Westphal dominates Pacific F2000 in Utah Two More Wins Leaves Westphal Sitting Pretty in Pacific F2000 Title Quest Tooele, Utah (August 2, 2008) -- Another double victory has taken Jeff Westphal into an almost unassailable lead in the battle for...
Westphal dominates Pacific F2000 in Utah
Two More Wins Leaves Westphal Sitting Pretty in Pacific F2000 Title Quest
Tooele, Utah (August 2, 2008) -- Another double victory has taken Jeff Westphal into an almost unassailable lead in the battle for the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires. The 22-year-old from San Carlos, Calif., has won eight of 10 races this season and holds a commanding 61-point advantage with a total of only 68 points up for grabs from the one remaining race weekend at Las Vegas in October.
Westphal's latest successes came at the 3.048-mile Miller Motorsports Park, where he caught and passed title rival Robert Podlesni on Friday, then took advantage of a slip by Podlesni the following afternoon to secure his fifth straight win in the #39 Cacci Construction/TNT Demolition/PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen.
"The weekend went exactly like we wanted," said Westphal. "We rolled off the truck and we were competitive, and the whole test day [Thursday] we just worked on making the car consistent and making sure we looked after our tires. We set the car up for long runs and it was great for the races."
Podlesni finished second in the opening race ahead of impressive Masters Series contender Chuck Hulse, while Nick Freytag and Max Hyatt ensured an emphatic 1-2-3 result for the PR1 Motorsports team in Race Two.
Friday's race began with Westphal maintaining his advantage from the pole, but only until Lap 2 when Podlesni (#84 Terminal Velocity/Alpinestars/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen) capitalized on an excellent exit from the final turn as well as a big draft on the long main straightaway to snatch the lead into Turn One.
Undaunted, Westphal took advantage of his car's consistency to regain the lead at the same place a handful of laps later. He then cruised away to a handsome victory.
"The car was great early on, but then I just cooked my tires," lamented Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who took the checkered flag some 5.629 seconds in arrears.
Hulse drove impressively to easily clinch the Masters class (for drivers over 50 years of age) and finish a strong third in the #21 Silicon Salvage/DFR Van Diemen.
"My car was great," said Hulse, from Yorba Linda, Calif. "I picked up a few tips from my driver coach [2007 Star Mazda Series champion], Dane Cameron, and that really helped too. It was a good day."
Freytag (#9 Sodi Kart/G-Phactory/PR1 Van Diemen), from Paradise Valley, Ariz., closed rapidly on Hulse in the closing stages but had to settle for fourth, albeit well clear of PR1 teammate Shaun Modisette (#26 Carson Trailer Van Diemen), who just held off the attentions of Scott Rarick (#34 Piper/Fast Forward/Red Line Oil Piper DF5).
Race Two on Saturday began at a blistering pace with front row qualifiers Westphal and Podlesni running side-by-side virtually all the way to Turn Five, where Podlesni managed to grasp the lead with a brave outside-line pass.
"The start was awesome," declared Podlesni.
"That was fun," agreed Westphal, who was still thinking about how he could regain the advantage when Podlesni suddenly ran off the road at Turn Three on Lap 6.
"Something happened but I don't know what," said Podlesni who was unable to continue. "I just went into Turn Three and literally didn't come close to making the corner. The car just speared off the race track. It's so disappointing because we really had a fast car today."
Coincidentally, after qualifying third fastest for the second day in a row, Hulse also ran off the road in Turn Three -- on the opening lap -- while trying to keep pace with the two leaders. Hulse rejoined at the back of the field.
Freytag drove another clean, consistent race to finish second -- the 17-year-old's third podium appearance in four races -- while PR1 teammate Max Hyatt (#22 Performance Drink Van Diemen), from Santa Fe, N.M., overcame a problem on Friday and a mediocre qualifying effort for Race Two to climb from eighth on the grid to finish third.
Hulse impressively fought his way back to fourth place, less than three seconds behind Hyatt and well clear of Modisette and Rarick who enjoyed another close battle for fifth.
Ira Fierberg, from Manhattan Beach, Calif., enjoyed his best weekend of the season by claiming two seventh-place finishes. Fierberg also claimed top Expert honors (for drivers aged 35-50) on both days.