NA-F2000: Rodarte wins at IRP

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (May 27, 2001)--Piero Rodarte, of Mexico City, Mexico, won Round Six of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Tommy Constantine, of Greece and Billy Asaro, of Unionville, ...

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (May 27, 2001)--Piero Rodarte, of Mexico City, Mexico, won Round Six of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Tommy Constantine, of Greece and Billy Asaro, of Unionville, Ont., completed the top-three.

After rain postponed the Saturday night race, the field took the green at IRP under a sunny sky in the early evening Sunday. On the opening lap the polesitter, Peter Gray, crashed hard into turn two. Following a ten-lap caution to clean the track, Rodarte led the field to the green flag. Driving the No. 55 Telmex/Sico Van Diemen Ford, Rodarte quickly set the tone for the race, pulling away from Constantine. Rodarte was able to maintain a sizeable lead until he encountered traffic. Constantine used the opportunity to close on Rodarte. Twice, Constantine got alongside, but was never able to take the lead. At the checkered flag, Rodarte had captured his first-career win by 0.552 second. In addition to the win, Rodarte set a new race lap record of 0:21.311 (115.884 mph).

"This is the realization of a dream," said Rodarte. "To become the first Mexican to win a race in the series is a great honor. I think we're finally able to show what the team and myself can do."

After capturing a career-best starting position during qualifying, Constantine did one better in the race, capturing his first career podium finish. At the start of the race, Constantine challenged for the lead and managed to avoid Gray as he crashed in turn two. On the restart, Constantine, in the No. 12 Ouzo12/Cape Motorsports/TCR Van Diemen Ford, dropped back from Rodarte, but maintained a good gap on Mike Potekhen. As the leaders encountered lapped traffic, Constantine used his experience and a good handling car to close in on Rodarte. Twice Constantine attempted to pass for the lead, but was unable to make it stick. The podium finish is Constantine's first in 31 races.

"I like it up here on the podium," said Constantine. "I was on the ragged edge out there. I could catch him in traffic, but just didn't have anything for him in open track."

Driving the No. 69 www.keymotorsport.com/POPS Van Diemen Ford, Asaro strengthened his lead in the championship with a fourth consecutive podium finish. Following the restart, Asaro slowly began moving up through the field. By lap 21 he had moved into third place, after starting seventh. He maintained the position the remainder of the race, never challenging Constantine for position, or being challenged for third place. The third place finish extends Asaro's point standings lead to 41 points over Arie Luyendyk Jr. Moving up four places during the race earned Asaro the Taylor Engineering "Shark" award.

"I'm very happy with the result," said Asaro. "At the start when I saw Peter [Gray] out of the race I thought, take any points I could get. Once I got up to third I just didn't have the car to challenge for the lead. I like ovals, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to the road courses."

Completing the top-five was Arie Luyendyk Jr., of Den Bosch, Holland and Paul Dana, of Indianapolis, Ind. The fourth place finish is Luyendyk Jr.'s third top-five finish of the year.

-US-FF2000

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Piero Rodarte , Paul Dana , Tommy Constantine , Mike Potekhen , Billy Asaro , Arie Luyendyk Jr.