Westphal Clinches Title; Cameron Scores Stunning Victory in Pacific F2000 Finale Las Vegas, Nev. (October 19, 2008) -- Jeff Westphal rounded out a stellar season by clinching the Terminal Velocity Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by...
Westphal Clinches Title; Cameron Scores Stunning Victory in Pacific F2000 Finale
Las Vegas, Nev. (October 19, 2008) -- Jeff Westphal rounded out a stellar season by clinching the Terminal Velocity Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tire with a conservative third-place finish on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Westphal then cemented his authority by romping to a dominant victory on Sunday with the #39 Cacci Construction/TNT Demolition/PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen.
Westphal's ninth victory of the season established a new standard, breaking the previous record of eight set by last year's champion Patrick Barrett.
Dane Cameron also underlined his class by making a one-off return to the series on Saturday (in place of the absent Chuck Hulse, who was busy clinching the Star Mazda Masters Series title at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca), and emerging with an emphatic victory aboard the #21 Silicon Salvage/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen.
Saturday's race was completely dominated by Cameron, from Sonoma, Calif., who won a Team USA Scholarship in 2006, won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship and has been a front-runner in this year's Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Cameron celebrated his 20th birthday by qualifying on the pole by a margin of 0.859 seconds and quickly leaving the pack in his wake. Cameron's eventual winning margin was 6.509 seconds.
"More than anything, I wanted to have a good car for Chuck [to race on Sunday]," said Cameron. "Compared to the Atlantic car which is a lot bigger and heavier, the F2000 car is light and nimble and it's really fun to chuck it around. I had a great time and it was really good to give Dave Freitas and the boys a win for all the hard work they've put in."
Robert Podlesni (#84 Terminal Velocity/Alpinestars/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen), from Thousand Oaks, Calif., overcame a brake issue to finish second -- for the seventh time this season -- while Westphal was content to follow home in third place to secure his championship crown.
"We obviously wanted to go for the win but we had the bigger picture in our heads, so our ultimate goal [on Saturday] was just to finish well and preserve the championship lead," said Westphal. "Sometimes you have to take one in the short term to get one in the long term."
Nick Freytag, 17, from Paradise Valley, Ariz., finished fourth in the #9 Sodi Kart/G-Phactory Van Diemen, followed by PR1 Motorsports teammates Shaun Modisette (#26 Carson Trailer Van Diemen), from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and Max Hyatt (#22 Performance Drink Van Diemen), from Santa Fe, N.M.
On Sunday, with the championship already clinched -- and Cameron back on the sidelines, reverting to his duties as a driver coach -- Westphal once again displayed the form that had seen him reap maximum points (30 for the victory and two apiece for the pole and posting fastest race lap) from six of the previous 10 races.
After a red-flag stoppage following a first-lap accident involving Modisette, Hyatt and Peter Hansel (#65 GS610 Brake Fluid/Comar Performance Van Diemen), Westphal took off into the lead and was never seriously challenged.
"The car was fantastic and it was a blast to drive," said Westphal. "It's been a great year. Not coming from a background in karting, I feel like [the championship] solidifies my place on the map."
Podlesni's braking problems from Saturday returned with a vengeance and eventually caused him to pull out of the race. Freytag, unfortunately, misjudged his attempt to pass the ailing Podlesni and spun at Turn Three. He returned to the fray and worked his way back into fourth place before spinning again in Turn Six.
Hyatt was elevated to second place, despite running without a rear wing following the opening-lap melee. He managed to stave off a race-long challenge from Santa Monica's Scott Rarick (#34 Piper/Fast Forward/Red Line Oil Piper DF5), only to be disqualified for the fact his team worked on repairing the car during the red-flag stoppage.
"For me, it was still a great race and a lot of fun," said Hyatt. "It doesn't take the second away from my heart."
"I'm actually disappointed for him [about the disqualification]," added Rarick. "He did a great job."
Chuck Hulse emerged to take a well-deserved podium finish and the Masters class honors after passing DFR teammate and Expert class winner Ira Fierberg (#27 Personal Injury Law/Sparco USA Van Diemen).