Brazilian extends streak of podium finishes to three straight weekends INDIANAPOLIS, IND.
– Race-winning USF2000 team Afterburner Autosport made its debut at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend (May 8-10), running in the fifth and sixth rounds of the Cooper Tire USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The team’s drivers were forced to deal with challenging conditions throughout the weekend, including a full wet qualifying session and an opening race that was run on a rapidly drying track. The second race of the doubleheader enjoyed perfect conditions, however, which provided Afterburner with its first podium finish at the world’s most famous racecourse. Brazilians Victor Franzoni and Gustavo Myasava steered the team’s cars at Indy. Franzoni scored his third podium finish of the year, earning a strong third place result in race two, while Myasava continued to gain experience, coming out on top of a spirited dice for 14th in the second event at IMS.
For Franzoni, the third place finish on Saturday in the second race of the doubleheader was an extremely important run, capping off a strong weekend. After qualifying a stout fourth position for the opening 18-lap event of the weekend, the late arrival of weather changed everything. The event was declared a ‘wet race’ by officials, which meant that all of the drivers were required to start on the treaded Cooper rain tires. The track began to dry rapidly through the race, and a couple drivers who had changed to slick tires during the opening lap caution were coming to the front quickly. Running fourth, Franzoni knew that he was a sitting duck to those who were charging through the field, so he headed to pit lane for dry tires. It was a calculated decision that sacrificed what might have been a top-10, but it also gave him the chance to lay down a good lap to secure a better starting position for Race #2. This strategy worked perfectly, as while racing to a 15th place finish, Franzoni turned the fourth fastest lap of the race to put himself on the outside of the second row for Race #2. Myasava started ninth in the first race, but an early spin and contact left him without a front wing and shock cover. After a pit stop to replace the nose, he returned to the track and finished 19th.
Starting on the outside of row two for the backend of the doubleheader, Franzoni got a great start and would lead early, eventually slipping back to third by the time the checkered flag had flown. The changing weather definitely through a wrench into the pre-weekend strategy, but the Afterburner crew made the best of the situation and once again gave their young 18-year-old driver a car that he could drive to the podium. Franzoni now sits fourth in the championship points and is the top rookie. Myasava spent the weekend coming to grips with the balance of his car, and the team played with aero settings and mechanical grip. In the second race, he worked his way forward and emerged as the winner of a hard-fought battle for 14th with three other racers. It was yet another solid step forward for the young Brazilian.
“We were having some problems with the rear brakes all weekend, but my team worked very hard to fix it, and in the end, it was a positive result,” offered Franzoni. “In the first race, I went to P1 on the start and was quick in the wet, but when it started to dry, I was losing positions and I knew I was going to lose many of them. So, I stopped to change to dry tires so that I could set a fast time for the race two, which we did. I started in P4 and I went to P1 on the first corner once again. I led for most of the race, but we finished in P3. I'm very happy to take a podium finish in Indianapolis, as it’s a great track with a lot of history.”
Next up for the Afterburner Autosport squad will be a return trip to Indianapolis where the team and its USF2000 drivers will take part in round seven of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. The annual ‘Night Before The 500’ event will put the drivers on the 5/8-mile banked oval, where they will get their first opportunity to experience an oval race at part of the Mazda Road to Indy.
About Afterburner Autosport:
Afterburner Autosport was formed in 2010 with the sole purpose of leading the way in Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda competition. Under the guidance of F2000 racer and engineer Tim Walsh and two-time SCCA Formula Continental National Champion Brian Tomasi and fellow, the team has over 20 years of experience in open-wheel competition. The Minnesota-based squad, having captured two podium finishes in its inaugural pro racing season in 2011, has continually developed and grown since it joined the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. In 2013, Afterburner Autosport scored its inaugural series wins with rookie Alex Baron. The highly regarded team returns to the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program in 2014 with a talented multi-car effort.