FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Petersburg, FL (March 10, 2017) – This weekend started off on a bit of a rough note for the Newman Wachs Racing Team after Rookie Andre Castro made hard contact with the wall at Turn 3 during yesterday’s practice, on the St. Petersburg 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. Team Manager Brian Halahan and his crew worked hard last night to repair the car and get it ready for this morning’s qualifying session. IndyCar Officials requested that changes be made overnight to Turn 3 because other drivers had also brushed the wall in that corner.
In this morning’s first qualifying session for Race 1 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Series, Andre Castro tapped the wall again causing left rear damage to his #37 machine. Even though he managed to qualify 7th, the session was a steep learning curve for the young driver, as he got to run very few laps. Cameron Das also had to spend time learning the track, as he did not run here last year. Das qualified 11th and is confident for tomorrow’s race. Dakota Dickerson was happy with his session. Dickerson recorded a fast time of 1:15,614 earning him a fourth place on the starting grid for Race 1.
With less damage to the #37 car, the NWR crew was once again able to get it repaired quickly just in time for Race 2 qualifying, less than two hours later.
Again, Andre Castro had problems even before he cold complete a full lap at speed. He lost power coming out of Turn 8 and came to a stop at Turn 10, causing a red flag. This also caused him to lose his fastest lap, and will start last on the grid for Race 2. Cameron Das was trying to get a clear lap when his #38 car gently tapped the wall coming out of Turn 9, but he made it back to the pits. He will start tomorrow’s race 2 in 18th position. As for Dakota Dickerson, he put in a time of 1:15,677 at the very end of the session and it landed him again, in fourth position on the grid.
Team Principal Eddie Wachs arrived at track yesterday to support the Team on their first race of the season. Wachs was a very popular figure in the paddock all day.
Dakota Dickerson (car #36): “The first qualifying session went pretty well. I was just trying to get a good read on the new corner (Turn 3) in particular, and after that we had a few laps before we could push before the red flag came out. The car felt pretty good compared to yesterday, but I was mainly just trying to learn more about the track in the new corner. Turn 3 is better with regards to the bump, not nearly as aggressive as it was yesterday, but it’s till very high risk. The wall is right there, and you’re always off camber through that corner, but I think it’s safer than it was yesterday.
In second qualifying, I got my fast lap at the very end, before the red flag came out, and that was crucial, because the majority of that time, we were basically just pacing around, trying to find open track and managed to find a few clear laps at the very end. But, I came very close to not having a lap for qualifying which would have put us in a tough position for the race. I’m really glad we could get up there at the end.”
Andre Castro (Car #37) – In the first qualifying session, I started off with building up some speed, since it was early in the morning, and the track was cold. I only got three laps in during yesterday’s practice, so for me, it was about learning the track and getting comfortable in the car. With the walls all around, I didn’t do a very good job of that. I got a little sideways at the end of Turn 3, and hit the wall again. Got some left rear damage. But still, I’ll be starting seventh for tomorrow’s first race. It’s a good start for my first ever race. I’m pretty happy with that.
In second qualifying, I went out on the warm-up lap, and made it all the way around, but on the first real lap, when I was coming out of Turn 8, I just lost drive. The engine was still running, but I had no power, so the car stopped by Turn 10. It’s very unfortunate, because I think this was a really good session for me. And, the crew had done such a great job putting the car together after I hit the wall yesterday, in practice. It’s a shame we couldn’t show what we had. I can’t thank the Team enough for all their hard work.”
Cameron Das (car #38) – “The first qualifying session went well. I was really just trying to learn the track again, because we only got a few laps in yesterday, so it was more about figuring everything out, figuring out the new corner (Turn 3), feeling out the changes we did. The car felt a lot better. We’re going to make a few more improvements for second qualifying, but I was feeling pretty confident.
In second qualifying, things were going alright. The car felt better at the beginning. I got caught up in a little bit of traffic and had to waste a few laps to make a gap, and then, unfortunately, I tapped the wall at the exit of Turn 9, which was just enough damage for me to have to come into the pits. It’s not the best qualifying, but I think we have a good read on the car, so I should at least have a good run in Race 1.”
About the Newman Wachs Racing Team:
Newman Wachs Racing (NWR) is a racing team owned by Eddie Wachs and, until his death, American actor and racer himself, Paul Newman. NWR is based outside of Chicago, in Mundelein, Illinois. Newman and Wachs shared the same passion for racing and met when they both competed in the Can-Am Series in the mid-1970’s. They raced together for 15 years in Trans-Am, Can-Am, and many other SCCA professional venues. Over the years, they talked about joining forces to create a driver-development race team. They put together a Champ Car Atlantic team for the 2006 season to meet their objectives. In 2009, John Edwards won the Championship for NWR, beating teammate Jonathan Summerton in a tiebreaker.
About the USF2000 Series:
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly regarded USF2000 series that ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy. In addition to providing a vital training ground for rising stars, the series champion will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next step in the ladder system.
Aside from being one of the most successful driver development programs in the world, the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system has attracted competitors from all over the world, while providing a unique, scholarship-funded path to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.