NA-F2000: Pacific F2000: Las Vegas round 3 notes

Mike Forest Continues Pacific F2000 Championship Sweep at Las Vegas Opener Las Vegas, Nev. (March 19, 2005) -- After winning the opening two rounds of the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire at California ...

Mike Forest Continues Pacific F2000 Championship Sweep at Las Vegas Opener

Las Vegas, Nev. (March 19, 2005) -- After winning the opening two rounds of the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire at California Speedway in January, Mike Forest kept his streak alive by scoring another fine victory this afternoon at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course.

The 23-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, qualified his PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04 on the pole ahead of a strong 29-car field in morning qualifying and led throughout the 14-lap race, although he was never able to relax with teenaged teammate J.R. Hildebrand hot on his heels, especially in the closing stages.

"The start worked out real well for me and it was clean, so that was nice," said Forest, displaying a nice tone of understatement.

Forest pulled out a slight advantage in the early stages, only for his lead to be negated by a full-course caution after P-1 Racing teammates Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi and Chris Hundley got together in Turn Five. ("I feel so bad because it wasn't his fault at all," said Tirinnanzi magnanimously.)

Forest again led the way at the restart, only this time Hildebrand stayed glued to his tail.

"I made a couple of changes to the car [using the cockpit-mounted roll-bar adjuster] during the yellow, and the car was really good," said Hildebrand, 17, from Sausalito, Calif. "It helped but it just wasn't enough to be able to make a run on Mike. I was fast in the wrong places on the track and I was slow in the places you want to be fast."

The young rookie therefore had to be content with his third second-place finish in a row, and once again gained some consolation by securing the two bonus points on offer for posting the fastest lap of the race. The margin of victory for Forest was a mere seven-tenths of a second, and the Canadian admitted he made a mistake with just over one lap remaining which almost allowed his rival to get on terms.

"I made it a bit closer than I should have," he said, "but luckily I was able to lay one [fast time] down on the last lap and it worked out well." Tim Harris (Home Loans 4 USA/Mihms Truck Repair/Ray Stephens Racing Van Diemen RF03) once more was the fastest Van Diemen-mounted challenger. The Irvine, Calif., resident held off a race-long challenge from Brea, Calif.'s John Lombardo Jr. and afterward reckoned he should be in good shape for tomorrow's second race of the weekend.

"I was driving the wheels off that thing to hold onto those two kids," said Harris with a smile. "[My car] was actually better than them in a couple of places [around the two-mile track] but not really where it mattered [in terms of being able to pose a challenge]. I'm going to make a couple changes [to the car this evening] and see if I can run with them tomorrow."

"Tim did a nice job," praised Lombardo, who finished less than a second behind in his Napa Auto Parts/Denso/P-1 Racing Van Diemen RF02. "I was always right on his bumper and he never made a mistake."

Tom Hope ran fifth for much of the race in the fastest of the Pinto-engined contenders, but when the green flag waved for the restart, he was forced to check up in order not to hit Lombardo and was hit squarely from behind by defending series champion Brad Jaeger (PR1 Motorsports Mygale). Jaeger came off worst as his car's nosecone went flying and he dropped to 10th place by the finish.

Hope continued, but the rear wing on his H&H Motorsports Van Diemen RF98 had been damaged in the impact and he lost a position to a hard-charging Robert Podlesni (Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen RF02) at Turn Two. The teenager held on for fifth, while Hope took sixth and put himself in prime position to win a color television/DVD player combo which has been offered by two-car Zetec entrant Dave Freitas for the Pinto runner who earns most points during the weekend.

Another qualifying session will be held on Sunday morning, with the race scheduled to start at 1.10 p.m.

Round 3 results (14 laps): 1.Mike Forest (Mygale SJ04), 23m 39.712s; 2. J.R. Hildebrand (Mygale SJ04); 3. Tim Harris (Van Diemen RF03); 4. John Lombardo Jr. (Van Diemen RF02); 5. Robert Podlesni (Van Diemen RF03); 6. Tom Hope (Van Diemen RF98-Ivey/Pinto); 7. Scott Rarick (Van Diemen RF03); 8. Al Salvo (Mygale SJ04); 9. Clark Cambern (Van Diemen RF03); 10. Brad Jaeger (Mygale SJ04); 11. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02); 12. Jesse Yorio (Van Diemen RF01/Quicksilver/Pinto); 13. Greg Minium (Mygale SJ04); 14. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF94-Loyning/Pinto); 15. Jim Bryant (Van Diemen-Ivey/Pinto); 16. Bob Negron (Van Diemen RF99); 17. Ted Guenther (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto); 18. Efrain Olivares Jr. (Van Diemen RF97-Ivey/Pinto); 19. Doug da Costa (Van Diemen RF02); 20. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03); 21. Dennis Goughary (Carbir DS3-Elite/Pinto); 22. Jeremy Shaw (Van Diemen RF02); 23. Bill Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 24. Steven M. Kries (Van Diemen RF01); 25 Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Van Diemen RF02); 26 Shaun Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 27 Chris Hundley (Van Diemen RF05): 28 Gary Peterson (Crossle 71F-DFR/Pinto); Did not start: Les Phillips (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto).

Fastest qualifier: Forest, 1m 26.344s, 83.387 mph.
Fastest race lap: Hildebrand, 1m 26.407s, 83.327 mph.
Margin of victory: 0.754 seconds

Championship points, after three of 12 races: 1. Forest, 66; 2. Hildebrand, 54; 3. Harris, 40; 4. Jaeger, 27; 5. Podlesni, 26; 6. Lombardo, 25; 7. Cambern, 13; 8. Hope & Salvo, 10; 10. Mark Peller, 9; etc.

Next round: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 20.

-js-

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Gary Peterson , Jeremy Shaw , Al Salvo , Brad Jaeger , J.R. Hildebrand , Greg Minium , Mike Forest