MORGAN WINS AT ROAD ATLANTA
Florida driver takes second race of F2000 doubleheader
BRASELTON, GA. (May 12, 2007) - Cole Morgan, driving a borrowed car, captured the win in Round Four of the F2000 Championship Series at Road Atlanta on Sunday. Standing alongside the St. Clair Motorsports race winner in the victory lane celebrations were Andersen Racing rookie Juliana Gonzalez and Kevin Firlein Motorsports driver Rob Nicholas.
For a second consecutive day, the F2000 Championship Series race commenced in sunny and hot conditions at Road Atlanta. Starting from the front-row Matt McDonough and Gonzalez led the field into turn one. Going three-wide under braking, McDonough managed to hold off Gonzalez, while Keegan Van Sicklen passed Morgan for third place. Behind the multi-car fight for the lead, things went less smoothly. Doug Prendeville contacted Noah Bystrom, resulting in Bystrom going off-course and Prendeville losing the front-nose and wing assembly to his PMC Racing entry. With the debris in a dangerous position, the yellow flags waved around the course, just as the front of the field approached the start/finish.
After circulating behind the pace car for a pair of laps, the race resumed on lap four. Accelerating down the hill to the start/finish on the restart, McDonough had a good lead over Gonzalez and Morgan by the time they reached turn one. Finding a way past Gonzalez early in the lap, Morgan quickly reeled in McDonough. Getting alongside exiting the chicane, the Florida native passed the reigning champion for the lead right before crossing the stripe. Attacking the 2.5-mile road course, Morgan established a sizeable lead by the completion of the next lap. Behind the race leader, Gonzalez recovered from a poor re-start, passing McDonough for second place. With the order now Morgan, McDonough, Gonzalez, Nicholas and Van Sicklen in a VS Racing entry, the gap between the top-four expanded with each passing lap. As the race entered the closing stages, the only battle of note at the front involved Van Sicklen coming under increased pressure Andersen Racing driver Terrick Mansur. While lapped traffic in the final laps allowed those drivers in top-five to close one another, Mansur was the only driver able to pass for position. Morgan, driving the car Jason Byers previously raced to a podium finish, crossed the stripe 1.572s ahead of Gonzalez to score his first series win.
Immediately following the waving of the checkered flag, McDonough was penalized 10-seconds for jumping the re-start, promoting Nicholas into third place. Mansur came home fourth, while McDonough in his GTP Motorsports car was fifth following his penalty. Jeff McCusker was awarded the Hard Charger, advancing 11 spots in the race.
The F2000 Championship Series continues its second season racing with Rounds Five and Six, June 9-10, Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. Entering the doubleheader McDonough leads the championship standings by 26 points over Mansur. Bystrom is third in the standings.