F2000: Title Fight Down to Mid-Ohio: Finale Preview
[150x101-images-stories-10season-mo-pre-carbone2.JPG] Carbone has been at the front of the title fight all year. (click for high-res). (photo: Janice Eakin). New York, NY -- One double-header event remains as the F2000 Championship Series heads to Mid-Ohio this weekend to decide the 2010 championship as the summer swing draws to a close. Thirty cars are entered and 17-year old sophomore driver Victor Carbone has been in control of the standings the entire way.
Carbone won the opening race of 2010 at VIR, and took two wins at Road Atlanta before notching single victories at Mosport, Lime Rock and Road America to make it six wins in 12 races. The Alegra Motorsports driver has a 79 point lead over Cole Morgan, with 110 points up for grabs at Mid-Ohio.
Carbone, from Brazil, is coming off a solid weekend at Road America. He piloted his #23 Van Diemen to a dominating victory in race one, and scored a solid top-ten in a wild race two that was won by Jonathan Scarallo.
"The plan for Mid-Ohio is to win the first race and thus take the championship on Saturday," said Carbone. "Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite tracks and I'm glad we have a lot of track time with Thursday twilight testing and practice sessions on Friday. That will let us develop a good setup for the races.
"For me, the potential to win the championship marks the result of a year of hard work, dedication and effort from not only me, but the entire Alegra team," added Carbone.
The only man that can mathematically take the title away from Carbone is Cole Morgan, the 2007 F2000 champion. Compared to Carbone's six victories on the year, Morgan only has two in his K-Hill Motorsports #1.
The first victory came at VIR, where Morgan inherited the lead after Daniel Erickson, who had gapped the field by a huge margin, lost a spark plug wire. Morgan's next victory came at Lime Rock when he was able to sneak by Stevan McAleer on a restart. Most recently, Morgan looked to have a solid podium run going at Road America before late race contact with Chris Livengood limited him to a fourth place finish.
Daniel Erickson sits third in points, and the rookie from Australia has missed four races this season. Erickson has been fast all year, winning both races at Watkins Glen, highlighted by a closing-stages wheel-to-wheel battle for the victory in round eight with Victor Carbone.
"I'm quite relaxed about Mid-Ohio," said Erickson, driving for Primus Racing/Quantum Mechanics. "Maybe the lack of pressure is because I'm not in contention for the championship win after missing four rounds, but I've been training hard in the four weeks since Road America and I'm ready to give my best at Mid-Ohio."
Jonathan Scarallo is coming off his first win at Road America which he took in dramatic fashion over Daniel Erickson, Cole Morgan and Chris Livengood in a highly-entertaining four-way battle for the lead. The young American, driving for R-Sport, will miss all of testing and practice at Mid-Ohio as he will be competing in the prestigious Team USA Scholarship shootout in Arizona.
"For the first time all year we finally have momentum on our side going into Mid-Ohio," commented Scarallo. "There is going to be no lack of competition but still the goal is to try and get to more wins before the season ends. I'm going to have to rely on my R-Sport teammate Keith McCrone to develop a good setup for the car."
Meanwhile, McCrone is coming off his best result ever, a third place at Road America and is in a three-way battle for the Masters Class championship. Phil Lombardi leads the Masters Class drivers, sitting fourth overall in the standings ahead of McCrone and Tim Minor. Just 40 points separate those three and McCrone has proved quick all year, and is currently leading the CellMark Paper Hard Charger award rankings for most positions improved.
Phil Lombardi, however, is seeking redemption and still looking for his first win of 2010: "It would sure be nice to win the last two races. The GTP car has been capable of winning this year, we just need to put the pieces together. If we can do that I think we have a very good chance to run at the front and challenge for the wins," Lombardi said.
A late entry filed by Audette Racing for Remy Audette makes the field even more competitive. Audette was a title contender last year, finishing third in the overall standings. This year, the Canadian has run a partial schedule which included a second-place effort at VIR and a runaway victory at Mosport.
"Last year, I came close to winning at Mid-Ohio," commented Audette. "This time, I'm looking for revenge. We'll have a new crew chief with us, Phil Matthews, a very experienced guy who has won numerous F2000 races with Marc-Antoine Camirand in the 1990s. We get along well and I'm convinced he'll be a big help in setting-up our car to battle for the victory."
And at Alegra Motorsports, Carbone's teammate, Fabio Orsolon is still looking for his first career F2000 win after picking up a bit of momentum at Road America.
Don't count out Chris Livengood either. Livengood is coming off perhaps the best weekend of his rookie season at Elkhart Lake for Work Racing, although the results may not show it.
"I'm going to get on track, attack it one lap at a time, and work to improve my pace," said Livengood, who was looking good for a podium at Road America before contact with Cole Morgan. "Each session needs to show improvement. The track will fit our car's strengths and I am confident that if I can keep my head down and work towards my goals we will be at the pointy end of the field."
The final weekend of what has been an epic 2010 Championship season gets going on Thursday September 5 with twilight testing, followed by two practice sessions on Friday. Both Saturday and Sunday feature a morning qualifying session followed by an afternoon race with live updates available online at www.f2000championshipseries.com.