Portland Perfection Propels McElrea to Championship Lead
 September 3, 2019| 
  • Team News
McElrea PDX 2019 Recap

PORTLAND, Ore. - Perfection is the only way to describe Hunter McElrea’s weekend at Portland International Raceway for Rounds 12 & 13 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The 19-year-old, who is the reigning Australian Formula Ford Champion & Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout Winner, led every practice session, scored both Pole Positions & took two dominant race victories.

In Race 1, McElrea, who had finished on the podium in all but two of the first 11 races, maintained his advantage over second-place qualifier Braden Eves at the tight Festival Curves chicane on the opening lap. The pair remained tied together for the opening eight laps and soon began to edge away from Christian Rasmussen in third. But then McElrea really hit his stride, turning a string of consistently fast laps to stretch his lead with every turn around the 1.964-mile road course. His eventual winning margin was 4.8713 seconds, with the fastest lap of the race by a whopping two-tenths of a second to the next closest car.

Race 2 saw McElrea again make full use of his fourth straight pole position, by moving immediately into the lead. Impressively, all 18 cars made it through the tight Festival Curves complex of corners relatively cleanly. But again, it was the Soul Red Mazda Scholarship/Pabst Racing No. 22 USF2000 car that streaked away from the field to claim a comfortable victory with a margin of 5.5127 seconds.

The California-born Australian-raised New Zealander’s third race win in succession vaulted him from a nine-point deficit into a six-point advantage over Eves in the battle for this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. Also at stake is a scholarship valued at over $300,000 to move up one step on the Road to Indy to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2020.

“This was an amazing weekend. To have a weekend like this – quick in all of the sessions, two poles and two wins – is so hard to come by. And to have the races completely dominant like that, it’s the best case scenario. I’m so happy with where we are now to have the points lead. The competition, the teams and the drivers, are so talented. To have the lead going into the final round doesn’t change anything: I’m going into Laguna Seca with the same mindset I’ve had all along, especially since Mid-Ohio. I’ll focus on my own thing and hopefully the rest keeps taking care of itself. But the Pabst team gave me such a great car this weekend, and I owe them so much.”

Hunter now switches his focus to the final two races of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calif., on the weekend of September 21/22.

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