages, with Franzoni sneaking past third-place qualifier Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing) in Turns One and Two. Robert Megennis followed in fifth for Team Pelfrey ahead of Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing), who managed to find a way past Ayla Agren (John Cummiskey Racing) for sixth.
Thompson remained in control for the majority of the race, but Martin lurked constantly not too far behind, hoping that lapped traffic might present an opportunity for him to make a pass for the lead. The Australian fought his way alongside Thompson on Lap 22, and the pair battled for several laps in side-by-side formation before Thompson was able to regain the upper hand.
Martin’s next chance came as the leaders entered the final 15 laps and found themselves closing in on the sixth-placed Pabst Racing Van Diemen-Mazda driven by Garth Rickards, who himself had fought his way through the field impressively after completing the opening lap in 12th.
Rickards, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., stood his ground and the top two positions remained the same until the threesome also looked to put another lap on Austin McCusker (Chastain Motorsports/Primus Racing). Finally, on Lap 62, Martin grasped his opportunity by slicing through on the inside of Thompson as the leaders sped into Turn Three.
Martin remained under pressure from Thompson through the closing laps but had to settle for second – his fifth successive top-two finish.
The top two were separated by 1.3037 seconds at the checkered flag, with Franzoni only a further 0.6 seconds back in third and Lloyd similarly close in fourth. Luo found a way past Megennis with five laps remaining to round out the top five. Only six cars remained on the lead lap at the conclusion.
Rickards took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award for advancing from 11th to seventh. Winning team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape claimed the PFC Award, while Megennis took home the Staubli Award.
Martin’s victory reduced Thompson’s championship advantage to 25 points, 177-152, as the series heads next to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for a pair of races on June 24-26.
Anthony Martin (#8 Burgess BLA-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “It was a great race; it was very intense. My car was good in traffic, a little bit better than Parker’s. He got in the wash of the car in front of him in lapped traffic and that’s when I really pulled up to him quickly. He was struggling a little bit in the dirty air and I was able to make a move, get past both cars and pull away a little bit. My car had a bit of understeer so the low line really worked for me. That’s unusual for this track because the high line is usually the way to go, but the Cape team gave me an awesome car. This championship is going to be intense and I have to take every risk I can to get every point I can, and getting the win here really gives me confidence. Moving up through the Mazda Road to Indy, you race on more and more oval tracks so to get my first win on a track like Lucas Oil Raceway is great. This is such valuable experience on how to look after the Cooper Tires and the Mazda engine.”