Houston, TX - Peter Portante officially wrapped up his rookie season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda this past weekend. The Marlin CNG Services Grand Prix of Houston took place at the beautiful Reliant Park in Houston. Coming fresh off his SCCA National win, the Plainville, Conn., native was full of momentum for the finale. Even the four-hour delay for track repairs and to install a temporary chicane before getting practice started wouldn't damper Portante's mood. He was able to post a quick lap time of 1:17.792 in practice with the #41 Belardi Auto Racing (MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Intercity Lines, Inc./California Scents/Beurre & Sel/B&R Electrical Contractors/Randy's Wooster Street Pizza/Northern Construction/Velez Computer Systems/Pagliacci's) entry.
Qualifying would be a little less exciting for Portante when he had an incident with the wall leaving him to post a quick time of 1:16.882 to claim the starting spot of tenth. Race 1 would not be any kinder. The #41 Belardi Auto Racing car was running great and he was picking up positions, and even pulled off an incredible three-wide move to overtake competitors for the ninth position. But, another incident with a competitor sliced his rear tire on Lap Three sending him slowly to the back of the field. He did say, after getting out of the car, "I think I was the fastest person with three tires."
It was a very wet track for Race 2 with heavy rains early in the morning. Portante started sixth and quickly made his way up to the fourth position until a small spin in Turn 2 caused him to finish ninth.
Peter Portante finished tenth in the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda point standings with two podiums under his belt. This is no small accomplishment for a young oval track driver making his debut in the professional open-wheel world. Portante plans to take everything he has learned this year into the off-season so he can come back a true contender for the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. Quotes:
Portante on Qualifying:
"It was a little up and down qualifying session. In the beginning of the session we were third or fourth and just got caught in traffic and never really got our momentum back. Plus we got pushed in the wall a little bit too so that didn't help. I tried to go out and make it up on the last couple laps and just couldn't do it. It's frustrating to be in eleventh, kind of been our weak point all year, but I'm confident we can make it up in the race." Portante on Race 1:
"Our qualifying result really haunted us in this race, I think we started tenth, but made up quite a few positions and we were running sixth and seventh with a good car. On lap three we had a tire cut by someone who we've had an incident with now three race weekends in a row so we ran the entire race with a flat rear tire. It was pretty sketchy in a lot of comers with the high speed left handers. Unfortunately we didn't set the best lap but we did set a decent lap, which is good, hopefully we don't have to start too far back. But eventually, under caution, the tire just let go and we couldn't do anything else." Portante on Race 2:
"It was a little bit of an eventful race for sure. We started ninth and got up to fourth on a restart. I came a little too hot into two, locked up the brakes and had a little three-sixty moment. It dropped us back a couple spots and a couple corners later we picked our way back up to sixth. It's good, also a little disappointing, but we did what we had to do. We had a lot of so hopefully we can take as much as we can from this, learn, regroup and do better next time." Portante on the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Season:
"My year in USF2000 has been nothing other than a roller coaster, but I am a far better driver than when I began. I'm looking forward to ending the season on a strong note and carrying momentum into racing next year"
For More Information on Peter Portante:
On the Web: http://www.peterportante.com
Follow him on Twitter: @portante24
Like him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Portante-Racing