LEXINGTON, OH – Rising young American star Austin Cindric will make his Pirelli World Challenge debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge Presented by StopTech weekend. He’ll be in an entry that will raise awareness and funding for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove, of Conifer, Col., will race the car in Saturday’s Round 11 with Cindric taking over on Sunday for Round 12.
Cindric, 15, plans to race a rare quadruple header during the Mid-Ohio weekend. In addition to his three scheduled USF2000 races, which is his primary program for the 2014 racing season, Cindric has been added to the driver lineup of the No. 55 Special Operations Warrior Foundation Ford Mustang Boss 302S for Sunday’s Round 12 of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship.
A native of Columbus, Ohio who now lives in Mooresville, N.C., Cindric has experience at the Mid-Ohio track, as well as with the car he will be piloting having raced a similar Ford Mustang 500R at Miller Motorsports Park. Besides his USF2000 program, Cindric is also competing in the Red Bull Global Rallycross’ GRC Lites category this season, and has recently tested other forms of machinery in an effort to broaden his career horizons. Running a Pirelli World Challenge Mustang is merely his latest endeavor.
“Racing one race in one weekend is pretty cool, but doing four at a track like Mid-Ohio is a pretty awesome opportunity. And anytime you’re helping someone while you’re driving, it’s a win-win situation,” Cindric said. “The car diversity will be a great test of how I can drive, what I can drive and see how I can do,” he added. “I’ll take it like a normal weekend. When my third USF2000 race is done I can really focus and look at the data, figure out what I need to do, and have fun.”
The No. 55 Mustang, fielded by Capaldi Racing, is a charity entry designed for both fundraising and raising awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The foundation ensures full financial assistance for a post-secondary degree from an accredited two or four-year college, university, technical, or trade school; as well as educational and family counseling to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty.
Bove will make his first series start since last year’s Circuit of the Americas race weekend in Austin.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with Austin, Brad Adams and Capaldi Racing at Mid-Ohio raising some good awareness and funding for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” said Bove. “The SOWF has a special place in the hearts of the series. They do excellent work for the families of the men and women that have served for our country and we want to help give back to honor their efforts.”
Cindric, who will be a high school sophomore in the fall, will become the youngest competitor to race in Pirelli World Challenge GTS this season. He is the second 15-year-old to compete in the category in series history.
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.
Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.
Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.
Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.