Two races at Barber Motorsports Park complete the pre-season mini-series for the Mazda Road to Indy.
A dramatic pair of Cooper Tires USF200 Championship Powered by Mazda races in bitterly cold conditions at Barber Motorsports Park saw young Frenchman Nico Jamin edge Brazilian Victor Franzoni to the fifth annual Cooper Tires Winterfest title. American Jake Eidson, who won two of three races at NOLA Motorsports Park, also was in the thick of the action until his Pabst Racing entry was cruelly hobbled by a fuel pump failure while holding second place in the early stages of the final race.
The pre-season series was cut short by one race following the cancellation of Wednesday’s track activities due to heavy rain.
Eidson, 19, from Littleton, Colo., was in the catbird seat after finishing a close second to Franzoni on Thursday morning. He also posted the fastest race lap, ensuring him of pole position and an additional two championship points entering the afternoon mini-series finale. With his pair of wins last week at NOLA Motorsports Park, Eidson needed only a seventh-place finish to secure the series crown.
A brilliant move around the outside of Turn 1 gave Franzoni the lead for Afterburner Autosport. Eidson tucked in behind, only for his car to grind to a halt before the end of the opening lap. His car was brought back to the pits but there was no easy fix; his title hopes had been dashed.
After another full-course caution when MAZDASPEED Scholarship winner Luke Gabin (Team Pelfrey) hit the wall at the exit of Turn 17, Franzoni held onto his lead at the restart but he couldn’t shake off Jamin, driving for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Then, with just three laps remaining, a mistake by Franzoni at the final corner gave Jamin the opportunity to nip past – and secure the Cooper Tires Winterfest crown by a scant five-point margin, 136-131.
Aside from suspension failure at NOLA while battling for the lead with Eidson, Jamin was a model of consistency with a trio of podium finishes, including a third-place result Thursday morning before the finale.
Australian rookie Anthony Martin capped a successful initial foray to North America by finishing fourth in the first Barber race for John Cummiskey Racing and adding another podium in the second, complementing the third-place finish he secured at NOLA. The results catapulted him to fourth in the overall standings, just two points ahead of Jamin’s Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Aaron Telitz, who crashed at the first corner Thursday morning and then charged through the pack to fourth in the finale after starting 14th. Telitz also set the fastest race lap.
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing comfortably won the Team Championship with 158 points to the 116 of John Cummiskey Racing.
The regular season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda opens on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 28-29.