F2000 BACK TO OVALS, CHARLOTTE DOUBLE ON DECK

FAIRFIELD, N.J. (July 21) - After six straight road course races, the U.S. F2000 National Championship returns to the high banks of Charlotte Motor Speedway for two races on the IRL VisionAire 500k Weekend, July 23-25.

The U.S. F2000 boasts the top up-and-coming drivers in open-wheel racing competing in 150 horsepower, 150 mph Ford two-liter formula race cars, providing the complete motorsports education to drivers and mechanics. The U.S. F2000 joins the IRL for the second-straight year at the 1.6-mile CMS modified oval, and serves as the top support event with a 30-lap, 48.0-mile sprint race both Friday and Saturday. Both races will be nationally televised on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN2 Tuesday, August 25 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) and Sunday, August 30 at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) respectively.

Australian David Besnard has steam-rolled the competition this year in the No. 13 Primus Racing Karts Van Diemen Ford, and comes to Charlotte as the leader of both the National Championship (227 points) and Oval Crown Championship (64 points) standings. Besnard won the two previous oval races this season (Walt Disney World Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway) on his way to five total wins this season.

Second in the National Championship and Oval Crown Championship are the Tatuuses of Ryan Hampton and Robby McGehee. McGehee started the season off with a bang, leading 48 of the 50 laps at Disney and finishing second to Besnard at Phoenix. McGehee (No. 2 VisionAire/Energizer Tatuus Ford) earned his first-career win on the Homestead road course in round four, and currently sits second in the Oval Crown Championship, nine points behind Besnard with 55. McGehee sits third in the National Championship, with 152 points.

Second in the National Championship with 190 points thus far, Hampton has been Mr. Consistency, with his only finish outside of the top-10 coming with an 11th at Disney. Since then, Hampton has taken one win, two seconds, one third and three other top-fives. Last year, Hampton became the fastest race-winner in series history at Charlotte, completing the first half of the double-header with an average speed of 130.407 mph in his year-old Van Diemen. On the back end of the doubleheader, Andrea De Lorenzi beat Hampton in a new Tatuus, which displayed superior aerodynamics. This year, Hampton has the seat De Lorenzi vacated upon moving up to the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, and plans to have the No. 88 American Instruments/Body Abuse Tatuus Ford at the front of the pack.

Fourth in the National Championship (148 points) and third in the Oval Crown (45 points), is 1997 Rookie of the Year Andy Lally (No. 5 Maida/Red Line Oil/Highcroft Racing Bowman Ford). Lally has six top-10s this season, including three thirds and two fifths, and looks to move up to the top-spot on the podium for the first time in his career.

Former MTV Real World cast member Mike Johnson is having the best of his three F2000 seasons this year, and has surged to fifth in the National Championship points with strong runs in the last six races. Johnson has six top-10s in the No. 8 PCG/Valvoline/Slick Eyewear Van Diemen Ford, and had a podium finish lined up at the most recent round in Minneapolis before being bumped back to seventh with four laps to go.

Key Motorsports has high hopes for its first win of the year with drivers Marc-Antoine Camirand (No. 96 KeyTours Van Diemen Ford) and three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond (No. 51 autoconnect.com Van Diemen Ford). The two have two podium finishes each, and Camirand is a serious threat for the pole, as he has two on the season already.

Buffalo's Jonathan Bottoms (No. 28 Roppe/Team Great Northern Motorsports Van Diemen Ford) comes to Charlotte fourth in the Oval Crown and seventh in the National Championship on the strength of his first-career win at Minneapolis. Bottoms and Camirand are the top Rookie of the Year contenders, with Camirand one point ahead of Bottoms (111 to 110).