Hearing about a Frenchman kicking ass and taking names in North America is not a new thing.
And come Sunday, if not sooner, Nico Jamin will be crowned as the next new French champion on U.S. soil.
Jamin enters the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda weekend with a 50-point lead over Jake Eidson.
While mathematically eligible, Eidson realistically needs to win on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and hope Jamin hits trouble early to have a shot on Sunday.
For 19-year-old Jamin of Rouen, France, it’s been a breakout second season in the title after switching to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. He won the Cooper Tires Winterfest preseason and has been on a tear in the regular season. He’s won the last four races in a row, seven of the last nine dating to Barber race two in April and eight overall in 14 races this year. Barber race one, where another driver hit him, stands as his lone finish off the podium all year.
He’d been OK in 2014 racing with Belardi Auto Racing and then Pabst Racing, with one podium finish and 10 top-10 results, en route to ninth in the points. But this year has seen him take it to the next level.
Jamin would join Florian Latorre (2014 USF2000) and Tristan Vautier (2011 Star Mazda, 2012 Indy Lights) as recent French drivers to win championships in the Mazda Road to Indy. Alexandre Baron has also won races in USF2000 and Indy Lights; three Frenchmen currently compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series, in the form of Vautier, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud.
Eidson, only 20 but in his third USF2000 season, needs a bit of help in order to secure the title. The Florida resident realistically needs to gain in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 points on Saturday to have a shot going into Sunday, which is possible but unlikely.
Eidson opened the year with a sweep at St. Petersburg and also won back-to-back races at Lucas Oil Raceway and Toronto race one, but getting beat in all four races since has cost him 41 points to Jamin, having only been down nine points earlier this season.
Eidson raced with Cape last year and has switched to Pabst Racing this year, Jamin’s former team. The switch the other way has paid dividends for Jamin while for Eidson, he’s delivered Pabst its best season in recent years, to even have a shot to content.
Though mathematically ineligible for the title themselves, the story of USF2000 in 2015 would not be complete without mentioning Aaron Telitz, of Rice Lake, Wis. and Australian rookie Anthony Martin. Telitz and Martin rank third and fourth in points for Cape and John Cummiskey Racing, respectively, and have scored the remaining podiums besides Jamin and Eidson all season, except for a total of three races (Victor Franzoni, who moved up to Pro Mazda, has two with Luke Gabin having one).