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Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Mazda Road to Indy $200k Shootout Changes Venue for 2017

This year’s Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout will take place at a new venue, with the 20 champions from across the glove coming together at the Bondurant Racing School near Phoenix, Ariz. on December 9 and 10.

The shootout will use the Bondurant’s main track, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, which is a 1.6-mile road course with 15 turns

“We chose Bondurant this year for a number of reasons,” said Kyle Kimball, Operations Manager for Mazda Motorsports. “Bondurant is an official partner of IMSA, a sanctioning body that Mazda is also very involved with. We like to do business with those who support auto racing, and Bondurant fits the bill, especially with their Formula Mazda cars.”

The MRTI ladder was developed as a way to progress drivers through the open-wheel ranks, eventually leading to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Drivers begin in Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda, followed by Pro Mazda, Indy Lights and then IndyCar. Notably, the champion at each level receives a scholarship to put towards a ride at the next level.

The shootout was developed last year by Mazda to include champions from a select group of junior level open-wheel and karting series around the globe. There was an option for 20 entry tickets to be given out by series to their Champions, with the only other requirement being each competitor must be between the age 14 and 25 as of September 30. The winner of the shootout earns a $200,000 prize from Mazda to allow them to compete in USF2000 in 2018.

“The Mazda $200,000 Shootout represents exactly what the Mazda Road to Indy is all about, giving drivers an opportunity to compete and advance all the way up the ladder to IndyCar,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Bringing champions from all over the world together in a shootout format will produce a driver who is sure to be a contender in 2018 and, with the training provided in our program, that driver will have a much better shot at a career at the pinnacle of the sport down the road. I love what Mazda, Cooper Tires and our other partners are doing to provide this opportunity and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.”

Last year, Oliver Askew came away with the scholarship, and was able to turn it into a series championship this past season driving for Cape Motorsports.

“Oliver Askew is proof of what the Shootout can lead to for a young driver,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “With very little experience in race cars, Oliver won the inaugural $200,000 scholarship and turned it into a USF2000 championship in 2017. He is the embodiment of what the Mazda driver development scholarships are all about: giving young drivers the opportunity to move up the racing ladder all the way to the Verizon IndyCar series. We can’t wait to see who the next Shootout winner will be.”

The following series’ champions will each be issued an entry ticket for the shootout, as long as they fit the age requirement.

  • BRSCC Britcover/Avon Tires FF1600 Championship (England)
  • Pacific F2000 Championship (USA)
  • Formula Panam (Mexico)
  • Beatson’s Scottish FF1600 Championship (Scotland)
  • New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship (New Zealand)
  • MMSC MRF F1600 Indian Championship (India)
  • Formula Tour 1600 (Canada)
  • Formula Ford Super Series (England)
  • Australian Formula Ford Championship (Australia)
  • Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear (USA)
  • F1600 Formula F Championship Series (USA)
  • Team USA Scholarship (USA)
  • Formula Ford Festival (England)
  • Walter Hayes Trophy (England)
  • Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship (Ireland)
  • SCCA National Championship Runoffs (USA)
  • Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)

Four of the champions have already been crowned, with the following competitors already recieving their invites – Liam Lawson, 14, of Pukekohe, New Zealand representing the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship; Niall Murray, 22, of Dublin, Ireland, representing the Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship; Olin Galli, 21, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, representing Selectiva de kart Petrobras; and Ross Martin, 16, of Kilmaronock, Scotland, representing the Scottish Motor Racing Club Formula Ford 1600 Championship.

A full schedule and program of events will be announced in the near future.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

VeeKay Wins the Battle as Askew Secures USF2000 Title

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Rinus VeeKay from Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, came from behind this afternoon at the famed Watkins Glen International road course to secure an emphatic third victory of the season for Pabst Racing in the 14th and final round of the year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. But the 16-year-old’s joy was tempered because he knew that second place was more than enough for fellow rookie Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports), 20, from Jupiter, Fla., to secure the championship and a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $400,000 to ensure graduation to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, in 2018.
 
VeeKay’s teammate, Calvin Ming, from Guyana, vaulted from sixth on the grid to finish on the podium for the sixth time during another strong rookie campaign.
 
The pressure was palpable this morning during qualifying, with every championship point crucial for the two title contenders. After being comfortably fastest in the opening practice session on Friday, VeeKay, who trailed by 13 points,  had opted to run a minimum of laps in the second session to ensure he would have two virtually brand-new sets of Cooper tires – one for qualifying and another for the race. 
But then Askew stepped up in qualifying, posting a new lap record even faster than the old Pro Mazda mark to snatch his eighth pole of the season. VeeKay tried his best but came up just over a tenth of a second shy to ensure the two rivals would start side by side on the front row of the grid.
 
Askew took full advantage by leading from the start, only for VeeKay to challenge him on the outside line into Turn One. Askew wisely didn’t force the issue and it was VeeKay who emerged in the lead. Indeed, the young Dutch sensation was never seriously threatened as he romped clear, turning a string of consistently fast laps to take the victory by a commanding 9.6053 seconds.
 
Askew was more than content to run in second, secure in the knowledge that after already earning one championship point in qualifying, all he required was a fourth-place finish to achieve his goal. He did so by seven points, 351-344.
 
Ming remained close behind in third but was never quite close enough to challenge.
 
Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., the youngest driver in the field at age 15, finished fourth for Team Pelfrey, while David Malukas (BN Racing), from Chicago Ridge, Ill., charged from 14th on the grid to fifth. He also recorded the second fastest lap of the race.
 
DE Force teammates Andres Gutierrez, from Monterrey, Mexico, and Kory Enders, from Warwick, N.Y., couldn’t quite match their form from qualifying, which saw them share the second row of the grid, but still finished well in sixth and seventh, followed by Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., who drove well to overcome a crash during first practice, Brazilian Lucas Kohl (Pabst Racing) and Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), from New York, N.Y., who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after rising from 20th on the grid to 10th.
 
Augie Pabst claimed the PFC Award as the winning team owner, while South African Callan O’Keeffe finished 12th to secure the Staubli Award for Team BENIK.
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “I’m happy but I could be happier. I hadn’t really planned to pass Oliver at the start but I saw him brake for the inside and I went for the outside and all of the sudden I passed him. We had a good race down the back straight but I didn’t want to give the position back. I think he backed off to be sure of the position for the championship, but I put my head down and got away from the field. I will take some time in the off-season and figure out what I want to do next year. I definitely want to stay in the Mazda Road to Indy. I don’t know where on the ladder but I think we will move up. It was a great season, with 12 podiums out of 14 races with three wins, so I cannot thank the Pabst team enough for giving me a great car and getting better every weekend.”
 
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “I’ve dreamed about this moment for so long. It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders, to be champion. My learning curve has been really steep this year but I’ve had so many great people around me who have helped me progress. I learned something every day at the racetrack. The priority was to finish on the podium in case Rinus won and got maximum points, and we did that. I just did the best I could to keep Calvin behind me. I can’t thank the Cape team enough. We started on the wrong foot this weekend but once again when it counted we got pole and I had a great car. I’m so happy to be able to continue my relationship with Mazda and Cooper Tires, they’ve helped me so much. Thanks also to Team USA Scholarship for giving me the opportunity, and Rising Star Racing. This is not going to sink in for a while – I can’t wait for next year!”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com and at RoadToIndy.Info.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Askew Holds Advantage Over Veekay Heading into Finale

After Oliver Askew won five straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races in the first half of the season, a lot of people locked him as the series title holder. However, the trophy engraving may have begun a little too soon.

Entering the season finale on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, Askew only holds a 13-point advantage over Rinus Veekay. 

Since winning the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout to get the scholarship to run this season, Askew has been fast and nearly unstoppable. His statistics will ultimately go down as some of the best in series history, with seven victories and 11 podium finishes in 13 races. 

“I have been working harder than I ever have to secure this championship,” Askew said. “I think the same can be said about Cape Motorsports and everyone around me that has helped get to this point. We all want this, and if we keep doing what we have been every race so far this season, I don’t see a reason why it can’t happen. The mindset that I’ve developed throughout this year will be the same in the final race – I will be focusing on the elements within my control and will maximize the opportunity given to me.”

Though he’s been fast, he slipped up twice this season. He finished 17th at Road America following a steering rack issue, and then was caught up in a crash in Toronto en route to placing 12th. 

Both times, Rinus Veekay has been right there to capitalize, consistently scoring points over the year with no finishes outside of the top-six, including 11 podiums. Although those results are strong, they haven’t proven enough when compared to Askew’s victories. 

When the green flag drops on Saturday, though, don’t expect Veekay to be thinking about that.

“You start the race and just forget about everything else. Otherwise, you can go crazy,” Veekay said. “Don’t worry about plans, just react to what’s happening. But to get 11 podiums in 13 races so far is a great year. It was a difficult beginning, but to get where we are now – I was reading on Twitter the other day, and I didn’t realize it, but I have never lost a position in a race. I have equaled my qualifying position or moved up. It was the best start you can have in your first year in racing.”

So who holds the advantage here?

Askew has proven to be quick on a weekly basis, and this weekend should be no different. If he can run up front and score another podium, the championship is easily his.

However, with 33 points on the table, any slip up could swing the results in Veekay’s favor. So Askew will be wanting to push hard and try to score another win, being a little conservative at times could be useful to protect the advantage.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Niall Murray Set For USF2000 Debut at Watkins Glen

Another driver will make his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debut this season, as Niall Murray is set for his first start at Watkins Glen International next month.

The 22-year-old came close to earning a full-time ride in the series, when he placed in the final six in the Mazda Road To Indy Shootout last December, narrowly losing out to Oliver Askew. 

Since then, he has kept in regular contact with Newman Wachs Team Manager Brian Halahan, which allowed the pair to put together the opportunity.

“Last year we met Brian Halahan from Newman Wachs Racing at the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout and we’ve kept in regular contact since,” he said. “I’m absolutely over the moon that this opportunity has finally come together. Having come so close last December, USF2000 is a series I’ve wanted to race in since, so I will be making sure I make the most of every lap. We’ve worked very hard behind the scenes to make this happen, and I have a lot of people around me to thank for this so I’ll be making sure to give them a good performance.

“I’m hoping this run in the car will help me if I make it back to the shootout again this year, and prove to the judges that I am very serious about my intentions of racing in the USA in 2018.”

The current British Formula Ford champion is set for an evaluation session in Chicago, prior to a two-day test on the 3.37-mile 11-turn Watkins Glen road course.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

 

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Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Thompson Continues his USF2000 Charge with Victory at Mid-Ohio

Pabst Racing Clinches its First Mazda Road to Indy Team Championship
 
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Parker Thompson has been on a roll of late in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The 19-year-old series veteran from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, led throughout this afternoon’s 30-minute Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Allied Building Products to claim his third win in the last four races for the Exclusive Autosport team.
 
Dutch teenager Rinus VeeKay finished second for Pabst Racing, while Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., the youngest driver in the field at just 15, completed the podium for Team Pelfrey.
 
VeeKay’s result, paired with a fifth-place finish for Guyana’s Calvin Ming, enabled Pabst Racing, from Oconomowoc, Wis., to secure the Team Championship with one race remaining. VeeKay also closed the gap to championship leader Oliver Askew, who finished fourth for Cape Motorsports, to just 13 points heading into the season finale at Watkins Glen International, N.Y, on September 2. At stake is a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $400,000 which will assist the champion in graduating to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next level on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, in 2018.
 
Thompson, who scored the Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport team’s first and second victory two weeks ago in Toronto, laid down the gauntlet by posting the fastest time on the final lap of qualifying for the championship’s 13th of 14 rounds earlier this morning. He duly translated his third pole of the season into the lead at the start, chased by fellow front row qualifier VeeKay and Askew, who had led the way in qualifying until encountering some slower traffic during the crucial final couple of minutes.
 
Askew made a bold move for second place on the entry to Turn One only to be rebuffed by his championship rival, VeeKay. Askew instead ended up losing a position to VeeKay’s teammate, Brazilian Lucas Kohl, at Turn Two. One lap later, Askew also was overtaken by Frederick at Turn Four.
 
While Thompson made his escape at the front of the field, VeeKay cruised to a relatively lonely second place after his pursuers lost time behind Kohl. Frederick moved into the final podium place by squeezing past the Brazilian on the long downhill run toward Turn Four, and was followed on the next lap by Askew.
 
Once into fourth, however, Askew encountered a problem with his car’s steering rack which left him vulnerable to the third Pabst car of Ming in the closing stages.
 
A late full-course caution, due to an incident in Turn Five involving Kory Enders (DEForce Racing) and Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), set up a four-lap dash to the finish. Thompson had no problems in fending off VeeKay and Frederick, while Askew narrowly maintain fourth ahead of Ming. 
 
David Malukas (BN Racing) passed Kohl soon after the restart to claim sixth ahead of Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), from New York, N.Y., who worked his way up from 12th, and Kohl.
 
Moises de la Vara (DEForce Racing), from Guadalajara, Mexico, secured the Staubli Award with his ninth-place finish, while Dev Gore, from Atlanta, Ga., ensured a good day for the Exclusive Autosport team by adding the Tilton Hard Charger Award to his teammate Thompson’s race win and the PFC Award.
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “That was amazing. In maybe two percent of my career can I say I had a perfect car but today, I had a perfect race car. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point that it almost looked easy – and it almost was easy. It was almost unreal when I got to the podium. Right now, I’m not racing for a championship, I’m racing for my career. I have to put out performances like this if I’m going to stay on the Mazda Road to Indy next year, so I did what I needed to do. I’m so proud of the Exclusive Autosport team. We’ve really turned our season around.”
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “My plan going in was just to drive smart and gain as many points on Oliver as I could. I saw Lucas and Kaylen pass him but I had to keep going. Parker had a good start and I was not so good so I had to defend from Oliver. I kept him behind so that was good. I was pushing pretty hard in the middle of the race so I didn’t have as much grip at the end. I had a good gap so I was not happy to see the yellow flag. I had a good restart and was able to keep Kaylen behind me, so this is a good result.”
 
Kaylen Frederick (Pilot ONE Racing-Team Pelfrey): “Yesterday I learned that you really have to set up four corners in advance when you’re going to make a move. I couldn’t get around people and that was frustrating. We looked at video and worked through a few strategies for the start and that’s where I made up all my positions. When I got behind Rinus, I just kept my head down and focused on getting better and better laps. I was happy when the yellow came out because I thought I might be able to get Rinus, but then I had to worry about Oliver. I couldn’t make the move stick on Rinus but I still like the result.”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Askew Takes Win Number Seven of the Season at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda rookie Oliver Askew was under a lot of pressure as he arrived at the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a pair of races this week that could well determine the outcome of the championship and a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $400,000 which will assist in graduation to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next level on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, in 2018.
 
The 20-year-old from Jupiter, Fla., in his first full season of car racing, had seen his once comfortable 60-point advantage whittled away to just 18 markers over fellow rookie Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing), from Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, with only three races remaining in the season. Today, Askew qualified Cape Motorsports’ Soul Red Tatuus-Mazda USF-17 comfortably on pole position, then led throughout the 30-minute race to secure his seventh win out of 12 races.
 
USF2000 veteran Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, who scored the first two victories for the Exclusive Autosport team just two weeks ago on the streets of Toronto, continued his excellent form by finishing a strong second ahead of title aspirant VeeKay.
 
Subsequently, Askew, who had on probation for previous start violations, was adjudged to have accelerated before the prescribed marker at the initial start and was assessed a 10-point championship penalty. He now leads VeeKay by 19 points with only one more race tomorrow and the season finale at Watkins Glen International in early September remaining.
 
Askew led from Kohl at the start, with Thompson and VeeKay anxiously looking for a way past. Thompson made his move for second place stick on the third lap, while VeeKay followed suit next time around. The trio traded fastest laps as they pulled well clear of Kohl, who in turn was under no pressure from teammate Calvin Ming, from Guyana, South America.
 
Just when it looked like Askew had the race under control, an incident between Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey), from Potomac, Md., and Moises de le Vara (DEForce Racing), from Guadalajara, who were battling mightily over seventh place, ended with contact at Turn Five, which necessitated a full-course caution. The restart came with less than five minutes remaining, and Askew was up for the challenge as he made an exemplary getaway to cement his advantage over Thompson and VeeKay.
 
Askew took the checkered flag 1.3282 seconds in front of Thompson, with his constant shadow VeeKay – on his very first visit to Mid-Ohio – right behind in third.
 
Kohl held on for fourth ahead of Ming and David Malukas (BN Racing), from Chicago Ridge, Ill., who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award following his impressive drive from 17th on the grid. Frederick, Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), from Warwick, N.Y., who snagged the Staubli Award, and Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., also were in close attendance at the finish line.
The Cape brothers, Dominic and Nicholas, claimed another PFC Award as the winning team owners.
 
Qualifying for the penultimate round of the 14-race season will take place tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. EDT, followed by the green flag at 12:10 p.m.
 
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “The penalty doesn’t change my mindset. The focus is to just keep on winning races and the championship will come in the end. We have the speed to qualify on pole and that’s huge here because it is quite difficult to pass. There was a ton of pressure going into this weekend and that pressure is still there. Cape Motorsports has dominated here the past few years, winning every race, so I know I’ll have a fast car again tomorrow and can go for the pole and the win again.”
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “I’m going to try to get as many wins for Exclusive Autosport as I can and when the dust settles on the championship, then it settles. I knew going in that I had a mathematical shot at the championship but realistically, it was going to be pretty hard to close that gap up. We had a shot for pole and for a win and that’s great. We ran old tires in the race today so that we would have new tires for qualifying and Race Two tomorrow, which puts us on a different strategy than everyone else so that’s going to be interesting!”
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “It was tough after qualifying. I had a pretty good session but I had a two-position grid penalty which put me in P4 and I was not so happy with that. I went into the race not sure what was going to happen, but focusing on just running hard. Third was the best spot I could get but it wasn’t enough to catch Oliver. We are going to go back now, watch videos, look at a lot of data and try to learn as much as possible. Hopefully we’ll have a super qualifying and win tomorrow to take some of these points back.”
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

USF2000 Observations: “Some Kid Decided to Run Into Me”

TORONTO, Ontario — The Honda Indy Toronto delivered the best of both worlds for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda – a clean race, along with a dramatic follow-up. Despite this, the red and white maple leaf waved in front of the Canadian fans both days with Alberta native Parker Thompson sweeping the weekend.

With the weekend complete, here are some observations…..

“I’m Honestly Speechless”

After placing second in the points standings last year driving for Cape Motorsports, Parker Thompson landed himself with a new team for 2017. Canada-based Exclusive Autosport made the decision to enter USF2000 competition after taking multiple F1600 Championships and wanted Thompson to lead the team.

While most teams tend to struggle in their rookie campaign, Exclusive Autosport came out of the gate strong, only scoring one finish outside of the top-five in the first eight races this season. Though one thing was missing – a victory.

Thompson proved last year he knew his way around the street circuit, sweeping the weekend, and that dominance showed through again this year, as he swept the weekend once again.

“If we could have swept any weekend on the calendar, I think it would’ve been Toronto,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “It is ultimately the best race of the season for us. (The) Canadian team, Canadian car, Canadian race and Canadian fans – unbelievable. I’m honestly speechless. That’s pretty rare for me. I usually have lots of words, but today has been unbelievable.”

The Canadian led all 25 laps in race one after starting from the pole, followed by avoiding a Lap 9 crash among the leaders to take over the top spot, driving away from the field on the restart.

“I backed off about a quarter of the way into the race because I knew something was going to go wrong,” he said. “I saw them battling way too hard, way too early so I backed off to make sure everything would be okay for us, and it worked out. I kind of foreseen that accident happening. I saw them going into turn three, made contact, and I knew coming around turn three that they’d probably be together, and I came around, and they were off to the side. It was just enough room to get by first.”

Currently sitting third in points, but 77 markers behind Oliver Askew, Thompson says his team is focused on trying to “out-win the season.”

“We’re going to go for as many wins as we can to try and finish off the season, and what happens, happens,” he said. “When the dust settles in the championship, it settles. I think if we just do our job as a team and go after race wins, it’ll just play out for us.”

An Inevitable Crash

From the drop of the green flag in the second race, the battle for the lead between Alex Baron and David Malukas for the top spot was intense, as Malukas tried to find away around Baron for the top spot. The battle grew to a point where Parker Thompson backed off in the fourth spot to give them room, while Oliver Askew hoped he could avoid it when it happened.

“It was an inevitable that they were going to crash,” Askew told POPULAR SPEED. “They were pretty desperate for a win there early. We went to turn three – I couldn’t back up because Parker was right behind me. They did end up crashing, and they wheel-hopped together and went to the inside. I was trying to avoid it, but they shot into me on the inside.”

Going into turn three, Malukas got a run on Baron, making a move to the inside. However, Baron came down on him, resulting in contact and both cars going around, with Askew getting caught up in the process.

“Well, basically I was in the lead, and some kid decided to bump into me from a stupid length behind me, and basically wreck me,” Baron told POPULAR SPEED.

Malukas took time post-race to review a replay of the crash with his team, confused why he was getting all the blame for the accident.

“I looked at the video and looking at that, going into turn three, I come in for a good pass, and then he puts me down close to the wall and gives me zero room,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “From that point, there’s nothing that I could do. I looked at the video, and I’m right next to the wall, right next to him – by that point, we’ve already touched in the middle of the apex. But before, if he would’ve given me a little more room, it would’ve been a clean pass.”

Despite posting just two top-10’s in six starts, he remains confident in his team based on the speed they showed at Road America and this past weekend.

“We had a good race in Road America and had a lot of speed here, as well,” he said. “In race one, we were six-tenths faster till we had a mechanical failure. This race, we had the new tires and were pushing. Confidence wise, it’s a good boost. It’s just quite unlucky, again, for this crash. So hopefully the next race we can finish up front.”

Solid Weekend for Veekay

In both events across the weekend, Rinus Veekay was able to run up front, placing third and second in the pair of races to gain valuable points in the championship, now sitting 18 points behind Oliver Askew – compared to a gap of over 30 points entering Toronto.

Veekay has been solid on a weekly basis this year, not placing outside of the top-six with nine top-five’s in 10 races. In comparison, though, Askew has won five races – along with two finishes outside of the top-10.

Despite the points gap shrinking, Askew is remaining focused on the end goal, knowing that he cannot get complacent.

“I think we saw that we could have a bad weekend, at Road America for example,” he said. “It was tough for us. We just have to keep going, one race at a time. I don’t think they’ve taught me anything particular, but just things, in general, each week.”

Frederick Rebounds

Kaylen Frederick did not start off the weekend as he wanted, but he will leave Toronto with a smile on his face.

The teenager had a mechanical issue on Lap 2 of the first race, followed by qualifying 13th for the second event following a penalty. However, he was able to avoid the wrecks on Sunday, driving through the field to place third.

“It was great,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I went into the race thinking I could only move forward from here, so I just put my head down and passed cars one-by-one. As they were crashing out, I kept it off the wall, so I’m really happy with how things played out today.”

With eight top-six finishes in 10 races, Frederick knows he has the speed to run up front but is aware that qualifying needs to go better if he wants to break through for his first career victory.

“I think if I start up in the top-five and keep doing what I’m doing, it’ll come,” he said.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

 

 

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Thompson Doubles Up for Exclusive Autosport in Canadian Homeland

Dutchman VeeKay Finishes Second to Narrow Points Deficit to Crash-Affected Askew
 
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – For the second day in a row, Canadian Parker Thompson guided his Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-17 to a hard-won victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. The native of Red Deer, Alb., was assisted on this occasion by an incident which eliminated the top three contenders, including Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Oliver Askew. Thompson then had to work hard to keep fellow teenager Rinus VeeKay, from The Netherlands, behind him.
 
Also for the second successive day, Pabst Racing’s VeeKay earned an extra championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race. He now trails Askew by only 18 points with just three races remaining this season.
 
Kaylen Frederick, 15, from Potomac, Md., also impressed for Team Pelfrey, claiming the Tilton Hard Charger Award as he rose from 13th on the grid to third at the checkered flag.
 
Askew started from the pole for Cape Motorsports, having posted a new qualifying lap record yesterday, but came under pressure immediately from fellow front row qualifier David Malukas (BN Racing). When the two leaders both left their braking a fraction too late and slid wide in Turn Three, Anglo-Frenchman Alex Baron (ArmsUp Motorsports) was perfectly positioned to take advantage and advance from third to first in one fell swoop. Askew continued in second, but Malukas was determined to use his pace to its fullest effect. 
 
Thompson and VeeKay also were in close attendance as the five leaders edged clear of Team Pelfrey’s Robert Megennis and the remainder of the field. Malukas snuck past Askew for second place in Turn Eight on Lap Four, and immediately began to put the pressure on Baron, who was turning consistent laps at the front of the pack. 
 
Malukas drew alongside Baron several times on the drag race along Lake Shore Boulevard, only for Baron to ensure he held the preferred inside line under braking for Turn Three. Finally, on the ninth lap, Baron slipped a little wide at the exit, whereupon Malukas dived for the inside as they accelerated uphill out of the hairpin before making contact with the rear of Baron’s car and spinning him around. A close-following Askew also was involved.
 
Thompson and VeeKay managed to avoid the spinning cars and inherited the top two positions as the Safety Car was deployed to clear the track. 
 
Thompson romped clear at the restart to claim his third win in two years on the streets of Exhibition Place just a few miles from downtown Toronto, while VeeKay charged hard to close the gap and finished just 0.6379 second in arrears.
 
Frederick charged through to seventh prior to the caution and, despite losing a position to Devin Wojcik (ArmsUp Motorsports) soon after the restart, quickly regrouped and continued his forward progress to finish fourth.
 
Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., also drove a fine race, raising from 11th on the grid to fourth ahead of Megennis and Wojcik, who claimed a season-best sixth.
 
Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe, from Saskatoon, Sas., Canada, claimed his second successive PFC Award as the winning car owner, while Keane secured the Staubli Award.
 
Askew leads the championship with 283 points to VeeKay’s 265 as the USF2000 contenders head next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for another double-header event on July 28-30.
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “I’m surprised I still have a voice! What a feeling, to get two in ‘TO’ in front of the Canadian fans! I’d say this is unbelievable, but it’s past that now and into its own new realm. I knew I had the pace so I hung back to let things string out before I attacked. I saw the three of them lock up so I backed off and I had just enough of a gap to squeeze through. And after yesterday, I was really calm on the restart. I had my team owner, Michael Duncalfe, talking to me on the radio keeping me prepared, so I just got a good jump on the restart and worked to keep Rinus behind me the rest of the way. The Exclusive Autosport crew has done such a great job – to take two wins, two poles and multiple podiums in their first season on the Mazda Road to Indy is outstanding. We’re only getting stronger.”
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “My first thought when I saw what was happening to the guys ahead of me was to not get in there, to just go around and stay on track. Once we went green, I had a good restart and I wanted to pass Parker for the points, but Robert had a great restart and he was right on my gearbox. I had to defend, and there was some wheel-banging, and that let Parker get away. I had the speed, getting the quick lap late in the race, but I got the most points I could and that’s what’s important. But I have to say, if I couldn’t win here, I am happy that Parker won.”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Canadian Thompson Claims Emotional Repeat USF2000 Win in Toronto

First-Ever Win for Saskatchewan-based Exclusive Autosport Team
 
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Series veteran Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada has endured a torrid time since joining the Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport team’s campaign for this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, but, in storybook style, all the pieces fell into place today on home soil in the first of two races this weekend which comprise the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. Thompson, 19, who claimed an emotional victory last year on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place, rediscovered that form today as he led throughout an all-green 30-minute race to secure his first win of the season.
 
Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., extended his championship lead for the Cape Motorsports team by finishing second ahead of his closest title rival, Dutchman Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing), who snared the bonus point for fastest race lap in the closing stages.
 
After a particularly difficult time last Sunday on the Iowa Speedway oval, Thompson and the team regrouped this week and were determined to put on a good showing in their native Canada. Thompson delivered in spades. He qualified on the pole yesterday afternoon – a first for Exclusive Autosport – and made a perfect getaway at the rolling start to lead from Askew, VeeKay and Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey).
 
The top three positions remained unchanged throughout the 25-lap, 30-minute race, but there was plenty of action in their wake. Firstly, a mistake by Frederick while under pressure from David Malukas (BN Racing) saw him collect the wall in Turn Eight. Malukas then closed quickly on the leading trio and managed to sneak past VeeKay for third place in Turn Eight before a broken camber bolt in his rear suspension ended another promising day after just nine laps.
 
Mexico City’s Jose Sierra drove an impressive race for DEForce Racing to finish fourth on his debut and snag the Staubli Award. Sierra profited when a close-following Calvin Ming (Pabst Racing), from Guyana, and Frenchman Alex Baron (ArmsUp Motorsports) collided at Turn Three while Baron was trying to make a pass. Robert Megennis also was in the mix for Team Pelfrey before clipping the wall in Turn Six and breaking his Tatuus USF-17’s suspension.
 
Brazilian Lucas Kohl thereby inherited fifth place, which earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award having lined up 12th on the starting grid.
 
Baron recovered to sixth ahead of teammate Devin Wojcik, who survived two scrapes with the wall in the closing stages. Both picked up two positions after Moises de la Vara (DEForce Racing) was penalized for overly defensive driving.
 
The PFC Award went to winning car owner Michael Duncalfe following his team’s maiden USF2000 victory.
 
A separate qualifying session earlier this morning saw Askew snare the pole position for tomorrow’s 11th round of the 14-race season with a new lap record of 1:12.2192 (89.029 mph). The green flag is slated for 9:40 a.m. EDT tomorrow morning. Live timing and live streaming will be available on the series website, usf2000.com, as well as on indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App and RoadToIndy.TV.
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “When the checkered flag came out, the emotions were just so high – I was screaming, so I apologize to anybody on my radio channel. This win tops anything I’ve done this year. It’s extremely hard to win in this series and I think I took a few wins for granted last year, but to have the team behind me here is so emotional. They are so invested in winning so to get the job done for them and get our first win together feels so good. It’s been a testing season – Exclusive Autosport is new to the Mazda Road to Indy so we knew we had a tough challenge against some very dominant teams. But coming into our home race, we were very confident. I know I’m fast here and I knew we had a great street course setup from St. Pete and the team did what they do best: they gave me a great race car and I drove it well to take the win. I can’t thank them enough!”
 
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “I was a tenth quicker than Parker but with the track having such low grip, it’s hard to pass. There’s aero loss at other tracks but here it’s magnified because it’s so slick. I couldn’t do anything because of the aero wash. You have to be so precise and get your turn-in points right and hit your marks. If you turn in too wide you’re going to completely lose the car. It’s demanding but I enjoy it – it’s a great challenge and it’s something different. I’ll have a better starting position tomorrow so I’ll be able to go for more points.”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Parker Thompson Going All-in For Victory in Toronto

TORONTO, Ont. — Last year, Parker Thompson put together an impressive Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda season, finishing second in points with a victory on the streets of Toronto.

The Alberta native returns to Ontario’s capital a year later, looking to repeat the dominating performance once again – though driving for a different race team than last season. Exclusive Autosport made the decision to enter USF2000 competition after taking home multiple F1600 Championships, pegging Thompson as one of their drivers.

With a pair of thirds in eight races this season, Thompson has been pleased with the team’s progress, noting they are the first team in the last decade to enter the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires and score podium finishes.

While the transition period has been smooth, he stated one of the biggest differences from the past two years to now is playing the role as a team leader.

“You have to lead car development, media, marketing – you have to be the lead, and get the engineers up to speed, too,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m working with Christophe Boisclair – he’s an amazing engineer, but it’s his first year in USF2000. He did great in F1600; they’ve won many championships. But now, you’re not only adding mechanical changes but aerodynamics. So that’s something we’re working together and getting used to.”

Thompson feels they are right on the cusp of breaking through for their first career victory but need to eliminate the small mistakes they have been making throughout race weekends.

“It’s not necessarily that we don’t have a fast car; it’s just we miss little things on tire strategy, whether it be qualifying or the races, that kind of leads to a fifth-place finish or just off the podium,” he said. “I think once we start learning how these weekends go and we get better at the strategy throughout the weekend, we will be right there.”

Returning to a place that he has won at before couldn’t come at a better time, based on where he sits in points. Currently sitting fourth in the standings, just over 100 points behind Oliver Askew, the focus has been solely put on getting to victory lane.

“There’s a lot more for me to gain than there is for me to lose,” the Canadian said. “So I’m not thinking about the championship at all, but coming out of here with two race wins for the Canadian fans. So that’s what we’re focused on at the end of the day. We’re going for wins no matter what, and hopefully, we have some good results at the end of the weekend.”

While you may say he is set to ‘go for broke,’ the advice he received from his coach Buddy Rice will be in the back of his mind throughout both events – risk versus reward.

“He always taught that before you make any decision on-track, two things that come up – is it worth the risk, or is it worth the reward? I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind when you’re racing, especially here on a street course,” he said. “Is it a couple of extra tenths worth a hit on the wall? You have to make that quick second decision. ”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.