RIKERT TAKES FIRST WIN IN U.S. F2000 NORTEL NETWORKS DASH RACE SHORTENED AFTER MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT HAMPTON, Ga. - Steve Rikert, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., led flag-to-flag to take his first U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision ...
RIKERT TAKES FIRST WIN IN U.S. F2000 NORTEL NETWORKS DASH RACE SHORTENED AFTER MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT
HAMPTON, Ga. - Steve Rikert, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., led flag-to-flag to take his first U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision victory in the Nortel Networks Dash at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race, scheduled for 34 laps, was shortened to 18 laps, 27.72 miles after a multi-car accident on the front straight. No drivers were seriously injured. Driving the No. 4 Richard Morgan Racing Van Diemen Ford, Rikert led from the start, but never by more than a half-car length over second-place Dan Wheldon, of England, to take a 0.124-second victory, averaging 145.986 mph-the fastest race in series' history. Running a high-drag spec wing, the lead draft consisted of 18 cars for much of the race as drivers bided their time to make a last-minute charge for the lead. On lap 19, Jonathan Bottoms, Arnold Brinkmann, Larry Foyt, Larry Oberto, Michael Curtiss and Tom Wood were involved in a chain-reaction accident on the front straight which sent Foyt's car flipping and igniting a flash fire as cars impacted the wall. Despite the frightening nature of the crash, the most serious injured, Oberto, of Seattle, Wash., and Brinkmann, of Ecuador, were awake and alert following the incident, but transported to the Atlanta Medical Center for further evaluation. All other drivers were treated and released or uninjured. "I hope everyone is okay," said Rikert immediately following the race. "We're competitors, but we're all more like family and friends. I felt like we had the strongest car today and would have won even if the race hadn't been shortened." With his win in the brief, 11 minute, 23.572 second race, Rikert moved into second in points behind Wheldon, 170 to 138. Driving the No. 5 Primus Racing Van Diemen Ford, Wheldon maintained the Road to Indy Oval Crown point lead as well, 108 to 80, over Rikert. "I settled for the points this time," said Wheldon. "I felt that on the last lap we would have had a great chance to win. It's a shame to ever finish a race like this with a bad accident." Mexican Rolando Quintanilla started and finished third in the No. 40 Tecate/Quaker State/Transportes Quintanilla Van Diemen Ford for his first-career podium finish. "We're like a big family," said Quintanilla. "It's like a member of your family being involved in an accident and I hope that everyone will be all right. I was really geared-up to make a dash to the finish and grab first place on the last lap, but third is a good finish for us." T.J. Bell, of Sparks, Nev., and Mark Dismore, of Greenfield, Ind., finished fourth and fifth. Larry Vatri, of Canal Winchester, Ohio, won the "B" Class for older cars (ninth overall) and set the race's fastest lap-the fastest in series' history-at 151.533 mph.
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Results from Saturday's 18-lap, 27.72-mile U.S.F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision Nortel Networks Dash at Atlanta Motor Speedway,with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, class, car, laps and reason out (if any). 1. (1), Steve Rikert, Rhinebeck, N.Y., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 2. (2), Dan Wheldon (R), England, F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 3. (3), Rolando Quintanilla, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 4. (4), T.J. Bell, Sparks, Nev., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 5. (16), Mark Dismore (R), Greenfield, Ind., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 6. (10), Bobby Oergel, Fresno, Calif., F2A, Mygale Ford, 18. 7. (9), Jonathan Bottoms, Buffalo, N.Y., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 8. (8), Alejandro Garcia, Venezuela, F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 9. (23), Larry Vatri, Canal Winchester, Ohio, F2B, Swift Ford, 18. 10. (7), Harold Primat (R), New York, N.Y., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 11. (13), Michael Curtiss (R), Alexandria, Va., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 12. (11), Tommy Constantine (R), Scottsdale, Ariz., F2A, Tatuus Ford, 18. 13. (14), Tom Wood, Calgary, Alberta, Can., F2A, Tatuus Ford, 18. 14. (17), Larry Oberto, Seattle, Wash., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 15. (12), Larry Foyt, Houston, Texas, F2A, Tatuus Ford, 18. 16. (22), Galen Puccini (R), Simi Valley, Calif., F2A, Carbir Ford, 18. 17. (15), Daniel Muniz (R), San Jose, Costa Rica, F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 18. (6), Arnold Brinkmann (R), Miami, Fla., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 18. 19. (19), Scott Dick, Cincinnati, Ohio, F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 17. 20. (21), Lance Spragins, Wichita Falls, Texas, F2B, Van Diemen Ford, 17. 21. (20), Kyle Burts (R), Tomball, Texas, F2B, Van Diemen Ford, 17. 22. (18), David Bleke, Whiteland, Ind., F2A, Tatuus Ford, 17. 23. (5), Marc-Antoine Camirand, Trois-Rivieres, Can., F2A, Van Diemen Ford, 13, MECH. Time of race: 11 minutes, 23.572 seconds. Average speed: 145.986 mph (Record) Margin of victory: 0.124-second Lap leaders: Laps 1-18, No. 4 Steve Rikert Fastest race lap: No. 22 Larry Vatri, 0:36.586 (151.533 mph) (Record) Fastest Qualifier: Grid order determined by qualifying race. Cautions: None. Race ended after 18 laps due to accident.