(27/10/2002) Las Vegas, Nevada -- Fran-Am drivers had to adjust their set-ups and don their sunglasses for the second race of their doubleheader weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After competing on a cold and slightly wet track on Saturday, the sun was shining brightly for Sunday's racing action.
During qualifying for the Fran-Am 1600 West Coast Championship series, Saturday race winner Tim Barber of San Francisco, California battled hard with John Knudsen of Ontario, California and Michael McDowell of Glendale, Arizona for the right to start at P-1. After swapping the position around almost every lap, Barber eventually emerged with the pole.
Barber and McDowell dueled it out for the victory in a thrilling race that had spectators on their feet. In the end it was McDowell who stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in the series followed closely by Barber and Knudsen. The second place finish allowed Barber to stretch out his lead in the championship points race.
The second race for the Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship Series began with a thrilling standing start. Aurelio Lopez Jr. of Guadalajara, Mexico in just his second race in the series qualified second on the grid but stalled his car on the start. The field of cars behind him all managed to get around safely but the stall left Lopez in last place. He would battle his way back up through the field only to be the first car out of the race on lap 13.
Championship points leader Bruno Spengler of St. Hippolyte, Quebec pulled away from the field from the start and put a firm grip on the points standings with his third victory in a row. Spengler's T.C.S. Racing teammate, Scott Jenkins of Portland, Oregon, received a black flag stop and go penalty for jumping the start and then drove a flawless race to finish second.
Gelles Racing's Michael Brooks of Barrie, Ontario capped off a great weekend with his second third place finish in as many days. Phillips Motorsports driver Dan McMullen of Gormley, Ontario, a regular on the second step of the podium after four consecutive runner-up finishes, reluctantly had to give up his place to Jenkins and finished eighth.
16-year-old Dominique Claessens of Rolling Hills, California had another great outing for the Condor Motorsports team. After finishing sixth in his first Fran-Am 2000 race on Saturday, he finished seventh in Sunday's race even after being penalized for jumping the start.
The next race for the Fran-Am 1600 West Coast Championship series is scheduled for November 8-10 at Sears Point Raceway. The Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship Series will round out their season with a doubleheader weekend at Phoenix Firebird Raceway on November 22-24.
The Fran-Am 1600 Regional Championship series is the first step in Fran-Am Sport's Driver Development program, with drivers eventually making the jump to race in the Fran-Am 2000 Series. Each Fran-Am 1600 event features a $7000US prize fund with the overall series champion winning a brand-new Fran-Am 2000 car ready to race the next season. The Fran-Am 1600 race car features a spec-Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 1.6-liter/123-horsepower motor (capable of running an entire season without a rebuild), 5-speed sequential gearbox, and spec-Michelin Sport racing tires.
The Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship is a cousin of Formula Renault in Europe, South America and China. Each Fran-Am 2000 race features a $25,000 Michelin International supported cash prize fund, with the overall series champion winning a ride in the 2003 Super Renault V6 series in Europe. Formula Renault is recognized worldwide as a primary feeder for the Formula One stars of tomorrow. Recent graduates include McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen (who went straight to Formula One from Formula Renault) as well as Sauber's Felipe Massa.
The Fran-Am 2000 race car features a spec-Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 2.0-liter/186-horsepower motor (capable of running an entire season without a rebuild), 6-speed sequential gearbox, and spec-Michelin Sport racing tires.