iRacer Wyatt Gooden capped another strong F2000 Championship Series weekend with podium finishes in both races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, including his second victory of the 2012 season in Sunday’s weekend-ending event.
After finishing third in a come-from-behind charge in Saturday’s opening race, Gooden took the win in Sunday’s 18-lap event around the 2.5-mile Mid-Ohio circuit with a decisive pass of championship points leader Robert La Rocca on a Lap 7 restart, leading the rest of the way to take the checkers in his Perfect Pedal/Quantum Racing Services Van Diemen in front of a 33-car field, one of largest of the 2012 season.
“It’s great to score another win at my home track,” said the 23-year-old Gooden, a successful go-karter who earned a ride in the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing VW Jetta TDi Cup by winning the iRacing.com VW Jetta TDi Series before switching to Formula Fords. “The car was perfect today. We’ve been improving all season and it‘s nice to see our hard work paying off. Thanks to my sponsors Perfect Pedal, KLN Logistics and S.A. Comunale for making this win possible!”
Starting from the outside front row, Gooden slotted into second behind La Rocca on the opening lap. Just behind, third-starting John LaRue was tipped into a wild flip after light contact with Niki Coello in Turn Seven. The crash resulted in a full-course caution while track workers freed the uninjured LaRue from his overturned car.
On the restart, Gooden was able to close on La Rocca as the leader momentarily lost the back of his car in Turn One. On the run to the Turn Three “Keyhole” corner, La Rocca moved to the right to block the inside, so Gooden went left and pulled alongside as La Rocca moved back to the left, pushing Gooden to the far outside edge of the circuit.
“The car was perfect today. We’ve been improving all season and it‘s nice to see our hard work paying off.” — Wyatt Gooden
Still, Gooden completed the pass and drove in extremely deep on the brakes, hoping he had enough room behind him as he went through the turn with the tail of the black and yellow Quantum Van Diemen hanging out. Meanwhile, La Rocca’s move to the left opened up the inside and third-running Tim Paul took the opportunity to dive to the inside. The pair made contact, with both La Rocca and Paul spinning off course, bringing out the caution flag once more.
After the clean-up it was smooth sailing to the finish as Gooden held off Coello on the restart, then pulled out a cushion as he set the fastest laps of the race to win for the first time since Lime Rock Park in May, and solidify his hold on second place in the drivers’ championship.
“It feels good to take our second win of the year,” said Gooden, who swept the two F1600 Championship Series races at Mid-Ohio in 2011 for his first professional open-wheel race victories. “This track has been good to me; it was a clean pass on Robert.”
Gooden also made it on the podium with a third-place finish in Saturday’s opening race after successfully avoiding a multi-car mêlée when the second place car spun in front of the whole field in the Turn 16 “Carousel.”
Gooden, who started fifth on Saturday’s race after getting caught on pit lane as qualifying ended, had to drive off track to avoid the incident, and resumed in ninth when the full-course caution flags followed. He remained unfazed and brilliantly drove to the front, including two double passes on the outside of Turn Seven, much to the delight of the hometown crowd.
“Wyatt showcased his talent and consistency this weekend and we certainly had a lot of speed on Sunday,” said Quantum principal Wendell Miller. “He has enormous potential and we’re looking forward to a strong finish to the season. We’d also like to thank Kechi Energy and Primus Racing Parts for their continued support.”
The F2000 Championship Series season continues at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, August 24-26, with rounds 11 and 12 of the 14-race season.