MONTEREY, Calif. – Anthony Martin has secured the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship, and has become the sixth different driver in succession for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing to claim the series title.
The 21-year-old Australian won seven races this season and finished second today in the 16th and final round of 2016 to secure the title and the Mazda advancement scholarship of $363,000 that goes with it to advance to the next level on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Martin joins the previous five champions for Cape, who are Nico Jamin (2015), Florian Latorre (2014), Scott Hargrove (2013), Matthew Brabham (2012) and Petri Suvanto (2011).
Martin opened the day with an 18-point lead over teammate Parker Thompson and ended it with an 21-point margin, unofficially (394-373), to secure the crown. Martin won seven races to Thompson’s four this season.
Up front, Victor Franzoni won his third race of the season and second this weekend, at the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Monterey Powered by Mazda, to complete a weekend sweep for ArmsUp Motorsports.
Franzoni got out to a 2.2865-second lead on the opening lap of the race while the Cape twins battled behind them, and set sail from there to a final winning margin of 10.1026 seconds.
Thompson got Martin for second off the line, before Martin made an ambitious, determined move by Thompson to the inside at Rainey Corner, Turn 9, to get him back for second, where he stayed.
The order stabilized right there with Franzoni drawing away, Martin holding station in second and Thompson in third. Thompson stayed close to Martin’s rear wing but unlike on Saturday, he was unable to make it past his teammate for position.
As on Saturday, Martin’s countrymen Jordan Lloyd and Luke Gabin completed the top five, albeit in a different order. Lloyd gained a spot from yesterday to today to end fourth for Pabst Racing, while Gabin brought his JAY Motorsports car home in fifth. Nikita Lastochkin was sixth in the third Cape car.
Of note, Robert Megennis made a late-race pass of Yufeng Luo for seventh, a spin dropped Pabst’s Garth Rickards back in the field, and John Cummiskey Racing’s Michael Scott finished his first series race.
Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske believes the latest revised schedule for 2020 will change his approach to the season.
The new schedule has the defending IndyCar champion looking at ways to double the possibilities for a second consecutive championship.
“When I look at the whole schedule they released now, I look at it as double-points as a whole in all of them,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com Monday. “Iowa is double points on a short oval. There are double points at the Indy GP because there are two races and a road course. Then double points at Laguna, which is a different road course than IMS. And there is double points in the Indianapolis 500.”
“Those are four events where you have to be quite strong,” Newgarden said. “They are all very different from each other. Each one is critical to get right. Iowa has a chance to be the most difficult. From a physical standpoint, it’s already a physical track for one race. To double it up on one weekend will be quite the toll for the drivers.
“It will be a very big test physically to see who will get that weekend right. You can bag a lot of points because of it.”
Just 12 days after the first schedule revision, IndyCar officials announced another revised schedule Monday because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The new schedule features doubleheader weekends at Iowa Speedway in July and Laguna Seca in September. There is an additional race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3.
That race will be known as the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix. It will be the second time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history that an IndyCar race is held in the fall. The only other time was the Harvest Auto Racing Classic, a series of three races won by Johnny Aitken on Sept. 9, 1916.
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for May 30-31 will be dropped from the 2020 schedule. Michigan has a “Stay at Home” order that won’t be lifted in time to start construction of the Belle Isle street course.
Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said the Detroit event will return in 2021.
The IMS road course essentially will have a doubleheader spaced out by nearly three months. The first race will be the GMR IndyCar Grand Prix on July 4, and the second will be Oct. 3 in the Harvest Grand Prix.
The extra doubleheaders combined with the loss of Detroit gives IndyCar a 15-race schedule for 2020. It started out as a 17-race campaign, but April’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Acura Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the AutoNation IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) have been canceled. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being revived as the season finale on a TBA weekend in October.
Newgarden also is excited about the chance to run at Indianapolis for three major races in one season. Of course, that all depends on how soon IndyCar can return to action because of the global pandemic.
“I’m continually excited about the thought of getting back to the race track,” Newgarden said. “We would love to be there now, but we can’t. With the current situation, everyone is trying to do the best they can to pitch in and do their part so we can get back to the track as quickly as possible.
“I’m excited to get back to racing at some point in the future. To see that is planned to start at Texas is still great. IndyCar has done a great job staying active and fluid with the ever-changing dynamics and current situation.
“We have three opportunities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are a lot of chances to get it right at the Mecca of our sport.
“I have a lot of trust and faith in IndyCar and Roger, and they are doing their best to stay on top of the situation.”
The one downer to the revised schedule is the loss of the Detroit doubleheader, a very important weekend to Team Penske because Roger Penske also owns the Detroit race. It’s a chance to showcase the series in front of as “Motor City” crowd, which is also the home to the Penske Corp.
“It’s a shame that we miss any event this year,” Newgarden said. “As a racer, you look forward to each one of them. If any of them drop off, it’s a tough pill. Detroit is more so because it is such an important race for us at Team Penske. It’s in our backyard for Penske Corp. Also, our relationship with Chevrolet, how much they put I that event and try to get it right for everybody involved. It’s tough to not have a go at that this year.
“I think of the volunteers. The Detroit weekend is so well run and executed with such a positive momentum behind it for the last eight years that I’ve gone there. I’ve always enjoyed that weekend off the back of the Indy 500.
“It’s a shame we will miss that this year, but I look forward to getting back there in 2021 and getting it started again.”