NA-F2000: Chris Meredith Road America summary

Meredith Finishes Fifth Two Years in a Row in FF2000 Action ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Sept. 25 - Finishing fifth in a series as competitive as the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship is hard...

Meredith Finishes Fifth Two Years in a Row in FF2000 Action

ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Sept. 25 - Finishing fifth in a series as competitive as the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship is hard enough.

Chris Meredith of Potomac, Md., has now done it two years in a row.

Driving the Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF02 No. 3 sponsored by Meredith International (MII), a security consulting firm, as well as the Bertil Roos Racing School, the 19-year-old driver ran into some bad luck in the first half of the season-ending doubleheader at Road America on Saturday but he finished a strong sixth on Sunday to place fifth in the national point standings after 14 events.

Along the way he finished on the podium three times this season and he was in the top five six times. In addition he qualified in the top five for every race except one.

That one race was Saturday's rainy contest on Road America's 4.048-mile road course, in which Meredith started 12th. He got off to a great start, advancing to eighth by the end of lap one. He passed Noah Bystrom for seventh on the next lap for seventh place. He moved up to fifth with three laps down when the leader, J.R. Hildebrand, went off course and Meredith got around Gerry Kraut.

Lap four was even better for Meredith, as he passed both Ricardo Vassmer and Jason Byers to nail down third place, trailing only the eventual winner, Dane Cameron, and the eventual runner-up, Steve Welk.

He was running comfortably in third when trouble struck with five laps down. An errant stone caused the car's throttle to stick, forcing Meredith to lock up the brakes and spin in Turn One. He ended up stuck in a gravel trap, his race over.

Two laps later a full-course yellow came out, it started to rain even heavier, and the scheduled 12-lap event was called complete with nine laps down. Meredith's official finishing position was 23rd.

"Cape Motorsports gave me a fantastic car for the rain," Meredith said afterwards. "We went from 12th to third and I was closing on Steve Welk, and then the throttle stuck and I went off in Turn One. A stone got lodged between the pedal and the pedal stop I think. But there for awhile we were getting a couple guys every lap."

The weather and Meredith's luck was much better on Sunday. He set the fifth-fastest lap of Saturday's race which would have earned him the fifth starting spot on Sunday, but he actually got to start fourth when Hildebrand lost the pole due to a penalty.

Meredith was flying at the start on Sunday, advancing as high as second initially before dropping to fifth by the end of lap one. Jason Byers got around him on lap two to push him to sixth, but he was back in fifth again two laps later when Dane Cameron ran into problems.

Noah Bystrom got around him with eight laps down to make Meredith sixth again, and that's where he was running when the checkered waved after a dozen trips around the 4.048-mile road course.

"The car was a little loose at the beginning, but I knew I had to finish in the top five or just outside it," Meredith said after the race. "I would have had to have a much better weekend to pull off third in the points, and after Saturday's race I didn't want to risk wrecking my car, which is already sold, and jeopardizing fifth in the points. The car was oversteering too much to do any better than sixth today, but overall it's been a pretty good year. I want to thank everyone at Cape Motorsports - Dominic, Nicolas, Dean, Corey and Don - for all their help this year. They gave me the best car that they could, and I really appreciate it.

"Now I'm going to focus on the Star Mazda race at Road Atlanta on Friday," he added. "It'll be my first Star Mazda race ever, but hopefully I can score a good finish there.

"I hope to test as much as possible in the off-season," he added. "I really want to advance to the Indy Pro Series next year. That's what I really want to do, but we'll have to wait and see.

"I think my qualifying improved a lot this year," he added. "Overall I think the most important thing I learned was how to be more aggressive yet conservative at the same time. I improved in learning how to drive the car to its limits, not under or over them."

The Road America FF2000 doubleheader supported a Champ Car World Series headliner.

For more information see Meredith's Web site at chrismeredithracing.com; the team's Web site at capemotorsports.com and the series' Web site at cooperseries.com. For Meredith's results in this coming weekend's Star Mazda race at Road Atlanta, see andersenracingteam.com and starmazda.com.

-credit: restart communications

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