NA-F2000: Pacific: Utah race notes

Barrett Strengthens Lead While PR1 Teammate Merrill Claims First Win Tooele, Utah (July 15, 2007) -- The PR1 Motorsports team put on another clinic as the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires enjoyed a successful debut at the ...

Barrett Strengthens Lead While PR1 Teammate Merrill Claims First Win

Tooele, Utah (July 15, 2007) -- The PR1 Motorsports team put on another clinic as the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires enjoyed a successful debut at the stunning Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

Patrick Barrett, 17, from Los Osos, Calif., extended his championship lead by winning from the pole on Friday in his #3 Jim Russell Racing School/Alpinestars Van Diemen, while rookie Thomas Merrill, 21, from Salinas, Calif., turned the tables the following afternoon to score an emphatic maiden victory in the #81 Merrill Farms/Smith & Hook Wineries/Ron Sutton Winner's Circle Van Diemen.

Chuck Hulse, 54, from Yorba Linda, Calif., secured the top Masters award (for drivers over 50) on each day, including an impressive second-place finish on Friday in Team G.FRO's #19 Silicon Salvage Van Diemen.

Barrett bested a strong 22-car field in the series' seventh round of the season. The opening race was marred by several incidents and full-course cautions, but each time he was able to maintain his superiority before emerging with his fifth win of the campaign.

"Very satisfying," summarized the youngster succinctly. "One thing that was pretty radical was the rubber laid down by the [NASCAR Grand National West] stock cars [which topped the weekend schedule]. It really changed the track but I felt very confident about the car. I played my cards right and everything worked out well."

Hulse profited from a first-corner melee to jump into second place after lining up a disappointed eighth on the grid. He lost a couple of positions when he slid wide in Turn One following a restart, whereupon the sprint car veteran put his extensive racing experience to full use as he regained second by the finish.

"I just had so much fun," said Hulse, grinning from ear to ear. "The waters opened for me at the first turn, and after my mistake [at the restart], it was just put my head down and go!"

Merrill battled back from a couple of early dramas to wrest third place from San Carlos, Calif.'s Jeff Westphal (#39 MCGC/DG Flooring/G.FRO Van Diemen) after the pair battled side-by-side through the final three turns.

Saturday's race was rather less eventful -- and unencumbered by yellows -- as Merrill made full use of his second pole of the year to eke out an early advantage, which he parlayed into a well-deserved first win.

"All the hard work we did, testing and building up to this race, really paid off," said Merrill. "PR1 made the car really good to drive, really consistent, and it was a dream to drive. Early on I was worried about Pat [Barrett] because he's always tough, but toward the end I settled into conservation mode and just brought it home. This means the world to me. I've led but never won [before], so it's good to get over that hump and hopefully now it'll be a little easier."

Merrill's pair of podium finishes vaulted him from fourth to second in the overall points table. He now trails Barrett by 235 to 160 with four races remaining, and holds a commanding lead in the rookie standings.

Philip Metzger started and finished a strong third in the #29 Phoebe Hair/Sovereign Energy/Team G.FRO Van Diemen. The 18-year-old from Littleton, Colo., took the checkered flag well clear of Auckland, New Zealand native Mitchell Cunningham aboard Dave Freitas Racing's #99 Windward Properties/Robert Cunningham Construction/Sniper Systems Van Diemen.

Hulse again provided much of the excitement, starting from the back after missing the qualifying session due to an overheated engine and rapidly worked his way toward the front. Hulse eventually finished seventh to secure the Nordskog Instruments Hard Charger Award.

San Jose, Calif.'s James Hakewill (#88 ARC International Van Diemen) claimed the Expert honors (for drivers aged 35-50) on Friday, but was prevented from starting Race 2 by an engine problem which manifested itself after several teams chipped in to rebuild the car following a crash in qualifying. Ira Fierberg (#27 Personal Injury Law/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen), from Hermosa Beach, Calif., was the highest finishing Expert on Saturday in 11th.

Three series debutants fought over National class honors, with Salt Lake City-based Brazilian Ivan Utrera (#6 Rodizio Grill Racing/Brazil USA Management Van Diemen) narrowly taking the honors on Friday ahead of Ed Chojin (#2 Centered Goaltending Van Diemen), from Boulder, Colo., and the second Rodizio Grill car of Terry Biner, from Sandy, Utah. Chojin -- who prepared his car singlehandedly -- rebounded to take the National class win on Saturday.

RESULTS -- Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah -- July 13/14, 2007:

Friday qualifying:
1. Patrick Barrett (Van Diemen RF05), 1m51.805s: 2. Thomas Merrill (Van Diemen RF05), 1m51.988s: 3. Philip Metzger (Van Diemen RF06), 1m52.738s: 4. Shaun Modisette (Van Diemen RF01), 1m53.175s: 5. Mitchell Cunningham (Van Diemen RF03), 1m53.316s: 6. James Hakewill (Van Diemen RF03), 1m54.426s: 7. Max Hyatt (Van Diemen RF02), 1m54.507s: 8. Chuck Hulse (Van Diemen RF03), 1m54.656s: 9. Jeff Westphal (Van Diemen RF05), 1m54.864s; 10. Nicky Freytag (Van Diemen RF06), 1m54.997s; 11. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF02), 1m55.097s; 12. Scott Rarick (Piper DF-5), 1m55.219s; 13. Bob Negron (Van Diemen R99), 1m55.378s; 14. Dwight Rider (Van Diemen RF01), 1m55.590s; 15. Jeremy Shaw (Van Diemen RF02), 1m56.443s; 16. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02), 1m56.505s; 17. Ira Fierberg (Van Diemen RF05), 1m56.570s; 18. Bill Kincaid (Van Diemen RF03), 1m57.116s; 19. Mark Felsen (Van Diemen RF01), 1m59.761s; 20. Ed Chojin (Van Diemen RF98 Pinto/Bradford), 2m02.775s; 21, Terry Biner (Van Diemen RF98 Pinto/Elite), 2m06.579s; 22. Ivan Utrera (Van Diemen RF04 Pinto/Elite), 2m09.566s. (All use Zetec/Quicksilver engines unless noted.)

Round 7 (14 laps):
1. Barrett, 32m17.804s; 2. Hulse, 32m21.579s; 3. Merrill, 32m21.939s; 4. Westphal, 32m22.079s; 5. Hyatt, 32m22.710s; 6. Metzger, 32m23.192s; 7. Spreitzer, 32m24.474s; 8. Hakewill, 32m24.569s; 9. Negron, 32m29.598s; 10. Fierberg, 32m29.030s*; 11. Rider, 32m30.348s; 12. Shaw, 32m30.729s; 13. Kincaid, 32m32.965s; 14. Hastrup, 32m35.289s; 15. Felsen, 32m50.586s; 16. Utrera, 32m50.824s; 17. Chojin, 32m51.626s; 18. Biner, 32m52.000s; 19. Modisette, 7 laps, not running/accident; 20. Cunningham, 7 laps, not running/accident; 21. Freytag, 3 laps, not running/electrical fire; DNS Rarick, did not start/fuel system.

* Fierberg moved back one position for passing under yellow (also stripped of Hard Charger Award)

Margin of victory: 3.775s
Winner's average speed: 79.275 mph

Fastest race lap: Patrick Barrett, 1m52.774, 97.299 mph (establishes record)

Nordskog Instruments Hard Charger Award: Chuck Hulse

Experts class winner (35-50): James Hakewill
Masters class winner (over 51): Chuck Hulse
National Class winner: Ivan Utrera

Saturday qualifying:
1. Merrill, 1m51.392s; 2. Barrett, 1m51.513s; 3. Metzger, 1m52.224s; 4. Cunningham, 1m52.765s; 5. Modisette, 1m53.424s; 6. Hyatt, 1m53.645s; 7. Spreitzer, 1m53.830s; 8. Freytag, 1m54.448s; 9. Hastrup, 1m54.496s; 10. Fierberg, 1m54.652s; 11. Rarick, 1m54.781s; 12. Shaw, 1m54.959s; 13. Negron, 1m54.984s; 14. Westphal, 1m55.289s; 15. Kincaid, 1m55.574s; 16. Rider, 1m56.493s; 17. Felsen, 1m57.465s; 18. Chojin, 2m01.407s; 19. Biner, 2m03.330s; 20. Utrera, no t ime; 21. Hulse, no time; 22. Hakewill, no time.

Round 8 (13 laps):
1. Merrill, 24m28.354s; 2. Barrett, 24m32.880s; 3. Metzger, 24m39.272s; 4. Cunningham, 24m45.931s; 5. Modisette, 24m54.973s; 6. Freytag, 24m57.071s; 7. Hulse, 25m00.987s; 8. Hyatt, 25m02.610s; 9. Westphal, 25m11.161s; 10. Hastrup, 25m13.115s; 11. Fierberg, 25m16.175s; 12. Kincaid, 25m26.230s; 13. Shaw, 25m34.328s; 14. Rider, 25m35.005s; 15. Felsen, 25m54.872s; 16. Chojin, 12 laps; 17. Biner, 12 laps; 18. Utrera, 12 laps; 19. Spreitzer, 1 lap, not running/suspension; DNS Negron, clutch; Rarick, fire; Hakewill, engine.

Margin of victory: 4.526s
Winner's average speed: 97.147 mph

Fastest race lap: Thomas Merrill, 1m52.254s, 97.750 mph (record)

Experts class winner (35-50): Ira Fierberg
Masters class winner (over 51): Chuck Hulse
National Class winner: Ed Chojin

Nordskog Instruments/Williams Racing Developments Hard Charger Award: Chuck Hulse

Williams Racing Developments "Gearing Up" Award: Max Hyatt

Unofficial point standings (after 8 of 12 rounds): 1. Barrett, 235; 2. Merrill, 160; 3. Spreitzer, 153; 4. Westphal, 140; 5. Cunningham, 141; 6. Hulse, 112; 7. Metzger, 110; 8. Modisette, 93; 9. Freytag, 93; 10. Hastrup, 81; etc.

-credit: www.pacificf2000.com

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jeremy Shaw , Ira Fierberg , Chuck Hulse , Thomas Merrill , Patrick Barrett , Max Hyatt , Jeff Westphal
Teams Williams