Van Hooser and Jaeger Share Pacific F2000 Honors In Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev., March 14, 2004 -- PR1 Motorsports teammates Wade Van Hooser and Brad Jaeger ended up sharing the honors in this weekend's See Ya Motorhomes Pacific F2000 Series ...
Van Hooser and Jaeger Share Pacific F2000 Honors In Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev., March 14, 2004 -- PR1 Motorsports teammates Wade Van Hooser and Brad Jaeger ended up sharing the honors in this weekend's See Ya Motorhomes Pacific F2000 Series double-header at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course. Van Hooser romped to a clear victory on Saturday, but the following day had to play second fiddle to Jaeger, who started from the pole and withstood intense pressure throughout the half-hour race.
The pair of F2000 contests attracted a strong 22-car entry and provided some of the best action during VARA's Trench Shoring Formula Festival, which also celebrated 35 years of Formula Ford.
Saturday's counter couldn't have gone any better for Van Hooser. The youngster made a clean start from the pole and was further assisted when opening round winner Joel Miller (in a third PR1 Van Diemen RF02) ran off the course at the fast Turn Six. He rejoined a chastened 13th and made his way up to 10th before spinning again and retiring to the pits in order to save his tires for Sunday's race.
"It was one of those days that was inevitably going to happen," said the 15-year-old sagely.
Miller's first miscue handed a clear lead to Van Hooser and elevated an impressive Bruce Binnquist into second place. The 30-year-old former 125cc shifter kart racer was taking part in his very first car race having secured a deal to drive series sponsor Johnnie Crean's Zetec-powered Van Diemen RF03. Jaeger followed in third ahead of a dicing Mark Peller and Tom Hope, whose Pinto-engined cars had been granted a concession since last month's opening round at California Speedway by being permitted a softer Avon tire than the more modern Zetec-powered cars.
Binnquist, from Aliso Viejo, Calif., doggedly held off Jaeger for the first five laps before the Ohioan found a way past under braking for Turn One. Jaeger soon pulled clear, but Van Hooser already was far out of reach. In fact, Van Hooser led by as much as 11 seconds before cruising home to the finish.
"[Team owner] Bobby [Oergel] came on the radio and said, 'You need to slow down and save your tires for tomorrow,'" related Van Hooser, from Tulare, Calif. Still, the teenager couldn't resist pumping in the fastest lap of the race -- worth a two-point bonus -- on lap 14.
"We had made some changes to the car after qualifying and I wanted to see what the changes did [to the handling]," related Van Hooser, "so I did one quick lap and then went back to going slow.
"Plus," he added with a sly grin, "I was tired of going slow!"
Once safely into second place, Jaeger also was instructed to keep a steady pace, since the Zetec cars are allowed only one set of tires per race weekend.
Binnquist, meanwhile, was justifiably pleased with third.
"We kind of missed the setup a bit," he said. "I had quite a bit of oversteer late in the race but it was still good. [After being passed by Jaeger] I just went to school on his driving line. I learned a lot."
Equally impressive was the performance of Canadian ex-Formula Ford 1600 racer Mike Forest, who made a hash of the qualifying session and wound up a lowly 11th on the grid. Forest, however, was on the move immediately, and by lap 10 had made it all the way up to fifth. Two laps later he snuck past Peller to claim an excellent fourth.
"It would have been nice to start up front but I just couldn't get it done in qualifying," admitted Forest. "The race was a lot of fun and it was good to do some passing."
Peller held on to claim Pinto honors with a solid run to fifth ahead of Hope, the SCCA's CalClub Regional championship in 2002, who had been forced to sit out the opening round at Fontana due to a blown engine.
Race two on Sunday once again was held in glorious warm sunshine, but this time Van Hooser would have to find a way past polesitter Jaeger if he was to secure a weekend double. Jaeger, though, was up to the challenge. He maintained his lead at the start, and even though Van Hooser remained within a couple of car lengths for the entire duration, Jaeger held on for a fine victory.
"He was making me work for it," said a delighted Jaeger. "I had a lot of understeer and I started to get a little frustrated. But then I thought wait, Wade has the same setup so he probably has the same problem, so I just drove it!"
Jaeger was right, Van Hooser also was bothered by excessive understeer, which perhaps prevented him from making a move. Still, the pair displayed admirable pace and consistency as they romped clear of their rivals.
"I got alongside him a couple of times," related Van Hooser, "but one time there was a yellow [flag] and the other time he squeezed me a little. I was a bit mad for a minute but then I realized I would probably have done the same thing!"
Miller and Forest were embroiled in an equally close battle for third which saw Miller claim the place under braking for Turn Two on the first lap, then Forest (who had qualified third) redress the balance with a nice pass into the Turn Eight hairpin. The pair battled long and hard before Miller finally took the place under braking for Turn One on lap 14.
"All in all it's a lot better way to finish than yesterday," said Miller, from Hesperia, Calif.
Binnquist didn't trouble the leaders on this occasion after making some changes to the setup and replacing his Saturday oversteer with a little too much mid-corner push. Still, a third and a fifth represented an excellent weekend's work.
Peller maintained his string of Pinto "class" wins by snaring sixth, although he had to work hard for his laurels this time after qualifying only 11th. Series debutant Tim Harris led the way in the early stages, driving a '96 Van Diemen which had been delivered to his shop only one week earlier. Harris originally had intended merely to race in his VARA group, but changed his mind at the last minute and, after missing Saturday's race, qualified an impressive sixth. Harris had to give best to Peller in the race, but seventh still represented a good effort.
Race 1: 1. Wade Van Hooser (Van Diemen RF02 Zetec), 17 laps, 30m26.203s, 80.094mph; 2. Brad Jaeger (Van Diemen RF02 Zetec), +6.374s; 3. Bruce Binnquist (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec); 4. Mike Forest (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec); 5. Mark Peller (Van Diemen RF01 Pinto); 6. Tom Hope (Van Diemen RF98 Pinto); 7. Carl Scott (Van Diemen RF96 Pinto); 8. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec); 9. Les Phillips (Van Diemen RF01 Pinto); 10. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec); 11. John Lombardo (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec); 12. Dwight Rider (Van Diemen RF02 Zetec); 13 Jeffry Mann (Van Diemen RF98 Pinto); 14. Peter West (Van Diemen RF01 Zetec); 15. Mike Rodney (Van Diemen RF01 Zetec), 16 laps; not running; 16 Douglas Da Costa (Van Diemen RF01 Pinto), 14 laps, not running; 17 Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Van Diemen RF03 Zetec), 10 laps, not running; 18, Joel Miller (Van Diemen RF02 Zetec), 9 laps, not running; 19 Dennis Goughary (Carbir DS3 Pinto), 6 laps, not running; 20 Ira Fierberg (Van Diemen RF01 Zetec), 2 laps, not running; 21 John Gluckin (Van Diemen RF01 Zetec), 0 laps, not running. Fastest lap: Van Hooser, 1m45.626s, 81.457mph (establishes record).
Race 2: 1. Jaeger, 17 laps, 30m08.461s, 80.880mph; 2. Van Hooser, +0.386s; 3. Miller; 4. Forest; 5. Binnquist; 6. Peller; 7. Tim Harris (Van Diemen RF96 Pinto); 8. Tirinnanzi; 9. Lombardo; 10. Hope; 11. Da Costa; 12. Mann; 13. Scott; 14. Foutch; 15. West; 16. Gluckin, 16 laps; 17. Rider, 14 laps, not running; 18. Hastrup, 14 laps, not running; 19. Rodney, 8 laps, not running; 20. Fierberg, 8 laps, not running; 21. Phillips, 2 laps, not running; DNS Goughary. Fastest lap: Van Hooser, 1m45.182s, 80.863mph (record).
See Ya Motorhomes Pacific F2000 Series unofficial points, after four of 12 races: 1. Van Hooser, 401; 2. Jaeger, 350; 3. Forest, 335; 4. Miller, 307; 5 Peller, 295; 6. Lombardo, 215; 7. Hastrup, 205; 8. Foutch, 200; 9. Scott, 190; 10. Bowles, 37; etc.
Next rounds: Phoenix International Raceway, April 3/4.