Mike Forest Completes Sweep of Pacific F2000 Championship's California Speedway Opener Fontana, Calif. (January 30, 2005) -- Canadian Mike Forest grasped an early advantage in the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson ...
Mike Forest Completes Sweep of Pacific F2000 Championship's California Speedway Opener
Fontana, Calif. (January 30, 2005) -- Canadian Mike Forest grasped an early advantage in the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire, taking the checkered flag this afternoon to complete a weekend double at California Speedway. Forest, a university student from Edmonton, Alberta, also extended his winning streak to four races, having won the final two races of the 2004 season at Infineon Raceway.
For the second day running, Forest was chased home by Sausalito, Calif., high school student J.R. Hildebrand, while defending series champion Brad Jaeger, from Cincinnati, Ohio, ensured a clean sweep of the podium for Bobby Oergel's Fresno, Calif.-based PR1 Motorsports team. All three drove identical Mygale SJ04 chassis.
Forest again started from the pole, with Hildebrand qualifying alongside on the front row of the grid. Unlike on Saturday, however, when Forest had to work extremely hard for his laurels, this time he had a slightly easier time of things as a succession of incidents took place in his mirrors, ensuring that all but two of the first 10 laps of the 16-lap race were completed under a full-course caution. Among those in trouble were Hildebrand, who was pushed off onto the grass on the first lap, falling to ninth place. A little later on the same lap, rookie Clark Cambern (from Lansing, Mich.), who had qualified an impressive third fastest, threw away his good work by indulging in a spin which dropped him to the back of the pack.
Following one of the restarts, on Lap Seven, while battling for second place, Mark Peller (Irvine, Calif.) left his braking a little too late going onto the infield section and careened into the rear of John Lombardo Jr. (Brea, Calif.). Exit two more front-runners from contention.
Tim Harris, from Irvine, pressured Forest at the final restart, after 10 laps, but the Canadian kept his cool and was able to pull away for the victory.
"The car was handling so well," said Forest. "Tim made a couple of mistakes, so I just concentrated on laying down some good laps and I was able to get away."
Hildebrand, meanwhile, was charging back toward the front, despite damaging his car's nosecone when he ran wide soon after the final restart while in fifth place. Undeterred, the teenager picked off fellow rookie Robert Podlesni (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Harris and then Jaeger on successive laps to finish a strong second.
Also noteworthy was the performance of 63-year-old Les Phillips. The veteran from Bakersfield, Calif., had been unable to race on Saturday due to an engine problem, but overnight work by his small team, and with assistance from engine guru Jay Ivey, saw him qualify strongly in eighth -- comfortably fastest of those running the older Pinto motors. Phillips rose briefly to third place in the race before having to take evasive action when the incident between Lombardo and Peller occurred directly in front of him. Phillips slipped back to 10th, but fought his way back to sixth by the finish: "That was a kick," he exclaimed.
The 26-car field and plenty of good, close racing represented an extremely promising beginning to the 2005 Pacific F2000 Championship season, which will continue with another pair of races, again run in conjunction with the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA), at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 19-20.
Round 2 results (16 laps): 1.Mike Forest (Mygale SJ04), 37m 03.727s; 2. J.R. Hildebrand (Mygale SJ04); 3. Brad Jaeger (Mygale SJ04); 4. Tim Harris (Van Diemen RF03); 5. Robert Podlesni (Van Diemen RF03); 6. Les Phillips (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto); 7. Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Van Diemen RF02); 8. Clark Cambern (Van Diemen RF03); 9. Al Salvo (Mygale SJ04); 10. Greg Minium (Mygale SJ04); 11. Bill Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 12. Paul Marciano Jr. (Van Diemen RF03); 13. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF94-Loyning/Pinto); 14. Steven Kries (Van Diemen RF01); 15. Dennis Goughary (Carbir DS3-Elite/Pinto); 16. Gary Peterson (Crossle 71F-DFR/Pinto); 17. Scott Rarick (Van Diemen RF03); 18. Dennis Russell (Van Diemen RF99-Elite/Pinto); 19. Mark Peller (Van Diemen RF03); 20. John Lombardo Jr. (Van Diemen RF02); 21. Gary LaHaie (Van Diemen RF03); 22. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02); 23. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03); 24. Tom Hope (Van Diemen RF98-Ivey/Pinto); Did not start: Bob Negron (Van Diemen RF99); Efrain Olivares Jr. (Van Diemen RF97-Ivey/Pinto);
Fastest qualifier: Forest, 1m 42.579s, 101.073 mph.
Fastest race lap: Hildebrand, 1m 42.885s, 100.773 mph.
Margin of victory: 4.061 seconds
Championship points, after two of 12 races: 1. Forest, 44; 2. Hildebrand, 36; 3. Harris, 26; 4. Jaeger, 24; 5. Podlesni, 16; 6. Lombardo, 13; 7. Peller & Cambern, 9; 9. Phillips, 8; 10, Tirinnanzi, 7; etc.
Next round: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 19-20.