USF2000 – Hindman Rebounds at St. Petersburg
Silverstone, England, March 27 – One of the things said to separate “elite” football quarterbacks from the rest is poor short-term memory; the ability to quickly put a bad play or mistake out of their mind and immediately return to playing at a high level. For a race car driver, the ability to quickly put a bad result behind you and drive at a high level is just as important. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Trent Hindman demonstrated that elite capability this past weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; bouncing back quickly from a pair of disappointing results the week prior at Sebring to score his first Top 5 finishes in USF2000 competition and showing the field that despite the early setbacks, you can’t keep “The Hitman” down for long.
While his Cape Motorsports teammates Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham topped the time charts in both Practice sessions, the Wayside, N.J. driver spent both sessions feeling out his car and learning the temporary street circuit. When qualifying rolled around, traffic and red flags limited opportunities for an open track, and when the checkered flag fell Hindman found himself ninth with a 1:14.155 lap, just under a second behind his teammates up on the front row.
With Sebring at least in the back of his mind Hindman drove a conservative race; staying out of trouble and taking advantage of others’ misfortunes to move up. Hindman inherited eighth place when Timmy Megenbier dropped out with an electrical issue, and seventh place when Scott Hargrove got loose and tagged the wall in Turn 10. After the Hargrove incident was cleaned up, racing continued and Hindman settled into seventh place. Laps later, Neil Alberico and Matthew DiLeo tangled, allowing Hindman to advance two more positions. At the finish, he held off the Andretti Autosport duo of Shelby Blackstock and Thomas McGregor for his first Top 5 finish of the season.
“After Sebring, just finishing the race was huge. Passing opportunities were few and far between so to gain four positions from where I started in a field this competitive is good. That I gained those positions through attrition adds a touch of irony to the day.”
Sunday morning broke damp, and while the morning warm up by the IZOD IndyCar Series did contribute to a dry racing line, conditions were still slick when the field took the green flag at 9:15. From seventh on the grid, Hindman passed Roman Lagudi and spent the early portion of the race fending off Shelby Blackstock for seventh as Neil Alberico worked his way through the field toward the front.
When Alberico ran out of room while making an attempt to pass Luigi Biangardi, collecting Scott Hargrove in the process, Hindman found himself on the gearbox of the lead pack of Pigot, Brabham and Matthew DiLeo as the field circulated under the full course caution. Although DiLeo and Hindman could both smell blood in the water after Brabham’s car lost its front wing late, neither we able to capitalize and while Pigot and Brabham collected their second 1-2 finish of the weekend, Hindman was content to take his second Top 5 of the weekend, a season best fourth.
“The track was just damp enough that you couldn’t go even slightly off the racing line without risking losing grip. Passing was tough so it was impressive to see Neil come through the field the way he did. I’m also glad that I kept my nose clean for both races and that I was able to bring the car home in one piece for Dominic and Nick.”
With the fifth on Saturday and the fourth on Sunday, Hindman vaulted from 22nd to 9thin Championship Class points. There was little time to celebrate as Hindman quickly made his way to the airport in Tampa to catch a flight to Newark in order to make an overnight flight to London Heathrow for a Formula Renault BARC open test and media day at Silverstone.
With the exception of a couple open tests, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is on an extended Spring Break until The Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on May 26, the lone oval race of the season. Between now and then, Trent Hindman will head back to the United Kingdom to compete in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship with Cliff Dempsey Racing, with triple-header events April 7-8 at Snetterton and May 19-20 at Rockingham Motor Speedway. Live timing and scoring information will be forthcoming.