NA-F2000: Mid-Ohio Preview

F2000 RETURNS TO MID-OHIO WITH FIERCE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE FAIRFIELD, N.J. (August 5) – For the second time this season, the U.S. F2000 National Championship heads to scenic central Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the CART FedEx ...

F2000 RETURNS TO MID-OHIO WITH FIERCE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE

FAIRFIELD, N.J. (August 5) – For the second time this season, the U.S. F2000 National Championship heads to scenic central Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the CART FedEx Championship Series Miller Lite 200 Weekend, August 7-9.

The U.S. F2000 boasts the top up-and-coming drivers in open-wheel racing competing in 150 horsepower, 150 mph Ford two-liter formula race cars, providing the complete motorsports education to drivers and mechanics on their way to Indy cars. The U.S. F2000 joins CART for the fourth-straight year at the 2.258-mile road course, and serves as Saturday's featured race beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EDT). Saturday's race will be nationally televised on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN2 Tuesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT).

Australian David Besnard and his No. 13 Primus Racing Karts Van Diemen Ford steam rolled the competition in the F2000's first 1998 Mid-Ohio appearance June 14, part of the U.S. Road Racing Classic, bolstering his point lead to an enormous 50-point advantage over second place Ryan Hampton. The race capped an amazing run for Besnard, who won five of the first seven races, taking five poles in the process. Besnard currently leads the series in wins (five), poles (five), fastest race laps (six), laps led (119, 40.4 percent), miles led (206.33, 42.3 percent), podium finishes (seven), top-five finishes (nine, tied) and top-10 finishes (nine, tied).

Hampton, of Glendora, Calif., has been on fire since, scoring two wins, poles and a second-place finish in the last three events, outscoring Besnard 91 to 60 over the stretch to cut the point deficit to 19 (273 to 254). Hampton (No. 88 American Instruments/Body Abuse Tatuus Ford) comes off the most dominating weekend an F2000 driver has ever had, earning both poles and wins at the Charlotte doubleheader, July 23-24 -- equaling Chris Simmons' superb effort at Shannonville, Ontario, Can. in 1993. Hampton leads the series in laps complete (294, 100 percent), miles complete (487.24, 100 percent), finishes (10 out of 10), top-five finishes (nine, tied), and top-10 finishes (nine, tied); and is second in wins (three), top-three finishes (six) and poles (two).

The battle for third in points is fierce as well, with Robby McGehee, of St. Louis, leading 1997 Rookie of the Year Andy Lally by seven points, 188 to 181. Both drivers challenged Hampton at Charlotte, with Lally leading the most laps (14) en route to second in the first race -- the best ever for the No. 5 Maida/Red Line Oil/Highcroft Bowman Ford. McGehee topped the lap chart for race two, leading 12 of the 30 tours, finishing second in the No. 2 VisionAire/Energizer Tatuus Ford. Despite leading both races, neither driver finished the other half of the weekend, costing them dearly in the run for the title.

Mike Johnson (No. 8 PCG/Valvoline/Slick Eyewear Van Diemen Ford) is having his best-ever run at the Championship (fifth, 151 points) and returns to the site of his best finish. Johnson, who appeared in MTV's Real World -- London, finished third at Mid-Ohio in 1996 to Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Steve Knapp and top KOOL/Toyota Atlantic driver Andrew Bordin.

Despite missing the first two races of the season, Canadian sensation Marc-Antoine Camirand (No. 96 Key Tours/Key Motorsports Van Diemen Ford) is sixth in points, and enjoyed his best run of the season at Mid-Ohio, with a second-place finish in June. Camirand's teammate, three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, also enjoyed a career-best at Mid-Ohio, with a third-place finish. LeMond just returned from the Tour, and looks to carry some of that adrenaline to another podium finish.

Other drivers who are on the move in points include Steve Rikert (No. 11 S-n-R Racing/Tatuus RC Tatuus Ford), Bobby Oergel (No. 52 DSTP/Primus/RedLine/Quicksilver Van Diemen Ford), Minneapolis winner Jonathan Bottoms (No. 28 Roppe/Team Great Northern Van Diemen Ford) and Defiance, Ohio's Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 7 Hornish Bros./Fountain City Leasing Van Diemen Ford).

Making his first professional racing start since finishing second to Memo Gidley in the 60-car strong 1995 Mid-Ohio race is 1993 series runner-up Mike Andersen. Andersen, who finished fourth in 1992 and third in 1994 with two race wins, could be a factor in his only start of the season. Andersen (No. 12 Andersen-Kish Racing/Yokohama/Pi Van Diemen Ford) is the son of U.S. F2000 co-promoter Dan Andersen.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Robby McGehee , Marc-Antoine Camirand , Andy Lally , Steve Knapp , David Besnard , Andrew Bordin , Mike Johnson , Sam Hornish Jr.