NA-F2000: PAC: Fontana round one preview

New Sponsor, Proven Talent Headline Pacific F2000 Series Opener at Fontana Fontana, Calif. (March 5, 2009) -- An eagerly awaited new season of Pacific F2000 competition roars into action this weekend at the famed Auto Club Speedway of Southern...

New Sponsor, Proven Talent Headline Pacific F2000 Series Opener at Fontana

Fontana, Calif. (March 5, 2009) -- An eagerly awaited new season of Pacific F2000 competition roars into action this weekend at the famed Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.

The grim economic climate has resulted in fewer entries than in years past, but the level of optimism has been raised with the arrival of Terminal Velocity Processing as a new presenting sponsor.

"Tough times bring out the best in us all," says series founder and president Les Phillips. "We have to be resilient, and for a young racer trying to move his way up the ladder, resilience is one of the attributes he is going to need. All things considered, I'm very pleased with how the series is shaping up. We still have a strong and deep field of dedicated drivers and teams. I have no doubt the competition will be as fierce as ever."

Robert Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., will be the benchmark for his rivals this weekend. "Poodles" has not yet decided whether he will campaign the full season aboard Dave Freitas Racing's #84 Terminal Velocity Processing/Alpinestars Van Diemen, but after winning the title in 2006 and finishing second last year on his return after a one-year hiatus, the 21-year-old talent will be a hot favorite for top honors.

"I'm looking forward to getting back in the car again," says Podlesni. "I think Pacific F2000 is the best package for anyone looking to move up in racing and gives a great foundation that can be applied to any form of motorsports."

Primary opposition to Podlesni is likely to stem from a three-car challenge posted by Fresno-based PR1 Motorsports, which has won the Pacific F2000 Championship in four of the last five years.

College students Shaun Modisette (#26 Carson Trailers Van Diemen), from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and Max Hyatt (#22Performance Drink Van Diemen), from Santa Fe, N.M., were regular podium contenders last year for PR1. Both youngsters are anxious to find their way to Victory Lane, while former SCCA Formula Ford National Champion and Pacific F2000 series veteran Scott Rarick (#34 PR1 Van Diemen) fully intends to prove that experience can overcome youth as he joins the PR1 organization after many years of fielding his own cars.

Other veteran drivers among the field will include Dave Freitas Racing pair Ira Fierberg and Chuck Hulse, who are both looking to continue where they left off in 2008.

Fierberg (#27 Sparco USA/Personal Injury Law/LDF Pro Fitness/The Yard Van Diemen), from Manhattan Beach, Calif., is seeking a second successive Experts title (for drivers aged between 35 and 50). Hulse, from Yorba Linda, Calif., was a dominant winner of the Masters class (for drivers aged 51 or older) in 2008.

Hulse, who claimed two overall podium finishes last year, will return with the #21 Silicon Salvage Van Diemen but can expect tough competition in the Masters class from Madera, Calif.-based teammate Peter Hastrup (#5 Western Building Materials/Nuttall, Brown and Coutts Van Diemen) and Les Phillips, from Bakersfield, Calif., who will once again attempt to show up rivals less than half his age in the #89 Swiss Implants/Porterfield Brakes Mygale.

F2000 originated in England in 1974 and has helped spawn the careers of many of the sport's top names, including Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill. It has been equally productive in North America, producing such alumni as Sam Hornish Jr., Buddy Rice, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Dan Wheldon. Graduates of Pacific F2000 since its inception in 2004 include Jason Bowles, a front-runner in the Camping World NASCAR West Series; Team USA Scholarship winners and rising open-wheel stars J.R. Hildebrand, Dane Cameron and Joel Miller; and emerging sports car talents Brad Jaeger, Mike Forest, Patrick Barrett and Jeff Westphal.

Terminal Velocity Processing, an innovative credit card payment processing company, specializes in providing cost-saving services for card-not-present (CNP) mail order/telephone order and Internet merchants. Terminal Velocity Processing is based in Agoura Hills, Calif.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Dan Wheldon , Ayrton Senna , Damon Hill , Buddy Rice , Ira Fierberg , Brad Jaeger , Jason Bowles , Dane Cameron , J.R. Hildebrand , Chuck Hulse , Patrick Barrett , Joel Miller , Max Hyatt , Jeff Westphal , Mike Forest , Sam Hornish Jr.