LEXINGTON, OHIO (June 9, 2001)â€“Tonis Kasemets, of Mundelein, Ill., won Round Seven of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Doug Bell, of St. Albans, England and Travis Irving, of Chino ...
LEXINGTON, OHIO (June 9, 2001)–Tonis Kasemets, of Mundelein, Ill., won Round Seven of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Doug Bell, of St. Albans, England and Travis Irving, of Chino Hills, Calif., completed the top-three. Billy Hagar, of Tuttle, Okla., won the ACC class.
Following two qualifying sessions earlier in the day, for race one and two, the green flag fell in the afternoon under ideal conditions. As a few cars made contact on the back straight, Kasemets held the lead into the esses. The race quickly went full-course yellow on lap two for No. 33 Paul Dana’s rear wing on the back straight and No. 81 Carl Russo and No. 87 Mike Potekhen going off-course in the keyhole. On the restart, Kasemets, driving the No. 6 MK Ind/Flexovit/TMI/TAC.com Van Diemen Ford, lead Irving and Bell into turn one. Within three laps the lead trio had pulled out a sizeable gap on fourth place. As the race progressed Kasemets began to work with Bell and slowly pulled away from Irving. In the closing stages, Bell closed on Kasemets, as he made a few mistakes. At the checkered flag, Kasemets held off Bell to win his first U.S. F2000 race by 0.326 second. After leading flag to flag, Kasemets will attempt two sweep the doubleheader when he starts from pole for Round Eight on Sunday.
“This is the sweetest win of my career,” said Kasemets. “The start was beautiful. The guys up front didn’t do anything crazy and we raced clean. I pushed very hard every lap, but made a few mistakes which allowed Doug [Bell] to close. I think this proves that I can run up front from start to finish. If I can do the same tomorrow it will be a dream weekend.”
At the start of the race, Bell maintained his fourth place position. Following the full-course caution, he got a great jump and passed Irving for second place in the esses. Driving the No. 3 Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, slowly closed on Kasemets, and at various occasions pressured for position. Bell was never able to make a good attempt for the lead and captured his podium finish since the season-opener, which he won.
“Tonis [Kasemets] didn’t give me an real opportunity to go for the win,” said Bell. “Obviously I would’ve like to have won, but finishing second is good and helps close the gap in the championship. Tomorrow I might push a little harder in the late stages in the race.”
In his first-ever U.S. F2000 race, Irving drove like a seasoned veteran. At the start, Irving passed Jason LaPoint to move into second place. Following the lap five restart, Irving lost the position to Bell, put stayed in contact with the leaders. As the lead duo began to pull away, Irving, driving the No. 85 Great Central transport/Primus Racing West Van Diemen Ford, held off a hard charging Billy Asaro. At the checkered flag Irving had captured a podium finish in his first-ever start.
“Finishing on the podium in my first pro race is awesome,” said Irving. “My crew chief told me these guys are the best, and to see him so happy after the race is special. Maybe tomorrow I can do even better.”
Driving the No. 4 Hagar Restaurant Service Van Diemen Ford, Hagar once again worked his way through the field to win the ACC class. Hagar fought various national championship drivers for position all race long to capture his third class win in four races. For his strong drive, Hagar was awarded the Pi Research Hard Charger award.
“To win after the start we had this weekend is great,” said Hagar. “We’ve been getting faster every session on track. I hope it continues tomorrow as I want to keep winning and build a gap in the championship.”
Completing the top-five was Billy Asaro, of Unionville, Ont. and LaPoint, of Woodburn, Ore. Asaro, the championship point leader, was awarded the Truechoice Drive of The Day award for his race. Paul Dana, of Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded the Taylor Engineering “Shark” award, after he moved up 11 positions in the race.