To say the last three months have been busy ones for Red Deer’s Parker Thompson would be a huge understatement. Busy and successful.
The 18 year old Notre Dame student and race car driver has been burning the rubber on tracks in Indiana, Wisconsin and Toronto for Cape Motorsports with positive results on the USF2000 circuit.
He garnered a first and second place finish at the Lucas Oil Raceway Park which is just a quick drive from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the road course at the famous brickyard.
[quote_box_center]“So first and second place finishes I thought was pretty decent and we had a pretty good points lead at that stage,” he said about the overall standings race.[/quote_box_center]
He then hit the Road America track in Wisconsin which he feels is one of the premiere racing tracks south of the border. The team left there with a fifth and third place finish even though he only had eight laps of practice on the track which is four miles long. Some crashes by other drivers during those sessions also took away from time on the track.
The impact on the drivers not having a greater number of practice laps is not too bad as they all know where the track is going and how to go fast around it, he said.
[quote_center]“What is does effect is how you attack the car setup. With eight laps on the track it’s really difficult to feel what’s needed of the car in order to go fast in qualifying. We never really had time to test anything.”[/quote_center]
“We got two 30 minute practice sessions so even if we were green flagged those entire practice sessions you’re only looking at getting about probably nine laps in total because the track’s so long,” he said. “It was a battle of a race, third and fifth place finishes which was mentally a tough race but good to come away with points and that put us tied for the championship lead.”
Then it was off to Toronto for the Indy Grand Prix, the only race for the USF2000 on Canadian soil.
It was a race he termed the most satisfying win of his career to this point. Previous wins saw him start at the pole position with the car performing well so he basically drove away from the pack to win. In Toronto, the track had changed when the USF2000 group got on for their race because the Indy racers had been on it previously for their practice laps.
[quote_center]“They laid a whole bunch of rubber down and it really affected the car,” he said.[/quote_center]
So while he did well in practice runs the qualifying was a different story due to the dirty track. He started third on the grid in the first race and placed third. Race two saw him make a move on one turn to get him into the lead and he never looked back. Mark down another win for Thompson who has never been out of first place in the standings since early in the season.
He’s still learning but at the same time he’s showing the rest of the drivers he’s got what it takes to win on this circuit and he belongs in the lead. It’s a great mix of driver, engineer and mechanic on a team which has won this championship before.
There are two more races left in the season, Ohio and California. Thompson is very aware as to how quickly the points lead could slip away.
[quote_center]“I’m just pretty focused on making sure I continue to perform at a high level and make sure I don’t let go of the opportunity I’ve been granted here.”[/quote_center]
As if he needs any more motivation he is getting some from the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship offered up to the winner of each racing series. The money goes to paying for the next year of racing and for Thompson it could mean about $380K.
That’s some heavy motivation.
You can follow the racing at usf2000.com.