Andersen Racing's Bystrom Wins on Friday; His Teammates Gonzalez and Mansur Also Get Podium Finishes at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., May 12 - Andersen Racing's Noah Bystrom was unbeatable in Round 3 of the F2000 Championship Series Friday at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park, winning his first series pole and his first series race.

One of his teammates, Juliana Gonzalez, also recorded her best series results by both starting and finishing second on Saturday in Round 4. Just 1.572 seconds kept young Gonzalez from posting her first series victory like Bystrom did 24 hours earlier.

A third driver for the Fairfield, N.J.-based team, Terrick Mansur, is unofficially now second in the point standings, just ahead of his teammate Bystrom, thanks to a third on Friday and a fourth on Saturday in the series' second doubleheader of the year.

Friday must have been Bystrom's lucky day, as he won his first series pole in the morning and his first series race in the afternoon.

He got the pole when Cole Morgan's time was thrown out after Morgan's car was found to be underweight in the post-qualifying technical inspection. That made it an all Andersen Racing front row, as Mansur started second in the 32-car field.

Round two winner Keegan Van Sicklen, who started fourth, passed Bystrom going into Turns 2 and 3 at the start of the race, but Bystrom got back by him going into the chicane to lead the first lap. Van Sicklen then got by Bystrom again, but Bystrom hounded him until he was able to charge by yet again just before the halfway point.

This time it stuck, and Bystrom was never again headed with his No. 10 to earn the right to celebrate from the top step on the podium after the non-stop, 18-lap race. The 24-year-old Chanhassen, Minn.-based driver's Van Diemen advertises APEX Universal Joints, COOPER Power Tools, HOFF-ILK Auction Services and the TOP DOG Foundation.

The battle for second was frantic to say the least. Round one winner Matt McDonough eventually got the spot but Mansur was right behind him to give Andersen Racing two-thirds of the podium. Gonzalez was fifth and Ricardo Vassmer was sixth, so four Andersen Racing drivers took the top six spots. Scott Willard qualified in the top 10 and finished 14th.

Gonzalez qualified second and Mansur third for Saturday's race and they had the best results in the 18-lapper later that day when Gonzalez finished where she started and Mansur nailed down fourth. Bystrom qualified fifth but he was involved in an accident at the start and he never had a chance, as his race was over before it started.

Gonzalez slipped a spot on the restart following that accident but she regrouped nicely and regained second place shortly thereafter. Mansur came on strong at the end to get fourth.

Vassmer was getting used to a new car this weekend but he still ran strong with his PDV-sponsored car, coming in sixth on Friday and tenth on Saturday. Willard ran consistently, finishing 15th on Saturday.

The next F2000 doubleheader is scheduled for Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. June 8-10 as part of the Grand-Am Rolex Series' traditional six-hour weekend. Unofficially McDonough is the point leader but two of Andersen Racing's drivers, Mansur and Bystrom, are second and third, respectively.

-credit: ar