NA-F2000: Watkins Glen race one report

By Russell Jaslow - Normally, the front row is a good spot to start a race, but for Round 4 of the US F2000 National Championship, it was not the place to be, as an apparent curse was placed on the first two starters. Billy...

By Russell Jaslow -

Normally, the front row is a good spot to start a race, but for Round 4 of the US F2000 National Championship, it was not the place to be, as an apparent curse was placed on the first two starters.

Billy Asaro took advantage of the misfortunates of others as well as an excellent start from seventh to work his way to the front en route to his second victory of the year and into the points lead, by 12 over Peter Gray.

The quickly rising 19-year-old star drove his 2001 Van Diemen Ford to a 4.913 second margin of victory over Tom Dyer. The Canadian finished the 54.4 mile race in a time of 34:31.741.

Asaro didn't hide his enthusiasm. "Oh, it was awesome," Asaro said.

Mike Andersen was the aggressor on the start which saw the field perfectly lined up. Andersen swept around the pole sitter, Memo Rojas, from his outside position going through Turn 1 to grab the early lead.

Points leader Rojas would be the first to suffer the front row curse with his Telmex 2001 Van Diemen. Entering the Inner Loop, he appeared to hit the curb too hard which pitched his car around and off into the gravel trap, which lived up to its name.

A full course yellow was brought out to get Rojas, and by the time he was pulled out, he was a lap behind. The end result -- Rojas dropped all the way to fourth in the points chase.

Meanwhile, up front after the restart, Andersen was briefly in control of the race while Asaro was already up to third which quickly became second when he passed Jason LaPoint on the fourth lap. Andersen was next in his sights.

The F2000 series makes you start with the same tires you qualified on. Andersen's tires seemed to be going away after working them hard the day before. Asaro closed up, but it took him awhile to make the pass.

After many attempts, he finally did going into the Inner Loop. "He was strong there," Asaro spoke of Andersen. "I pushed him. I squeezed the pass out."

Suddenly, three turns later, Andersen's Valvoline/Pi Research 2000 Van Diemen slowed without warning, a possible victim of electrical woes. The front row curse was complete.

Asaro was partially sympathetic, "He drove an awesome race, and it's too bad what happened to him, but that's racing, and I'll take it."

This lifted any pressure from Asaro who cruised to victory over Tom Dyer's Cycle Shack Inc./Paladin Associates 2001 Van Diemen.

"There was a lot of commotion going on," Dyer explained his race, "and it left me by myself, and I just tried to put some laps together and catch up to Billy Asaro."

However, there was still excitement left behind them. Tonis Kasemets passed Jason LaPoint for third. LaPoint tried to counter that move going into Turn 1, but just as he decided to back off, Kasemets looped it. LaPoint went off trying to avoid the spinning car only to end up in the gravel trap.

Kasemets continued on, eventually finishing in 11th. His consolation prize was getting the fastest time of the race with a 1:52.824 lap, good for 108.48 mph.

This left Paul Dana and his Forsythe/CAPCO Abrasives/Klein Tls/Mate 2001 Van Diemen in third sport. He was thrilled with the podium finish.

"This is amazing," he said. "I'm a rookie this year. To finish on the podium in only the third weekend is phenomenal. Hopefully, this is a good sign."

The drive through the field belonged to Daniel Muniz who started 27th and last due to a crash in qualifying, but gained 17 positions for a 10th place finish. However, it was JW Urlin who was awarded the Taylor Engineering "Shark" award for moving up from 17th to 7th.

Arie Luyendyk, Jr. finished fourth, a career best, and Peter Gray rounded out the top five.

The American Continental Championship win went to Billy Hager beating Scott Rubenzer by 7.276 seconds. Hager believes he can go faster. "The car was good," Hager said. "I was just about 20 or 30 pounds too heavy for the class, so I got to lose some weight on the car and myself." Hager extends his point lead over Rubenzer.

The field does it all again in the second race of this double event tomorrow at 9:50 A.M. This time Andersen starts from the pole and Alexander Figge is gridded next to him. They will be hoping the front row curse is lifted.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Memo Rojas , Paul Dana , Tonis Kasemets , Billy Asaro , Tom Dyer