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Race report

Franzoni wins race, Martin takes the title

Victor Franzoni scored his second dominant win in as many days, but by finishing runner-up today at Laguna Seca, Anthony Martin clinched the USF2000 championship.  

Anthony Martin
Victor Franzoni
Anthony Martin
Luke Gabin
Parker Thompson
Victor Franzoni
Anthony Martin
Jordan Lloyd

At the drop of the green flag, the polesitting ArmsUp Motorsports car of Franzoni made a perfect getaway again, and Martin dropped to third as Cape Motorsports' with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Parker Thompson edged past on the inside of Turn 2. But while Martin didn’t need to take any chances – just keep title rival teammate Thompson in sight – he gathered momentum through the Corkscrew on the opening lap and dived down the inside of Thompson at Rainey Corner, a very fast downhill left-hander, to grab second.

This shuffling allowed Franzoni to cross the start-finish line 2.2sec to the good after just one lap, but Martin had landed the psychological blow in the title fight. It would prove to be the knockout punch.

It also meant that Thompson was directly in the firing line of the hard chargers with nothing to lose – Jordan Lloyd of Pabst Racing, JAY Motorsports’ Luke Gabin and their own Cape Motorsports’ teammate, Nikita Lastochkin. Yet Thompson to his great credit didn’t lose heart nor show any signs of being ruffled. Instead he stuck doggedly in Martin’s wheeltracks, no doubt hoping the Aussie would suffer the loss of rear grip that afflicted his car yesterday.

Up front, Franzoni had built a seven-second lead by Lap 10, but the Cape pair’s pace was still enough to edge them away from Lloyd and by Lap 13 they were 2sec clear, while Lloyd himself was 1.3sec ahead of Gabin. Lastochkin was having a lonely race in sixth some 3sec behind Gabin but 3sec ahead of the most entertaining battle on track.

That was between Yufeng Luo (Pabst) and Team Pelfrey’s hard-charging Robert Megennis. Heading into this weekend, the American had passed 50 cars this season, and today he excelled himself again on the opening lap, moving from 11th up to eighth. He made that seventh on Lap 18, and started trying to close down the six-second gap to Lastochkin. Instead, however, he would actually lose the spot to Luo on the final lap, while Lucas Kohl of John Cummiskey Racing and Dakota Dickerson of Afterburner Autosport would complete the Top 10.

Meanwhile, nearer the sharp end of the field, the gap between Martin and Thompson fluctuated but was rarely more than a second. Equally, however, it appeared Martin had all the answers before Thompson even asked the questions, and starting the last lap, they were 2sec apart.

And so Martin rolled serenely to the checkers, 10sec adrift of the dominant Franzoni but caring little. The main job was done, and done well.

 

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