Podlesni, Hyatt Lead Four-Man Battle For Pacific F2000 Honors at Las Vegas Finale
Buttonwillow, Calif. (October 13, 2009) -- Four drivers hold a mathematical chance of winning the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Terminal Velocity Processing as the season concludes with a pair of 30-minute races as part of VARA's Jeff Saltman Memorial this coming weekend, October 17/18, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course.
The two primary contenders, Robert Podlesni and Max Hyatt, have been locked in combat since the first race of the season in March at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. Podlesni, the 2006 series champion, holds a slender advantage, 269-259, but with a total of 64 points up for grabs -- and the plethora of potential scenarios complicated by the fact that each driver will discard his worst score from the 12-race season -- there is still everything to play for.
"It's a tossup for the championship," says Podlesni, 21, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who has won twice in the #84 Terminal Velocity Processing/Alpinestars/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen and has finished on the podium in each of the last nine races. Podlesni also has a series-high five poles to his credit. "I am going to attack the last race as I have every race; I have not even begun to think about the points as the key to any championship is racing clean and smart."
Hyatt, 22, from Santa Fe, N.M., hasn't quite been able to match Podlesni's consistency but he has amassed an impressive five wins, seven podiums and three poles from the 10 races held thus far.
"It is exciting to be fighting for the championship going into the last round," says Hyatt, who will pilot the familiar #23 Performance Drink Van Diemen for Fresno, Calif.-based PR1 Motorsports, which is seeking its third straight Pacific F2000 title. "Whoever performs better this weekend will undoubtedly take the title. I think we will be very competitive and it will be a tough fight."
Hyatt has enjoyed a busy and productive year. In addition to his Pacific F2000 exploits, he graduated from Santa Clara University in June and made his Rolex Sports Car Series debut aboard the PR1 team's GT-class BMW M6.
Hyatt's PR1 teammates, Shaun Modisette and Scott Rarick, also have an outside chance to wrest away the title.
Modisette, 22, from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., began his campaign with a pair of impressive wins at Fontana, but has yet to recover that form. He nevertheless lies third in points with 217 and is far from throwing in the towel.
"I am a little disappointed to be where I am in points after the start of the year that we had, but you can never complain about third in points," says Modisette. "I am looking to finish the season on a strong note, hopefully ending it in the same fashion that I started. I know PR1 is going to have a great car out of the box for me. It's a matter dialing it in and maximizing what we have."
Rarick, from Santa Monica, Calif., already has secured the Expert class honors for drivers aged 35-50. The former SCCA Formula Ford National Champion qualified his #34 PR1 Van Diemen on pole for the most recent race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and has one race win to his credit, at Buttonwillow Raceway in May.
"Running with PR1 is a great privilege -- the team's depth of knowledge and talent is enormous," says Rarick, who lies 60 points behind the championship leader. "The Expert title was not really my goal but it's an honor nonetheless. It does remind us how good the competition is in our series that even the vets are dialed and hard to beat! I wish I had a better shot at the overall points, which was my goal, but a couple little hiccups here and there are all it takes to shake things one way or the other."
Veteran Peter Hastrup (#5 Western Building Materials/Nuttall, Brown & Coutts/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen), from Madera, Calif., holds a commanding lead in the Masters division (for drivers over 51), although San Jose, Calif.'s Bob Negron (#8 Fengshui5 Van Diemen) topped the class in the two most recent races. Hastrup, in his 30th season of racing, celebrated his 60th birthday in June but remains a consistent top-five performer, with a best finish this year of third at Buttonwillow.