NA-F2000: Road America preview

Jay Howard Continues Cooper Series Title Pursuit at Road America St. Petersburg, Fla. (August 2, 2005) -- The Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars will bring its long tradition of excellence to Elkhart Lake's fast and ...

Jay Howard Continues Cooper Series Title Pursuit at Road America

St. Petersburg, Fla. (August 2, 2005) -- The Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars will bring its long tradition of excellence to Elkhart Lake's fast and challenging Road America circuit in Wisconsin this weekend (August 5-7), with rising English star Jay Howard seeking to continue his dominant form.

The 24-year-old from Basildon, Essex, England, has followed in the footsteps of so many of today's top drivers by initially displaying his prowess in karting. He graduated into Formula Ford in his homeland, and went on to win the 2003 Formula Renault UK Winter Series. When his plans to move on up the racing ladder in Europe were thwarted by a lack of funding, Howard decided to spread his wings to North America. A pair of Cooper Series race outings at Infineon Raceway in California in 2004 netted a third-place finish and a victory, after which he pledged to return for a full-fledged attack on the championship this year.

The results thus far have been sensational: After six races, Howard remains unbeaten in Marshall Aiken's #22 newhoneys.com/British Racing Drivers Club Van Diemen RF03.

"It's been a great start to the season, but that's what I was aiming for," says Howard. "I came here to America wanting to take the pole, the fastest lap and the win in every race.

"The six wins have been great and I want to continue the streak. I haven't been to Road America before but I've heard a lot about the place. Everyone tells me there's a lot of elevation change and that it's a real driver's track, so I'm really looking forward to it."

Howard's early-season dominance has enabled him to build a healthy lead in the point standings; but with eight races remaining there is plenty of time for his rivals to extract revenge. A variety of challengers have pushed him to the limit this year, and among those anxious to bring his win streak to an end in rural Wisconsin are his own Aiken Racing teammate, Christopher Guerrieri, from Pickering, Ont., Canada, who underscored his capabilities by winning the 2003 Canadian Formula Ford Championship, and another gifted young Englishman, Joey Foster, who drives for the same Cape Motorsports team that has won the title in three of the last five years.

Nick Haye, 17, from Huntington Beach, Calif., has displayed promising form in his first season of competition aboard the Think Together/Premier Bank/JDC Motorsports Van Diemen, while fellow Californian John Lombardo, from Brea, is sure to be another solid contender with P-1 Racing's Napa Auto Parts Van Diemen.

A strong contingent from Wisconsin and the surrounding states will seek to put their local knowledge to good use. Top names include Scott Rubenzer, from Brookfield, Wis., and Steve Thomson, from Minnetonka, Minn., as well as Cooper Gold Cup protagonists Walter Vollrath, from adjacent Elkhart Lake, Wis., Michael Wettstein, from Eau Claire, Wis., and Dan Bruggeman, from Minneapolis, Minn., who will be striving to knock current Cooper Gold Cup series leader Ricardo Vassmer, from Caracas, Venezuela, off his perch.

The Cooper Series is sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association and represents one of the first rungs on the professional open-wheel auto racing ladder in North America. It features modern, purpose-built, single-seat race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines, which produce around 170 hp, or the older, slightly less powerful, carbureted 2.0-liter Ford "Pinto" engines which will be vying for Cooper Gold Cup honors. All cars employ "slick" (treadless) Cooper Zeon racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140 mph.

Formula Ford 2000 originated in England in 1974. Alumni include Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill; Champ Car World Series title-winners Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy; Indy Racing League Champion Sam Hornish Jr.; and the past two Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon.

-www.cooperseries.com

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Dan Wheldon , Ayrton Senna , Damon Hill , Buddy Rice , Christopher Guerrieri , Steve Thomson , Dan Bruggeman , Jay Howard , Nick Haye , Sam Hornish Jr.