WHELDON, CAMIRAND TO DECIDE F2000 TITLE THIS WEEKEND AT SEBRING; DOUBLEHEADER LIVE ON SPEEDVISION
FAIRFIELD, N.J. (October 12, 1999)—After seven months and 12 races, the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision comes down to two races and two young drivers battling for the title at Sebring International Raceway this weekend, October 15-17. For the first time since 1996, the U.S. F2000 action can be seen live on the Speedvision Network, beginning Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and Sunday at 11:00 a.m. This season, the U.S. F2000 featured a championship-within-a-championship with the Indy Racing League sponsored Road to Indy Oval Crown on the series' five oval events. The most recent round at Pikes Peak International Raceway saw English rookie sensation Dan Wheldon dominate and take the Road To Indy Oval Crown title. He also jumped ahead of Canadian Marc-Antoine Camirand in the overall points championship (253 to 248), to be decided this weekend at a Sebring doubleheader. With the exception of two mechanical failures at Road Atlanta and a rare mistake at Mosport International Raceway, Dan Wheldon has been near perfect this season, scoring nine podium finishes and four wins in the 12 races thus far. Driving the No. 5 Jayhard/Primus Racing Van Diemen Ford, Wheldon, 21, holds a slim, five-point lead over Camirand coming to the finale. Camirand, who won the 1998 Rookie of the Year crown at age 18, would like nothing better than to wrap-up the championship and close a great Formula Ford career, which also saw him win the 1997 Canadian Formula Ford title before moving to F2000 cars and the No. 96 Key Motorsport Van Diemen Ford. Camirand and Wheldon have traded the point lead several times, and the Canadian has been the model of consistency for the series, completing all but five race laps en route to three wins. After a 1998 season which saw Australian David Besnard set records for points scored, wins, poles and money earned, the series has been treated to a great season of close racing in 1999, with several drivers planning a move to either the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Series or PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship for 2000. Third in points, with 195 and an outside shot at the overall title is Steve Rikert, of Rhinebeck, N.Y. Rikert (No. 4 Richard Morgan Racing Van Diemen Ford) set the record for the fastest race in series history (145.986 mph) at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his first-career win. Other drivers looking to jump up in the points include Bobby Oergel (No. 19 DSTP Motorsports/Quicksilver Mygale Ford), who sits fourth, with 172; T.J. Bell (No. 23 El Dorado/Bell Helmets/Cape/MiR Van Diemen Ford), fifth, 168; Mark E. Dismore (No. 13 Monster.com Van Diemen Ford), sixth, 156; Daniel Muniz (No. 7 Texaco-Havoline/Visa Aval Van Diemen Ford), seventh, 147; and Jonathan Bottoms (No. 3 Roppe Corp./Team Great Northern Van Diemen Ford), eighth, 145. Several drivers outside of the top point-scorers on the season could crack victory circle at Sebring, including Mexican Rolando Quintanilla (No. 40 Tecate/Quaker State/Transportes Quintanilla Van Diemen Ford), Road Atlanta winner Andy Lally (No. 72 Tyrolean Auto Sport Carbir Ford) and Mid-Ohio-winner Jeff Wright (No. 24 Jetboy/Casabella Van Diemen Ford), who is an Irish protege of Formula One star Eddie Irvine.