7 out of 13 rounds have now been completed in the 2002 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship. Series rookie has endured a tough start to the season but remains confident the second half of the season will be filled with wins and podiums to help...
7 out of 13 rounds have now been completed in the 2002 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship. Series rookie has endured a tough start to the season but remains confident the second half of the season will be filled with wins and podiums to help climb up the point standings.
The season started off late for Andy. He did not finalize his budget until just weeks before the first event at Sebring when he signed with AIM Autosport headed by Ian Willis. Ian's engineering reputation made AIM the team of choice for Andy. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity for pre-season testing, a real handicap in this highly competitive professional series. Andy first saw his car when the team stopped off on the tow to Sebring. They made Andy's seat when he joined the team in Sebring and proceeded to start shaking down the new car. This generally left Andy a step behind throughout pre-event testing.
Andy enjoyed finally getting to run the full course at Sebring and had high hopes. Qualifying was tough but the races held promise. Andy was moving up nicely in race one when he was brake-checked by another car damaging his front wing, stalling his climb through the field at ninth place. In race two Andy had an awesome start and was moving quickly up through the field when he was hit as cars attempted to go four wide down the back straightaway, ending his race on the spot. A top five certainly seemed possible.
After Sebring was Andy's "home track", Mosport International Raceway. Andy won two races and one pole at Mosport in 2001 on his way to the Canadian Formula Ford Championship. Andy was really looking forward to going back to this track where his previous worst finish had been a third place. Testing went well and Andy was clearly one of the drivers to beat. Unfortunately qualifying for race three was cut short due to accidents, leaving Andy to start sixth. In the race he quickly moved to fifth and held on for his first top five finish of the season. Qualifying went much better for race four leaving Andy to start third. Andy was really confident he could get his first podium of the season. Unfortunately, once the tires came up to temperature in the race the car developed a terrible understeer and Andy was lucky to hang on to seventh at the end.
The Road to Indy Oval Championship comprised the next three races of the 2002 Zetec Championship and would be Andy's first oval events ever. Race five was on the 5/8 mile oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the famous "Night Before the 500" event. Practice went well with Andy running in and around the top five. Unfortunately the car suddenly went loose in qualifying and stayed that way for the race. This is certainly not what any driver wants on an oval. Andy drove a smart clean race and carried the car home in 12th. After the race the team found a broken front sway bar in Andy's car which explained the sudden switch to oversteer.
Rounds six and seven were held at the Milwaukee Mile one-week after the Indianapolis 500 in conjunction with CART. Andy and the team struggled with set-up all weekend. Together they worked on it and gained time. Andy was one of the few drivers able to pass in traffic during the races. He would ultimately end up finishing in 11th and 10th in the two races. "I missed the set-up this weekend. The cars were on a knife-edge between understeer and oversteer. That, coupled with two oval rookie drivers, was just not a good combination," said Ian Willis after the event. "We will find a way to do some testing next time."
Andy's next race will be June 30 at Mid-Ohio in support of the American LeMans Series. The series held a two day test at Mid-Ohio in April. Despite never before driving the challenging Mid-Ohio course before Andy was one of the fastest drivers throughout the test. Andy is really looking forward to returning to the road courses and stepping onto the podium. Andy and the whole AIM team are completely dedicated and focused on Mid-Ohio and showing their true potential. Later this season the series moves on to Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway. Andy owns SCCA lap records at both tracks. Look for Andy to turn his season around at Mid-Ohio and show why he is the first American and the youngest driver ever to win the championship in Canada's premier national open wheel series.
You can follow Brumbaugh's progress at www.brumbaughracing.net, www.aimautosport.com, or www.usf2000.com.