NA-F2000: Pacific F2000 Phoenix results 2005-04-02

Ian Lacy Ends Forest's Streak by Winning the First of Two Pacific F2000 Races in Phoenix Avondale, Ariz. (April 2, 2005) -- Formula Ford 2000 Zetec veteran Ian Lacy made a triumphant debut in the burgeoning Pacific F2000 Championship Presented...

Ian Lacy Ends Forest's Streak by Winning the First of Two Pacific F2000 Races in Phoenix

Avondale, Ariz. (April 2, 2005) -- Formula Ford 2000 Zetec veteran Ian Lacy made a triumphant debut in the burgeoning Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire by qualifying on the pole and then leading throughout this afternoon's 28-lap race on the 1.51-mile combined oval/road course at Phoenix International Raceway.

Lacy didn't have any easy time, however, since he was pressured for most of the distance by the PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04 of series points leader Mike Forest. The Canadian lost ground with a quick spin in Turn One, but quickly made up the deficit and finished less than a second shy of Lacy's Napa Auto Parts/Denso/P1 Racing Van Diemen RF03.

"I tried to run a conservative pace because I wanted to look after my tires for tomorrow's race, but I had to step it up to keep him behind me," said Lacy, who finished sixth in last year's East Coast-based Cooper Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 Zetec cars despite missing the first few races of the season due a to lack of sponsorship. "I want to thank John Lombardo for the opportunity to be here this weekend. It's a wonderful series and very competitive."

After receiving a late invitation to drive the car more usually handled by Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi, Lacy, 30, from Eureka, Calif., immediately showed his gratitude by posting the fastest lap of the impressive 27-car field in morning qualifying. He took full advantage by jumping into the lead from the green flag. Before long, though, he found himself under intense pressure from both Forest and PR1 teammate J.R. Hildebrand.

"Those guys were comin'," said Lacy with a smile.

Shortly before half-distance in the 30-minute race, Hildebrand make a mistake in Turn One and lost the draft of the leaders. Then Forest also tried to carry a little bit too much speed into the same corner, and spun.

"We struggled this morning," related Forest. "We made some changes to the car for the race and it was better, but I just got in there a bit too deep."

Fortunately, Forest was able to resume still in second place. And by the finish he was right on Lacy's tail once more.

"That was the hardest race of the year," said Forest, who had won each of the opening four races. "It's getting more and more competitive. From second through 18th in qualifying were separated by less than a second.

"Ian Lacy's a great driver, everybody knows that, and I'm happy that I was able to hang with him. I think, had I not made my one mistake, I might have had something for him today. Still, there's always tomorrow...."

Hildebrand also posted a strong charge after his miscue, posting the fastest lap of the race -- worth two championship points -- for the fourth time in five races since stepping up from the SCCA Formula Russell Championship. Lacy's benefactor, John Lombardo, finished fourth in his identical Napa Auto Parts/Denso Van Diemen, while Tom Hope once again was the best-placed of the Pinto-engined contingent in fifth.

Visiting New Yorker Jesse Yorio -- who was seeking to gain some experience in his quest for an SCCA National Championship title this year -- ran among the top five in the early going in his Pinto-powered Van Diemen RF01, only to be penalized for allegedly jumping the start. The penalty was rendered moot when he suffered a tire problem and retired after 19 laps.

Tim Harris also fell foul of officialdom. Making his first start at PIR in 15 years, Harris moved up well from ninth on the grid. He passed Hope for fifth a few laps before the finish, but, controversially, had to relinquish the position after he was adjudged to have strayed more than two wheels off the course in Turn Four.

Others to show well included 2004 SCCA Formula Ford 1600 National Champion Scott Rarick, who qualified a fine third before spinning off after just a handful of laps, and Clark Cambern, who started sixth but succumbed to a rare engine ailment.

Greg Minium, who finished a career-best fourth in the most recent race in Las Vegas, failed to take the start when an electrical gremlin manifested itself on the pre-grid. Happily, since his crew had located the source of the problem, he will have one more chance to shine this weekend when the field reconvenes for Round Six of the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire tomorrow (Sunday).

Round 5 results (28 laps):
1. Ian Lacy (Van Diemen RF03), 30m 10.314s; 2. Mike Forest (Mygale SJ04); 3. J.R. Hildebrand (Mygale SJ04); 4. John Lombardo Jr. (Van Diemen RF02); 5. Tom Hope (Van Diemen RF98-Ivey/Pinto); 6. Tim Harris (Van Diemen RF03); 7. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03); 8. Robert Podlesni (Van Diemen RF03); 9. Ted Guenther (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto); 10. Bob Negron (Van Diemen RF99); 11. Doug da Costa (Van Diemen RF02); 12. Al Salvo (Mygale SJ04); 13. Peter Hansel (Van Diemen RF02); 14. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02); 15. Les Phillips (Mygale SJ04); 16. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF94-Loyning/Pinto); 17. Jim Bryant (Van Diemen RF00-Ivey/Pinto); 18. Chris Hundley (Van Diemen RF05): 19. Steven M. Kries (Van Diemen RF01); 20. Paul Marciano Jr. (Van Diemen RF03); 21. Jesse Yorio (Van Diemen RF01/Quicksilver/Pinto); 22. Carl Scott (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 23. Scott Rarick (Van Diemen RF03); 24. Clark Cambern (Van Diemen RF03); 25 Efrain Olivares Jr. (Van Diemen RF97-Ivey/Pinto); 26 Dennis Goughary (Carbir DS3-Elite/Pinto); Did not start: Greg Minium (Mygale SJ04).

Fastest qualifier: Lacy, 59.851s, 90.826 mph.
Fastest race lap: Hildebrand, 1m 00.731s, 89.509 mph.

Margin of victory: 0.905 seconds

Championship points, after five of 12 races:
1. Forest, 106; 2. Hildebrand, 84; 3. Harris, 49; 4. Brad Jaeger, 43; 5. Lombardo, 39; 6 Podlesni, 32; 7. Cambern, 24; 8. Lacy, 22; 9. Hope, 21; 10 Greg Minium, Rarick & Foutch 17; etc.

Next round: Phoenix International Raceway, Ariz., April 3.

-js-

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Hans Peter , Al Salvo , Brad Jaeger , Ian Lacy , J.R. Hildebrand , Greg Minium , Mike Forest