Jamin (far right) with the Cape family/team. Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Jamin drives to dominant title in USF2000

Leave a comment

For the first six of 16 races, the scoreboard on wins in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship looked pretty balanced: Nico Jamin two, Jake Eidson two, Aaron Telitz one, Victor Franzoni one.

Then the final 10 races happened, where Jamin won eight of them, including the last six in a row.

Only Eidson broke up the Jamin train as it powered throughout the countryside en route to this year’s USF2000 title.

Jamin is the latest in the line of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing champions in USF2000 – the team’s fifth consecutive after Florian Latorre, Scott Hargrove, Matthew Brabham and Petri Suvanto dating to 2011.

Arguably Jamin enjoyed the most dominant season out of that quintet. After winning the Cooper Tires Winterfest, Jamin followed it up with these accolades in the 16-race regular season:

Nico Jamin‘s 2015 record-breaking USF2000 year:
  • Wins in 2015: 10 wins out of 16.
  • Six consecutive victories.
  • Most poles in USF2000 history: 13 (USF2000 series record).
  • Most poles in a season: 13 out of 16 (USF2000 series record).
  • Most consecutive poles: 12 (USF2000 series record).
  • Most podiums in a season: 15 (USF2000 series record).
  • First driver to sweep all three legs of a triple-header (Mid-Ohio) since the formation of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder program in 2010.
  • First driver to win back-to-back races and kiss the bricks the same weekend at Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
  • First driver to win the Winterfest championship and the season championship in the same year.
  • 2015 Cooper Tires Winterfest Champion (1 win, 4 podiums and 2 poles).

Yet when he stood on the verge of clinching the title after his latest pole-to-win, flag-to-flag romp at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Jamin didn’t let the pressure get to him in the first of two races of the weekend.

“To be honest with you, it’s been the longest race of my life,” Jamin told reporters after Saturday’s race there. “The first or second lap I got a big gap, so it was, don’t do any mistakes. I was so close. Don’t take any risk, don’t take any big curbs. But it was a really long race.”

In reflecting on the year on a whole, it was the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend – Jamin’s first of three weekend sweeps this year (Mid-Ohio, Mazda Raceway) – that turned the tide from being a mere part of the “Nico, Jake and Aaron” show to the leading character.

Mid-Ohio, with a three-race weekend sweep, removed any remaining doubt this was Jamin’s title to secure.

“Obviously the Grand Prix of Indy was a great weekend for us,” Jamin told MotorSportsTalk at Mazda Raceway. “We swept the weekend. At Lucas Oil, Jake came back strong, and then Jake won the first race in Toronto.

“But for us, Mid-Ohio was the real turn of the season. Winning all three races, getting the (points) gap was the biggest turn of the year.”

Jamin’s second year in USF2000 was made easier than his first by virtue of being with the Capes all season. He’d split the 2014 campaign between Belardi Auto Racing and Pabst Racing, both of which are respectable outfits but had not achieved the accolades that Dominic and Nicholas Cape’s team has.

“Having a single home this year was great. This team is like a family, all working together,” Jamin said. “We’re all having a lot of fun outside the track. It’s been an incredible year with these guys. I cannot thank them enough.”

Asked to pinpoint the one thing he improved most upon this year, it was qualifying.

“The main points, most important points, was qualifying sessions,” Jamin explained. “Last year I wasn’t able to qualify at the front. So in midpack, the midfield, there’s more chances to get crashed in the pack at the start. Starting every race front row every single race has made it easier this year.”

Jamin earned a scholarship just over $381,000 from Mazda to advance into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires next year, and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.