CAMERON SHIELDS SCORES FIRST USF2000 WIN IN DOMINANT FASHION
In what was certainly a breakout event, 17-year-old Australian Cameron Shields delivered Newman Wachs Racing its first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory this past weekend at the Carb Night Classic Freedom 75.
Shields took to the high-banked 5/8th mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval, and dominated the action in commanding fashion, leading every lap of the race. Shields’ NWR teammate Nolan Siegel overcame an issue in qualifying to score his first top-10 of the season. =
This was the NWR duo’s second time on the track, as a week prior they took part in an official series test. Both drivers showed great speed in the test and that pace carried over to the race weekend. In both practice sessions, they were two of the quickest on track and followed up with a win and a top-10 finish in the 75-lap race.
“I couldn’t be happier for the team and Cameron on our first win in this series,” offered Brian Halahan, NWR Team Manager.
“We have been working our butts off for two and a half years and finally all the hard work is starting to pay off. I’m also really happy about Nolan‘s results. I think he would’ve been better off had he not had an issue in qualifying. I’m sure he would’ve qualified in the top-seven without that happening.”
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series took to the track on Thursday afternoon for the first official practice followed by the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 qualifying after overnight rain soaked the track and paddock area.
While both drivers had experience at the facility from the series test, but the track conditions were a bit different due to the rain. That didn’t seem to faze our drivers as both flirted with the fastest laps during practice. When two-lap qualifying came, Shields laid down the fastest speed for a majority of the session, getting topped by one of the final qualifiers to miss out on the pole by just 0.0852 seconds.
Unfortunately, after being so fast every session, Nolan had a mechanical issue that hindered his pace and dropped him to a 16th place starting position. It was a tough blow for Nolan and the team, as this was definitely not a representation of the speed he had, but the problem was quickly remedied before the final practice session on Friday afternoon.
Friday’s action began with the series’ final practice session, just a little over two hours before the Freedom 75. More rain showers had passed through overnight, but our drivers were used to the changing conditions and proved to be two of the fastest on the track.
After a couple hours of downtime, it was time to take to the speedway for a 75-lap shootout. As soon as the green flag flew, Shields took the lead and never looked back. Despite having never raced on an oval, he was consistently able to pull a significant lead, at one point almost five seconds, and if it weren’t for lapped traffic and two full-course cautions at laps 44 and 61, Cameron would have felt no pressure at all.
He finished the race with 1.4-second gap, having led every lap, gaining much needed championship points. Siegel had his work cut out for him, but knew he had the pace to move forward on a track that tends to be difficult to pass on. From the green flag, the young driver began picking off drivers one-by-one, capitalizing on the two caution periods to attack on the restarts. After the 75 laps were up, Nolan has moved himself into the 10th position for his first top-10 of the season.
Leaving Indianapolis, Shields moved up the order to sixth in the point standings, just two points out of third. Siegel’s consistency in his development and his clean finishing record has placed him 15th in the standings.
Newman Wachs Racing will now head to the legendary four-mile, 14-turn Road America road course, located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Rounds 6 and 7 will take place on June 21 – 23.
USF2000 – ROUND 5 – COOPER TIRES FREEDOM 75 – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
CAMERON SHIELDS – #73
Qualifying 1: 2nd – 44.878 (two-lap total time / 110.057 mph)
Race: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st
Driver Quote: “What an awesome result for Newman Wachs Racing. Every single person in our team put in 110% in the lead-up to this event and it really paid off – at no time did anyone put a foot wrong.”
“It is an honor to be the first driver to win for NWR in the USF2000 Series and it is a privilege to drive for Eddie Wachs on his team. I have so many people to thank because it has been a long road to get to where we are now; however, there is still a very long way to go this year so our full focus will be on Road America and making sure we can capitalize on our strengths to continue closing the championship points gap.”