Hildebrand Keeps Streak Alive with Dominating Mid-Ohio Win Lexington, Ohio (May 20, 2006) - Rising American star J.R. Hildebrand stormed to his third consecutive Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship series win, serving notice to...
Hildebrand Keeps Streak Alive with Dominating Mid-Ohio Win
Lexington, Ohio (May 20, 2006) - Rising American star J.R. Hildebrand stormed to his third consecutive Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship series win, serving notice to his competitors that he'll be the man to beat this year.
Hildebrand was uncontested at the start, taking a several car length lead into the first corner, but trouble quickly ensued behind him. His Cape Motorsports teammate, Dane Cameron, spun to a stop, blocking the track and bringing out the event's only full course caution period. As the rest of the field filed through the corner, several cars were unable to avoid him, causing a chain reaction incident. The accident spoiled the prospect of a shootout between several rising open wheel stars by eliminating Doug Kniffin and Slade Miller on the spot.
On the restart, Hildebrand took advantage of being slightly quicker on cold tires and assumed a commanding lead and pulled away every lap at the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"After the restart I just tried to pull out a couple of quick laps to build a lead and then I just tried to maintain it from there," Hildebrand said. "Dane has been my main competition all weekend; we've been really close, only separated by a couple of tenths in every session. Once he was out, I just tried to bring it home for the win so I could start on the pole tomorrow. The track was even a lot slicker than we expected, due to all of the different types of rubber that have been laid down by the other series, so our lap times were slower."
As Hildebrand drove away from the field, an intense nose to tail battle between Noah Bystrom, Dominik Jackson, Andy Knight and Ricardo Vassmer took place for fifth place. The four drivers shadowed each other for the remaining distance and nobody seemed to have a clear advantage.
Back at the front, Jason Byers was able to out brake Chris Meredith at the end of the back straightaway to take second place with two laps to go, spoiling a Cape Motorsports one-two finish.
In the Gold Cup, Cole Morgan also extended his streak by taking his third win in a row. The Florida native was balked by the mêlée in at the start and had to fight back to regain the lead when Mark Defer of nearby Streetsboro, Ohio, experienced a mechanical problem.
"I got caught up in the accident in the first turn," Morgan said. "I had to stop and actually stalled the car and lost a position. I had to come back and I'm really excited to win my third race in a row."
Race two of the Cooper Series at Mid-Ohio promises to be a very competitive event with many of the top drivers starting at the tail end of the field as a result of the first lap incident. With the starting grid determined by race one's finishing order, the battle at the back of the pack might be the one to watch.