NA-F2000: Homestead: Bell wins season-opener at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (March 3, 2001) –Doug Bell, of St. Albans, England, won Round One of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Memo Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico, and Peter Gray, of ...

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (March 3, 2001) –Doug Bell, of St. Albans, England, won Round One of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Memo Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico, and Peter Gray, of Aberdeen, Scotland, completed the top-three. Billy Hagar, of Tuttle, Okla., won the American Continental Championship class. Starting from pole, in the No. 3 Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, Bell held the lead in the early stages of the race. A full-course yellow on lap six, for a car hitting the tire wall in turn three, bunched the field back together. On the ensuing restart, Rojas got a good jump on Bell and passed for the lead. Rojas held on to the lead until lap 19 when Bell retook the position down the back straight. The remainder of the race Bell ran uncontested in the lead as Rojas and Gray battled for position behind him. Bell captures his first series win in his first-ever U.S. F2000 race. "It's a great way to start the season," said the 22-year old Bell. "I wanted to win from the pole, but didn't really expect it. The team has been just brilliant. I'm sure there's more to come." Driving, the No. 15 Telmex Van Diemen Ford, Rojas looked to be in control of the race following the first full-course yellow. Following the second restart, for a full-course yellow on lap 11, Rojas fought off both Bell and Gray to maintain the lead. After losing the lead to Bell, Rojas was forced to concentrate on defending his position against a hard charging Gray. The second place finish ties a career-best set last year at Road America and is his third top-three finish of his career. "I thought I had the race under control," said Rojas. "Doug [Bell] made a good pass on me and Peter [Gray] was right behind him so I had defend. That allowed Doug [Bell] to build a good gap, and with all of us running similar times I just couldn't catch him." Gray, driving the No. 2 Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, got a good start to the race slotting in behind his teammate in the early stages. As the race progressed he battled Rojas for position, repeatedly trying to make the pass, but was unable to do so. "I'm happy with where I finished," said Gray. "Having never raced in the series I wanted to make sure I drove a safe race and scored a good finish." Driving the No. 4 Hagar Restaurant Service Van Diemen Ford, Hagar won the ACC class, holding of numerous challenges and finishing 15th overall. Completing the top-five was Jason LaPoint, of Woodburn, Ore., who had started on the front-row and Arie Luyendyk Jr., of Den Bosch, Holland, who moved up through the field after starting 11th. The Taylor Engineering "Shark" award went to Niki Coello, of Mukwonago, Wis., who moved up from his 13th starting position to finish eighth.

-Allan Craighead

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Memo Rojas , Niki Coello , Arie Luyendyk Jr.