Westphal Seeks to Clinch the TVP Pacific F2000 Title in Las Vegas
Buttonwillow, Calif. (October 13, 2008) -- Jeff Westphal needs only to muster seven points from the final two races of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to clinch the Terminal Velocity Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tire.
The 22-year-old racer from San Carlos, Calif., endured a disappointing start to his campaign when an electrical gremlin forced him to begin the very first race almost a full lap in arrears. Since then he has been on a tear, winning eight out of nine races in the #39 Cacci Construction/TNT Demolition/PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen. Westphal is poised to break 2007 champion Patrick Barrett's record of eight wins in a single Pacific F2000 season.
Nevertheless, 2006 Pacific F2000 champion Robert Podlesni remains in mathematical contention after an equally consistent season which has included eight podium finishes aboard Dave Freitas Racing's #84 Terminal Velocity Processing/Alpinestars Van Diemen. Podlesni needs to win both races to keep his aspirations alive.
"I am definitely not on cruise control," declares Westphal. "I know that Robert wants to win just as much as I do. I have been preparing for this event for quite some time, so my plan is to put my head down and run session to session like we have been all year -- giving it 110 percent. That's all we can do."
Podlesni, meanwhile, is focused simply on winning races.
"I want to finish my season with some wins," says Podlesni, 20, from Thousand Oaks, Calif. "The last weekend of the year is always a good time with some great racing and of course the series banquet. Whatever happens this weekend, I've had a tremendous time."
Aside from the overall championship, several other scores will be settled during this weekend's two 30-minute races which will be held in conjunction with VARA's Jeff Saltman Memorial Race Sponsored by Bounty Hunter at the 1.8-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course.
For example, both PR1 Motorsports teammates Nick Freytag (#9 G Phactory/Sodi Kart Van Diemen), from Paradise Valley, Ariz. -- the youngest series regular at age 17 -- and 21-year-old Shaun Modisette (#26 Carson Trailer Van Diemen), from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., remain in contention for second place in the championship.
Both the Masters (for drivers aged over 51) and Expert titles (between ages 35 and 50) also remain unsettled.
In the Masters category, defending champion Chuck Hulse, from Yorba Linda, Calif., holds an 18-point margin over Peter Hastrup, from Fresno, Calif., who has been racing in F2000 since its inception as a professional category in the United States in 1991.
"It's going to be a busy weekend but I'm really looking forward to it," says Hulse, who in addition to seeking his ninth Masters win with the #21 Silicon Salvage/DFR Van Diemen, will be racing in the Star Mazda Championship season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday.
Hulse, incidentally, finished third and fourth overall in the two most recent F2000 races in Utah.
"It will take a miracle to catch Chuck but I am looking forward to a strong showing in Las Vegas after a good test at Buttonwillow a few weeks back," says Hastrup, who has finished every race this season among the top nine with the #5 Western Building Materials/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen.
Ira Fierberg, from Manhattan Beach, Calif., holds a healthy advantage in his quest for a second successive Experts title, but he still has another goal in sight.
"I am pleased that we head to the last race without concern for championship points," says Fierberg, who drives the #27 Personal Injury Law/Sparco USA/DFR Van Diemen. "I hope to break (into) the top-five which remains our remaining unfulfilled goal from the year."