MORGAN DOMINATES WATKINS GLEN OPENER
Florida pilot becomes first to repeat in 2007
Heading into this weekend's doubleheader at Watkins Glen International, the F2000 Championship Series had enjoyed four different winners in the opening quartet of events. This streak was ended today when Cole Morgan scored his second win of the season by putting in a flawless performance, driving his St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen to victory lane at the famed upstate New York racing facility. Coming off his Round #4 triumph at Road Atlanta, Morgan took the lead from polesitter Terrick Mansur on the restart after a lap one caution, and then proceeded to pull away to a comfortable margin at the checkered flag after 11 laps of competition. Defending champion and current point leader Matt McDonough improved on his fifth-place qualifying pace to take second ahead of Mansur.
The race got off to a rough start after the field negotiated turn one cleanly, as separate incidents in the Bus Stop and the Esses brought out the full course yellow. The contact in the Esses was severe as Al Guibord Sr. was eventually t-boned by Lindsey Wolfer when he shot across the track in front of Wolfer and the impact was hard enough to send Guibord to the infield care center. The veteran was released, although he will likely visit the local hospital for x-rays. Several additional incidents on the opening lap put a total of seven cars on the sidelines, including Jim Hallman, Scott Willard, Tom Fatur and rookie Caleb Loniewski.
After a 15-minute clean-up, the race went back to green for a short sprint to the finish. Heading into turn one for the restart, Morgan capitalized on a good start to pull to the outside of Mansur, who was defending to the inside. Morgan went deep on the brakes and emerged from the opening corner with the lead, one that he would not relinquish. Mansur immediately came under attack from McDonough, who also enjoyed a strong restart. Over the early laps, Morgan led Mansur, McDonough, Ricardo Vassmer and Jesse Yorio in the American-made Piper.
The remainder of the race would run straight through to the checkered flag and Morgan used this open track to build a 2.513-second margin of victory, turning the fastest lap of the race in the process. McDonough pressured Mansur early in the race and was able to slip by the series rookie to assume second spot, moving his focus forward to Morgan. McDonough pushed hard to reel in the leader, but he was unable to lessen the gap. With Mansur completing the podium in third, his Andersen Racing teammates capped the top-five as Ricardo Vassmer and Noah Bystrom were fourth and fifth, respectively. The remainder of the top-10 featured Yorio in sixth, followed by Phil Lombardi, Chris Fahan, John Dole and Alan Guibord Jr..
Despite missing the season opening doubleheader at VIR in April, Morgan's win here at The Glen has vaulted him to fourth in points, just 67 points behind the leader, Matt McDonough. Mansur currently sits second in the order ahead of Bystrom. With Morgan now fourth, Keegan Van Sicklen caps the top five.
The second race of the weekend is scheduled for Sunday at 2:55 pm.