LEXINGTON, OHIO (August 11, 2001)--Jason LaPoint, of Woodburn, Ore., won Round Eleven of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Tonis Kasemets, of Mundelein, Ill. and Peter Gray, of...
LEXINGTON, OHIO (August 11, 2001)--Jason LaPoint, of Woodburn, Ore., won Round Eleven of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Tonis Kasemets, of Mundelein, Ill. and Peter Gray, of Aberdeen, Scotland, completed the top-three. Ron Thomas, of Galena, Ohio, won the ACC class.
Under cooler conditions than qualifying, the 25-lap race started following CART FedEx qualifying. At the start, LaPoint, starting from pole, got a great jump and retained the lead into the esses. Behind LaPoint the field went three abreast into the first turn, with the top-four maintaining position. Using the added grip from the rubber on the track, LaPoint built a comfortable lead in the opening laps. On lap three a full-course caution came out for No. 44 Dana making heavy contact with the tire wall entering the carousel. On the lap seven restart, LaPoint got a great jump on Kasemets and held the lead. As the race progressed, LaPoint, in the No. 89 Infinity Motorsports/Regency Aviation/TrackMagic Van Diemen Ford, and Kasemets pulled away from the rest of the field. For the remainder of the race the duo ran nose to tail, with Kasemets unable to make any attempt for the lead. At the checkered flag, LaPoint captured his first career win by a margin of 0.554-second. The win moves LaPoint to within five points of the championship lead, held by Billy Asaro. In addition to the win LaPoint was awarded the Pi Research Hard Charger award for his great drive.
"This is just great," said LaPoint. "We've been so close this year. The team has just been awesome the last few races, and today we finally did it. The win gives us the momentum we need going to Daytona. The Championship is definitely still up for grabs."
At the start of the race, Kasemets briefly dropped back from LaPoint, but maintained his second place starting position. Following the three-lap caution, Kasemets closed on LaPoint. Driving the No. 6 MKInd/Flexovit/Pabst Racing Services Van Diemen Ford, Kasemets stayed right behind LaPoint the remainder of the race, never making an attempt for the lead. The second place finish is Kasemets third consecutive top-two finish.
"It was a wonderful race," said Kasemets. "I worked with Jason [LaPoint] at the start and we pulled away. As the race progressed he had a better car on the straights and I just couldn't make a move for the lead."
At the start of the race Gray maintained his fourth place starting position. On the restart, Gray, in the No. 2 Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, got a good jump and was able to challenge Asaro for position. Entering the esses the duo went side-by-side. Using a difficult outside line, Gray passed Asaro for third place and began to pull away. For the remainder of the race, Gray never challenged for second, and was never challenged for position. The podium finish is Gray's fourth of the year and moves him into third place in the championship.
"It's a good result to get," said Gray. "After passing Billy [Asaro] I had a pretty dull race. The hard part is to stay focused and not loose your concentration."
Making his first start since 1998, Thomas drove a strong race. At the start of the race he got caught out and fell back numerous positions. As the race progressed Thomas, driving the No. 91 Heat Total Facility Solutions/Aleron 2000 Van Diemen Ford, regained several position. On the penultimate lap, Thomas moved into the ACC lead, after No. 11 Rubenzer retired with a mechanical failure. For his strong drive Thomas awarded the Truechoice Drive of the Day.
"This is a good way to finish the weekend," said Thomas. "I was running good at the end and saw Scott [Rubenzer] go off, but I did know I'd won the class until after I came into pitlane. Running this harder compound tires I think helped me tune the car, and I'm looking forward to doing some more races."
Completing the top-five was Doug Bell, of St. Alban's, England and Piero Rodarte, of Mexico City, Mexico. Alexander Figge, of Aspen, Colo., was awarded the Taylor Engineering "Shark" award, after he moved up six positions in the race.