HOMESTEAD, FLA., APRIL 9: Driver Paul Dana improved during just his second pro race weekend Mar. 7-8 by qualifying in the top-10 for both Round 2 and Round 3 of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at the Infinity Grand...
HOMESTEAD, FLA., APRIL 9: Driver Paul Dana improved during just his second pro race weekend Mar. 7-8 by qualifying in the top-10 for both Round 2 and Round 3 of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at the Infinity Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway. However, both races ended in disappointment for the Indianapolis-based rookie, as he got taken out early in the first race and a lack of straight-line speed removed him from contention in the second.
Dana out-qualified his more experienced teammate for both events. The driver of the #44 Forsythe Racing/CAPCO Abrasives/Klein Tools/Mate Precision Tooling Van Diemen-Quicksilver Ford lined up ninth for both races, with qualifying times of 45.118 and 44.896 seconds, respectively, around the 1.4-mile modified oval.
"I was feeling pretty good after qualifying," Dana said. "It was my first crack at single-car qualifying. You get two timed laps and that's it. I didn't quite know what to expect because in testing and practice it was taking me about five laps to build momentum, get the tires working and hit a rhythm. But the AIM Autosport crew gave me a good car and I was able to nail the laps when it mattered. It was a big improvement over where we had run in practice. And it's good to come into a new team and make them take notice."
Unfortunately, the potential from qualifying went to waste almost immediately. Just four laps into the first race on Saturday afternoon Dana got hit by another competitor and suffered suspension damage that ended his run.
"He got a nose inside me going into the right-hand part of the right-left S turn that leads onto the front straight. I gave him room, but as we turned in for the left, he didn't return the favor and just came down. It's an intense series but usually everyone gives each at least a little racing room. Not this guy, I guess."
Race two was little better. At the start Dana immediately started falling back, giving up several positions over the first several laps.
"There was a problem with the car that affected its straight-line speed," race engineer John Walko said. "The data showed Paul was 4-5 mph slower on top end than his teammate. He got drafted by everyone and couldn't redraft them in return. It will be a few days before we can get the car back in the shop and have a look to try to find the problem."
In an attrition-filled race that saw cars flying off the track and hitting each other regularly, Dana salvaged what he could by staying clean and coming home 11th.
"I was a sitting duck. It definitely was the longest hour of my life," Dana said. "This is tough because we've gotten a very slow start to the season, but the good news is we are getting better each time out. I'm actually very confident heading in to the Glen."
Next up for the U.S. F2000 National Championship is the Sports Car Grand Prix of Watkins Glen in May 17-20 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
-Paul Dana racing