Podlesni Rounds Out the Pacific F2000 Season With a Perfect Pair in Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev. (October 15, 2006) -- Robert Podlesni put an exclamation point on his year in the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires by guiding Dave...
Podlesni Rounds Out the Pacific F2000 Season With a Perfect Pair in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev. (October 15, 2006) -- Robert Podlesni put an exclamation point on his year in the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires by guiding Dave Freitas Racing's Alpinestars/Elan Motor Tech Van Diemen to another pair of well-judged victories this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 18-year-old rising star from Thousand Oaks, Calif., took the pole on both days at the 1.8-mile road course and was only prevented from scoring a maximum 68 points by Tim Harris, from Irvine, Calif., who bounced back from a spin on Saturday to finish hot on Podlesni's tail -- and claim the two bonus points for posting the fastest race lap -- on Sunday in his Ray Stephens Racing-prepped #20 Apex Fire Systems/Carson Trailer/Mihms Truck Repair Mygale.
The two victories saw Podlesni take his win tally on the year to six (out of 12 races). "Poodles" also ensured a clean sweep of the major awards by adding the Summer Cup (awarded to the driver scoring most points in the second half of the season) to the Spring Cup he secured earlier in the year.
"It was a great weekend," concluded Podlesni, who had clinched the overall championship crown last month at Infineon Raceway.
"The race today was cool," he added," because I learned a lot about racecraft. I was watching my mirrors, and [team owner] Dave Freitas was giving me the gaps [to the second-placed Harris] on the radio. I knew if I pushed at 110 percent for the whole race I'd burn off the tires, so I just tried to run a pace where I knew I would keep the car underneath me and still have something [in hand] in case [Harris] got too close at the end."
Podlesni judged his pace perfectly. The gap between the two leaders was a scant 0.557 seconds at the checkered flag. Harris, though, was relatively content with his second-place finish.
"I tucked in behind Robert and the two of us took off [from the rest]," said Harris, who thereby clinched second place in the overall standings after a fine season. "We were never separated by more than a few tenths [of a second]. I couldn't quite get close enough to make a move [for the lead] but it feels good to get a second and finish second in the championship."
Pat Barrett, from Los Osos, Calif., couldn't quite match his sensational debut last month at his "home" track, Infineon Raceway, where he claimed a pair of wins. Still, a pair of third-place finishes aboard Team G.FRO's #32 Go-Pro Camera/Russell Racing/Kolliner-Long Gallery Van Diemen RF05 underlined his extraordinary promise.
"We didn't quite have the performance in the car [to challenge for the wins] but I'd say it was a good weekend to get two podium finishes," said the 17-year-old who recently clinched the 2005 Formula Russell Championship.
Saturday afternoon's race saw Podlesni again lead from flag to flag. Once again, though, he was made to work hard for his laurels. Barrett ran second in the early stages before being passed by Huntington Beach, Calif.'s Nick Haye (#4 PR1 Motorsports Mygale), who chased down Podlesni and finished just 0.662 sec in arrears after 16 laps.
"It was a lot of fun," said Haye. "I'm really happy with the result."
Haye wasn't quite content on Sunday, when, after qualifying a very close second, he found his car underperforming in the race, dropping him to fifth at the finish.
Peter Hansel, from Huntington Beach, Calif., drove well to take the Masters honors (for drivers over 40 years of age) on Saturday, finishing sixth overall. On Sunday, Hansel handed over the #96 Comar Performance Van Diemen RF02 to co-owner Jeremy Shaw, from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., who completed a satisfying weekend for the pair by also scooping a clear victory in the Masters category with a seventh-place finish.
Another Huntington Beach, Calif., resident, Dennis Goughary (#24 Shamrock Investments Carbir), was the top National class driver (using cars conforming to SCCA Formula Continental specification) in 11th after race-long class leader Tom Hope, from Anaheim, Calif., experienced engine problems in the closing stages. Hope gained his revenge on Sunday, guiding his #10 H&H Motorsports Van Diemen to 12th overall and securing the Nordskog Hard Charger Award along the way.