Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Franzoni dominates in USF2000 in Monterey

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MONTEREY, Calif. – A caution-free, 30-minute race for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Monterey Powered by Mazda, saw Victor Franzoni and ArmsUp Motorsports continue their weekend domination.

The Brazilian led flag-to-flag from pole in the 21-lap race for his second win of the season, fourth in USF2000, and won by 12.9597 seconds.

Franzoni said he was “really calm” throughout the race – hoping not to get too lackadaisical and lose concentration. He thanked ArmsUp engineer John Walko, who said that thanks to a great setup off the truck and an “old school” mentality has paid dividends. Franzoni has finished in the top-five every race since the first of two races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course back in May, so that’s a run of 11 consecutive races.

Behind him, Parker Thompson took second place in the first Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing car and gained three points on Anthony Martin, who finished third after holding off a race-long charge from a pair of his Australian countrymen, Luke Gabin (JAY Motorsports) and Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing).

Thompson made a move on Martin for second place at Turn 6 on Lap 11, which narrowed a 24-point gap at the time to 18, but he’ll still need a bit of help to overcome the deficit on Sunday.

Martin’s lead over Thompson is 18 points (369-351) headed to tomorrow’s season finale. Franzoni, who had a remote mathematical chance only at winning the title, was eliminated, but has clinched third in the championship behind the Cape twins.

Yufeng Luo finished sixth ahead of series debutante Phillippe Denes, the young American who staged an impressive drive for Team Pelfrey to come from 15th to seventh. Full-season rookie Robert Megennis was eighth in another Pelfrey entry with Lucas Kohl and Dakota Dickerson completing the top-10.

An off for Nikita Lastochkin at Turn 6 derailed a potential top-10 for him, while the other series debutantes Kaylen Frederick (13th) and Michael Scott (17th) – failed to figure in the day. Scott incurred a rare mechanical issue for John Cummiskey Racing.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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