The Formula TR PRO Series visited Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah for Rounds 11 and 12 of its 20 round 2007 1600 and 2000 Championships on July 13 and 14 supporting the NASCAR Grand National West Series. The championships in both the ...
The Formula TR PRO Series visited Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah for Rounds 11 and 12 of its 20 round 2007 1600 and 2000 Championships on July 13 and 14 supporting the NASCAR Grand National West Series. The championships in both the FR1600's and FR2000's were close with the potential for changes in the standings very real coming into these two rounds for the series.
Every driver and team are focused on the series championships and positioning now before the first of three double points events of the series coming up next at Willow Springs in August. Thursday July 12 was a promoter's test day and all 15 Formula TR PRO Series entrants took advantage of the opportunity to test and tune on the 3.06 mile outside loop course being used for the event.
Many discovered how fickle the weather around the Great Salt Lake can be when they headed onto the track for a test session and the sky simply opened up and a deluge fell upon the track, everyone quickly returned to the pits for rain tires, if they had them. All the teams were now forewarned to be ready for anything.
The #50 FR2000, Knudsen Racing entry of Jeremy Braun arrived with a fresh paint scheme of yellow and black that is very distinguishable on the track. The #7 FR2000, Knudsen Racing entry of John Knudsen showed up with the Formula Renault 2007 update kit and a fresh paint job too. The 2007 update kit for the FR2000's features a completely new set of body panels and underbody tray along with a new nose and rear wing end plates that are based upon the aerodynamic shapes incorporated in the Renault F1 cars.
The Formula TR PRO Series allows the update but has imposed a weight penalty to equalize the FR2000 entries. This was the first weekend for the new, cost reducing, change for the FR1600's limitation of one set of new tires for all qualifying sessions and races rather than allowing a new set for each qualifying and associated race. Everyone was keen to see how this would effect lap times and overall competitiveness in the FR1600 Championship.
Chris Keller joined the FR1600 championship in the #85 JP Motorsports entry after successfully completing his licensing evaluation at Buttonwillow Raceway during the previous event.
The bad luck story of the weekend belonged to the #3 FR2000, Position One Motorsports entry of Luis Martinez Jr. In an early testing session on Thursday the car suffered a catastrophic engine failure, something quite unusual in these normally very reliable race cars.
The Position One Motorsports team had a complete spare car and proceeded to transplant the engine from the spare into the #3 car, a task that was completed by the end of Thursday. Friday morning, on the first lap of the practice session the car got away from Martinez Jr., and just clipped a tire barrier; again another rare incident since the track has abundant runoff areas providing great safety margins for both driver and car. The damage was repaired for the qualifying session and Martinez Jr. was prepared, however, this time the car suffered a tire failure.
The series has specific rules regarding replacing tires and when replacing the failed tire the rules were not followed resulting in a loss of the Martinez Jr.'s #3 qualifying times relegating him to starting Round 11 from the back of the field. For Round 12 another tire failure struck as Martinez Jr. entered the front straight heading for the white flag indicating the beginning of the last lap, ending his race one lap early.
Tires were the Achilles heel of the weekend with 5 cars suffering tire failures throughout the competition. Once again, a very unusual circumstance for the Formula TR PRO Series where reliability is simply expected based upon superior prior performance.
Round 11 Recap Qualifying revealed how competitive and consistent the cars were with less than 5/100's separating the top two FR1600's, Joshua Goshen, #83 Goshen Motorsports, 2:01.256; Sergio Pena, #58 JP Motorsports, 2:01.264. And close behind Kristin Braun, #70 Kimball Williams Racing, 2:02.301; Ryan Booth, #4 Knudsen Racing, 2:02.133 and newcomer Chris Keller, #85 JP Motorsports with a respectable 2:03.801. Thirteen year old Joshua Goshen took his first pole in his open wheel racing career by 8/1000's of a second and collected a point for securing the pole for the FR1600's.
The FR2000's were equally competitive with the first three qualifiers within 6/10's, Bill Goshen, #82 Goshen Racing, 1:51.404; John Knudsen, #7 Knudsen Racing, 1:51.578; Liam Kenney, #95 Liam Kenney Racing, 1:52.170. The other FR2000 competitors were tight as well with Luis Martinez Jr., #3 Position One Motorsports, 1:55.150; Christian Franck, #16 Knudsen Racing, 1:55.205; Paul Mashoff, #00 Paladin Motorsports, 1:56.282; Dino Bruno, #33 Team Bruno, 1:56.524; Kerry Lynch, #6 Knudsen Racing, 1:56691; Jim Booth, #5 Knudesn Racing, 1:56.806; and Jeremy Braun, #50 Goshen Racing posting no time due to a failed fuel pump on the out lap of qualifying.
Grid changes due to tire rules moved FR1600 competitor Kristin Braun and FR2000 driver Luis Martinez Jr. to the rear of their respective grids for the Round 11 race.
The beginning of the Round 11 race was remarkable, as the cars were leaving the pit lane for the formation lap a FR2000 slowed and the cars immediately following slowed in response causing the classic 'accordion' effect that resulted in Paul Mashoff, #00 Paladin Racing, contacting Christian Franck, #16 Knudsen Racing, hard on the gearbox. Christian's car suffered no damage but the front wings and nose of Mashoff's car were severely damaged and he was unable to complete the formation lap. The start was delayed for two laps while Mashoff's car was removed from the course by the safety crew.
The start was clean with the cars going three wide into the first turn at the end of the 3500 foot front straight. In the FR2000's John Knudsen who had started from the second position suffered a tire failure on the first lap forcing a pit stop. Bill Goshen maintained his position at the front of the field at the end of the first lap with Jeremy Braun advancing five places, Bruno advancing three positions, Martinez Jr. advancing two positions and Kenney moving up one spot.
At the end of the third lap the positions were pretty much sorted out for the race with Bill Goshen solidly in first, Kenney in second and Jeremy Braun advancing one more position to third, Franck in fourth, Martinez Jr. moving up to fifth, Bruno in sixth, charging from his unscheduled pit stop Knudsen made it to seventh position to collect valuable points to retain his lead in the championship, Jim Booth and Kerry Lynch finished eighth and ninth respectively. Knudsen did set fast race lap, collecting another championship point.
In the 1600 battle, Ryan Booth jumped to the head of the FR1600's from his fourth place grid position with an outstanding start and Kristin Braun moved to past Keller to fourth. Lap two saw Joshua Goshen passed Pena to take second position and in lap three Kristin Braun moved past Pena for third. Pena recaptured third in the fifth lap. The next three laps were the classic "wait for someone to make a mistake' scenario and it happened on lap 10 with Ryan Booth spinning and dropping to fourth place and then Keller headed for the pits when his shift cable broke.
When the checkered came out, Joshua Goshen had a sweep with the pole and his premier first place and set fast race lap. Pena finished second, Kristin Braun third and Ryan Booth fourth and Keller fifth. At the end of Round 11 the brothers Goshen stood on the top step of their respective podiums making this the high point of the weekend for many.
Round 12 Recap - Competitive and consistency amplified in Round 12. The FR1600's were again close with Sergio Pena, #58 JP Motorsports, on the pole with a time of 2:00.922 followed by Joshua Goshen, #83 Goshen Racing, 2:01.597; Chris Keller, JP Motorsports, 2:02.143; Ryan Booth, #4 Knudsen Racing, 2:02.209; and Kristin Braun, #70 Kimball Williams Racing, 2:02.543. Post qualifying technical inspection found Chris Keller's FR1600 1 pound under the minimum weight allowed by the Formula TR PRO series and he was moved to the back of the grid as a result.
FR2000 qualifying saw laps being turned within tenths showing that consistency was building as the drivers increased their familiarity with the track. John Knudsen, #7 Knudsen Racing, captured the poll and the precious point with a lap at 1:51.632; Liam Kenney, #95 Liam Kenney Motorsports, was second quickest with a lap at 1:51.821; Bill Goshen, #82 Goshen Racing, captured third grid position with a quick lap of 1:51.831. The top three separated by less than 2/10's of a second. Next was Jeremy Braun, #50 Goshen Racing, fourth with a 1:52.313; Luis Martinez Jr., #3 Position One Motorsports, fifth, 1:52.978; Christian Franck, #16 Knudesn Racing, sixth, 1:53.067; Dino Bruno, #33 Team Bruno, seventh, 1:54.469; Kerry Lynch, #6 Knudsen Racing, eighth, 1:55.892; Jim Booth, #5 Knudsen Racing, ninth, 1:56.261; Paul Mashoff, #00 Paladin Motorsports, tenth, 1:56.917. The start had none of the drama of the previous round with the green flag waving on the first pass past the starter stand. Again the field moved though the fast first turn three, perhaps four wide but without contact. The only spin was Paul Mashoff, FR2000 #00, who rejoined the race after all cars had passed.
The FR2000's made the first pass by the finish line with Jeremy Braun, Martinez Jr., Lynch and Jim Booth each moving up on position and Mashoff in the pits with a tire failure. In the second lap Jeremy Braun moved up another position as did Bruno. In the third lap Jeremy Braun spun and fell to the back of the FR2000 field and began his assault on the field to regain positions and points. The first three cars proceeded to run the next several laps only a few car lengths apart, at times inches apart.
Using the draft Bill Goshen passed Knudsen at the end of the 3500 foot long front straight to take first place and hold on to it for the checkered as well as setting fast race lap. Kenney was also able to pass Knudsen on the next lap to secure second place while Knudsen was able to hang on to third place. Christian Franck crossed the finish line in fourth followed by Jeremy Braun who climbed back from his spin to last to finish fifth; Bruno crossed the line in sixth; Lynch was next in seventh; Jim Booth came in eighth; Paul Mashoff recovered from his tire failure to finish ninth; and Martinez Jr. suffered a tire failure on the next to last lap retiring him from the race, finishing tenth.
The FR1600 race opened with Pena taking the lead and Kristin Braun slipping past pole sitter Joshua Goshen on the start. Kristin Braun seized the lead from Pena in turn one the following lap and held on for the next three laps when she bobbled and slipped to second and then again, slipping to fifth. Chris Keller drove a steady race moving from last to third. The final order was Pena, first; Joshua Goshen, second; Chris Keller, third with the fastest race lap; Ryan Booth, fourth; and Kristin Braun, fifth. Both the Goshen brothers visited the podium again for Round 12. There was no definitive answer to the new tire rule for the FR1600's.
The cars qualified with quicker lap times for Round 12 than they recorded for Round 11 when the tires were fresh but the drivers less familiar with the track. A few more weekends will be needed before the question can be answered completely. The championship point standings after these two rounds of the 2007 Formula TR PRO Series finds a change with Liam Kenney moving into third place in the FR2000 championship.
The next two rounds (13-14) of the Formula TR PRO Series 2007 Championship takes place August 11-12 at Willow Springs Raceway, Rosamond, California. These two races are double points races providing the opportunity for the competitors to make significant improvement in their standing for the championship in their class.