Jay Howard Continues His Winning Streak in Cleveland Cleveland, Ohio (June 26, 2005) -- In contrast to yesterday's Cooper Tires Championship Series race for Formula Ford 2000 cars at the Burke Lakefront Airport, which saw all 21 laps completed...
Jay Howard Continues His Winning Streak in Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio (June 26, 2005) -- In contrast to yesterday's Cooper Tires Championship Series race for Formula Ford 2000 cars at the Burke Lakefront Airport, which saw all 21 laps completed under green flag conditions, today's second race in the double-header was peppered with incidents which saw nine of the 15 laps run at reduced speed behind the pace car.
One thing that did not change was the form of 24-year-old Englishman Jay Howard, who overcame a couple of stern challenges to post a record-extending sixth consecutive victory aboard Aiken Racing's #22 newhoneys.com Van Diemen RF02.
Watched by a large crowd at the prestigious Cleveland Champ Car Grand Prix, Round 5 of the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, fellow Briton Joey Foster (#3 Bradfords/BRDC/Keenpine/Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF01) finished just 0.575 seconds behind in second place.
Teenager J.R. Hildebrand, from Sausalito, Calif., was hot on the two Englishmen's tail in third with his #85 Russell Racing/PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04 after a stellar charge saw him briefly take the lead in the late stages.
"All race wins are fun, because that's what I'm here for," said Howard, "but I must say this one was even more satisfying than usual because I really had to work for it."
Following a full-course caution with less than five minutes remaining, Howard had his work cut out to defend his advantage from Foster under braking for Turn One. The pair raced side-by-side out of the corner, before Foster nosed ahead going into Turn Three on Lap 13. One corner later, with Howard diving to the inside to regain the point, Hildebrand stole a march on both of them by slicing through into the lead.
"It was close," said Hildebrand, "but I saw my chance and I went for it."
Hildebrand didn't stay our front of long, though, because Howard had a sensational run through the final chicane before dicing incisively for the inside line in Turn One to regain the point. Foster followed in Howard's wheel tracks, relegating Hildebrand to third.
"It was a difficult race, because there weren't many green-flag laps," summarized Foster, who bounced back from a disappointing result on Saturday to secure second. "I had a good car and I think I was a little faster than Jay but I didn't quite have enough time."
Hildebrand had to settle for a another podium finish after claiming second on Saturday.
"We made a few changes to the car from yesterday and perhaps they weren't quite the right way to go," he related. "The car wasn't so controllable so I couldn't really hold them off. Still, it was fun to run out front."
Pickering, Ontario, Canada's Chris Guerrieri backed up his first-ever Cooper Series podium on Saturday by finishing fourth this afternoon in his #11Aiken Racing Van Diemen RF05, followed by Cincinnati, Ohio's Brad Jaeger (#77 PR1 Motorsports Mygale) and top Cooper Masters contender (for drivers over 35 years of age) Jason Byers (#28 A&B Refrigeration/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen RF03), from Livonia, Mich.
Local driver Mark Defer (#81 Defer Tire/Pennzoil/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen RF99), from Streetsboro, Ohio, scored a popular victory in the Cooper Gold Cup class (for older SCCA Formula Continental cars) after taking full advantage of a bobble by earlier pacesetters Doug Kniffin and Ricardo Vassmer immediately following a full-course caution.
"That was a bit lucky," admitted Defer, who nonetheless drove flawlessly. "There's no way I was faster than the kid (Vassmer). He's really good. But he and Doug (Kniffin) got held up by some slower cars after the restart and they lost momentum, which is critical on this track. They were sitting ducks. I just went by 'em."
The next rounds of the Cooper Tires Series will take place at Road America (Wis.) August 6/7.