Britain's Jay Howard Secures Cooper Series Clean Sweep at Road Atlanta Braselton, Ga. (April 16, 2005) -- Jay Howard maintained his dominant form in the Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars by sweeping to his second...
Britain's Jay Howard Secures Cooper Series Clean Sweep at Road Atlanta
Braselton, Ga. (April 16, 2005) -- Jay Howard maintained his dominant form in the Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars by sweeping to his second victory in two days at Road Atlanta.
The 24-year-old Englishman used some robust tactics to wrest the lead from pole-sitter Jason Bowles on the first lap, then controlled the remainder of the 18-lap race in Aiken Racing's British Racing Drivers Club/2810 Web Design/Sutton Images Van Diemen RF02 Zetec.
"What can I say? I just want to thank everyone for doing a magnificent job," said a delighted Howard. "My engineer, John Hayes, wasn't here this weekend because his mom's in the hospital, but we spoke on the phone several times, and both he and (team owner) Marshall (Aiken) have worked so hard for this. It's just great."
Bowles, 22, from Ontario, Calif., started from the pole by virtue of posting the fastest lap in yesterday's race and made an excellent getaway from the green flag to lead into the first corner. Howard, however, immediately tucked in tightly behind the JDC Motorsports City-Wide Electronics/Sparco/Zimmler Developments Van Diemen RF03.
"That was my plan," revealed Howard. "Just slot in there and then pass him into the chicane."
Toward the end of the first lap, under braking for Turn 10 at the end of the long back straightaway, Howard executed his plan to perfection -- albeit not from Bowles' perspective.
"We were side-by-side under braking and he just pushed me onto the dirt," claimed the irate Californian.
Bowles did well to recover control of his car, but by then Howard was long gone in the lead.
"I got my head down and just pushed, pushed, pushed," said Howard. "We made some changes to the car from yesterday and it felt quite a bit different, but it was good. I managed to get a nice gap and then just put it on cruise control."
Bowles was never able to get back on terms but still finished a strong second -- especially impressive given that he had not so much as sat in his car prior to Thursday's test day.
"I wanted to win but hey, under the circumstances, two second places is a pretty good result," said the gifted young American.
Chris Guerrieri started third in the second Aiken Racing Van Diemen, which had been completely rebuilt following a major crash on Friday. Handling problems restricted the 2003 Canadian Formula Ford Champion's efforts, however -- the front anti-roll bar had become disconnected -- and he slipped to fifth at the finish behind Cooper Tires debutants Joey Foster and Nick Haye.
Foster, 22, from Truro, England, drove a sensational race in his Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF01. He started a lowly 20th following his accident in Friday's race and charged to third by lap 11, but by then the leaders were too far ahead to mount any kind of a challenge.
"Someone spun at the first corner, so everyone was backing up which made things a bit difficult, but after that the race went well," he related. "It's a shame the leaders got away -- and that there wasn't a full-course caution (to close up the pack) -- but I'm still pretty pleased."
Haye, 17, from Huntington Beach, Calif., again drove sensibly -- and impressively -- on his professional debut to notch his second fourth-place finish in as many days for the JDC Motorsports team.
Franklin Futrelle, from Augusta, Ga., also drove a spectacular race in his Comprent Motorsports Van Diemen RF03, rising from 31st on the grid to wrest sixth place from Cooper Masters winner Enzo Potolicchio (Citgo/Stanford Financial Group/Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF03) at Turn 10 on the final lap.
For the second straight day, Ricardo Vassmer (UltraLub/Comprent Van Diemen RF01) won the Cooper Gold Cup Series class (for older Pinto-engined cars), finishing in 23rd place overall.
Time of race: 25 minutes, 37.223 seconds.
Average speed: 107.071 mph
Margin of victory: 4.364 seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-18, #22 Jay Howard
Fastest race lap: #22 Jay Howard, 1:24.264 (108.516 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #22 Jason Bowles, 1:24.681 (107.982 mph)