Monday, August 20, 2012

Watching The Rungs

Welcome back. I lost a shoe in Montreal over the weekend, so if anyone finds it, please let me know.

IndyCar is thankfully back in action this upcoming weekend at Sonoma, but before we go there, I wanted to talk a bit about the action from USF2000 up at Road America this past weekend. Now, pretty much up to this point, no one has been able to catch the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing crew. Matthew Brabham and Spencer Pigot have been simply head and shoulders above most of the competition, and had won all but a single race heading into the Road America weekend.

That single race that didn't fall to the Cape duo had gone to Belardi Auto Racing's Scott Anderson. Now, Anderson is a Skip Barber graduate--he landed in USF2000 this season thanks to winning last year's Skip Barber National Championship, and the scholarship that it came with. So he's definitely a product of the IndyCar ladder system. There's the idea that someone without a lot of money can still start at or near the bottom, and through hard work and on-track success work their way up. Frankly, it's been an elusive dream for a lot of racing series, regardless of size or type.

Yet Anderson still has hope for the USF2000 championship, and the scholarship it entails for driver to advance to the Star Mazda Championship Series. Over the course of this past weekend's three USF2000 races, Anderson won the third race, finished on the podium in the other two, won a pole, and set a new track record while he was at it. With four races remaining, He's 50 points behind points leader Brabham, and only 36 behind P2 Pigot. That's a big gap, but its doable, especially if the Cape guys come to any more grief. It's worth noting Matt Brabham is now in the overall points lead, and he's looked consistently sharp this year. Make no mistake: if Anderson wins the title, it'll be against the odds.

Anderson, in a lot of ways, is as good a story as they come. Of course, so are Matthew Brabham, with his family's rich racing history, and Spencer Pigot's working his way up through the open wheel ladder as well. Still, it wouldn't hurt one bit to remind everyone that Skip Barber is a valid road to IndyCar. Of course, one could surmise that simply by looking at the list of Skip Barber alumni, but every bit helps.

Maybe Scott Anderson makes a charge and wins this thing. Maybe he doesn't. The fact that he's where  he is, and at least in contention, is a good sign for the Mazda Road to Indy, and the hope of a healthy ladder that starts at the bottom and works its way up. USF2000 should have a fine finish to their year, and no matter who wins, you have to feel pretty good about the level of drivers we're starting to see make their way up the ladder.

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