NA-F2000: Pacific F2000 Fontana preview

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Local Driver Tim Harris Looks for Pacific F2000 Success at California Speedway Buttonwillow, Calif. (March 13, 2006) -- Tim Harris, from Irvine, Calif., will be among the favorites for top honors when the Pacific F2000 Championship returns to ...

Local Driver Tim Harris Looks for Pacific F2000 Success at California Speedway

Buttonwillow, Calif. (March 13, 2006) -- Tim Harris, from Irvine, Calif., will be among the favorites for top honors when the Pacific F2000 Championship returns to action this weekend at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. A pair of 30-minute contests will be held as part of VARA's Route 66 Classic Concours and Road Races, which will feature a guest appearance by American racing legend Al Unser.

Harris took his #20 Apex Fire Systems/Carson Trailer/Ray Stephens Racing Mygale SJ05 to a fine second-place finish behind gifted Englishman Dominik Jackson in the opening race of the season last month at Phoenix International Raceway, then passed Jackson in the closing stages of the second race to secure his first-ever Pacific F2000 victory. With Jackson unlikely to contest the entire season, Harris is now perfectly poised to mount a concerted attack on the championship crown.

"It was definitely an accomplishment to have gotten a victory over such a talented driver, not to mention the series regulars and their teams," says Harris, who finished fifth in the 2005 championship standings. "Our goal is to put our Mygale on the podium every race this season, and the championship will take care of itself."

Harris snared a pair of top-four finishes at California Speedway last year and says the 2.8-mile combined oval/road course is among his favorite venues: "Living in Southern California, this is my home track. It's an awesome facility and I want to thank VARA for inviting the Pacific F2000 series to join them here again.

"I definitely enjoy running at Fontana," continues Harris. "Flatten out the wing and stand on the gas! We see our highest top speeds of the entire year. Three wide at 140mph on the oval is awesome!"

Other favored Southern California contenders will include 18-year-old Robert Podlesni, who finished third in both races at the P.I.R. season opener aboard Dave Freitas Racing's #84 Van Diemen RF03; Nick Haye, also 18, from Huntington Beach, Calif., who took a pair of top-10s in Arizona on his debut with last year's championship-winning team, PR1 Motorsports; and series veteran John Lombardo Jr., from Brea, Calif., who is keen to add to his pair of top-five finishes from Phoenix with the #30 Napa Auto Parts/Valvoline/Denso Van Diemen, run by the San Clemente, Calif.-based G.FRO (Geoff Fickling Racing Operation) team.

Tom Hope, from Whittier, Calif., will be one of the leading National class contenders in his family-run #10 H&H Motorsports Van Diemen, although he is likely to face stiff opposition from another Van Diemen, driven by experienced Arizona campaigner Ted Guenther, and Mike Rodney, from Lafayette, Colo., who drives an Italian-built Tatuus chassis.

Bob Negron (#25 Fengshui5.com Van Diemen RF99), from San Jose, Calif., and Les Phillips (#89 Swiss Motorsports Mygale SJ04) shared the Masters Class honors (for drivers over 40 years of age) at Phoenix, but will most likely be pushed to their limits by a variety of contenders for this "race within a race."

The Pacific F2000 Championship features modern, purpose-built, single-seat, open-wheel race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines or the slightly older, carbureted, 2.0-liter Ford Pinto "National" engines, both of which produce around 150 horsepower. The cars weigh in at just 1,190 lbs, employ "slick" (treadless) Hankook racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140mph.

Formula Ford 2000 represents one of the first rungs on the professional open-wheel auto racing ladder in North America, although its roots stretch back to England in the middle 1970s. Alumni include Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill, Champ Car World Series champions Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy, as well as the two most recent Indianapolis 500 champions, Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon.

At least 25 cars are expected for this weekend's races, which will take place at 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 18, and 2:50 pm on Sunday. Admission to California Speedway costs just $10 for the entire weekend.

-www.pacificf2000.com

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