NEWMAN WACHS RACING NOTCHES FIRST TOP-FIVE OF 2019 USF2000 CAMPAIGN
After a two-month hiatus, Newman Wachs Racing was back in action on the May 9-11 weekend at the ‘Racing Capital of the World’, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The team was set up in the IMS paddock to run on the facility’s road course in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and their drivers – Australian Cameron Shields and American Nolan Siegel – got their first taste of the 14-turn, 2.439-mile purpose built layout on Thursday with two unofficial test sessions followed by one official practice.
Friday included qualifying for both races as well as the opening event of the doubleheader, while the second race was held on Saturday morning. Shields led the way for the team with his best result of the season of fifth in Race 1 on Friday, and was then unfortunately taken out while running in the top-five on Saturday.
The resultant damage from the contact sent him to pit lane early. Siegel brought an ideal approach to IMS as he was focused on gaining experience, and he improved his pace all weekend to score a pair of top-15 finishes.
“We had some good times and some bad times this weekend,” offered Brian Halahan, NWR Team Manager.
“We started off trying to dial in the setups of our cars and by qualifying we had it pretty good. Both drivers qualified well, and both pushed forward, and I was pleased with Cameron’s a fifth-place finish. We need more of that.”
“Cameron has the potential. It’s just too bad he was wrecked in the second race. Nolan did exactly what he needs to do, and like St. Pete, he kept his nose clean and keeps getting good results. He’s only 14 and he drives smart, which is great. I’m really looking forward to seeing them on the oval next week.”
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series took to the track on Thursday morning with two wet tests sessions followed by the damp official practice to let the rookie drivers get a feel for the massive and challenging race course.
Both NWR drivers were showing great pace but, due to the rain, it was a bit challenging to truly prepare for Friday’s two qualifying sessions and the opening races of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader.
Friday started bright and early with Race 1 qualifying. Both drivers’ lap times improved, but so did the rest of the field due to the track finally drying out. Siegel led the NWR squad in this qualifying session, posting the 12th fastest time while Shields was right behind him in 13th.
Race 2 qualifying was run just a couple of hours later, and Shields improved his starting position significantly as he jumped into the top-10 to start eighth for Race 2. Nolan went quicker again, and would end up 17th on the time sheets to start on the inside of row nine.
The opening race of the weekend was run at the end of the day on Friday and, as usual, turn one at the green would prove to be a bit hectic. The chaos would provide Shields with the chance to capitalize and move himself up into the fifth position, where he would finish the day. Unfortunately, Siegel was caught up in the traffic but he was thankfully able to continue, having emerged without damage and after taking the turn one runoff. Nolan fought his way back up to a 15th finish.
Saturday’s Race 2 finally saw a clean start where both of the NWR drivers were able to make it through cleanly, gaining some much-needed positions. Shields had an impressive start, working his way up to the seventh position and after just a couple of laps, he was racing in the fifth spot. However, during the final laps of the race, Manual Suliaman ran into the back of Cameron in turn one, spinning him around and ending his chances of another strong finish. Shields’ #37 Tatuus USF17 was damaged and he was forced to return, finishing 16th in the final classification. Nolan was again in the middle of a great battle for position throughout the race and he finished 14th.
Leaving Indianapolis, Shields moved up the order to 13th in the point standings, just three points out of 10th. Siegel’s consistency in his development and his clean finishing record has placed him 16th in the standings.
Newman Wachs Racing will now head to their only oval event of the year at Lucas Oil Raceway for the Carb Night Classic on May 24. Shields and Siegel will get their first taste of racing wheel-to-wheel on an 0.689-mile oval, although pre-event testing on Monday went extremely well.
USF2000 – ROUNDS 3/4 – MARCH 9-11, 2019
GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
CAMERON SHIELDS – #73
Qualifying 1: 13th – 1:25.460
Qualifying 2: 8th – 1:25.113
Race 1: Start – 13th / Finish – 5th
Race 2: Start – 8th / Finish – 16th
Driver Quote: “This weekend produced some very mixed results. To come from 13th and finish in fifth position in the first race gained valuable points for the championship. In the final race, I started eighth and drove up to fifth before I was contacted from behind into the first turn. We can put this weekend behind us now and have full focus on my first oval race in two weeks! Thank you to the Newman Wachs Racing team for all their hard work all weekend long.”