The new year got off to the best possible start for new Cape Motorsports driver Neil Alberico. The 19-year-old Californian came to Florida’s Sebring Raceway for the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest and walked away with three wins.
Alberico drove away from everybody in the first race of the event, on Tuesday afternoon. The next two were closer; his margins of victory were only 1.395 seconds in Wednesday’s first race and 1.895 in the final race of the day.
Still, Alberico crossed the finish line first in all three events and set fastest race lap both days while doing so.
The teen driver, in his second season in USF 2000, was very low-key about sweeping the event—he was already looking forward to the next races.
“It feels good, obviously—that’s the goal in any race weekend,” he said. “Cape Motorsports has done a great job all season long—it’s definitely a team effort.
“It wasn’t easy, for sure, but that’s the way you want to start the season with three wins in there races I look forward to Palm Beach to finish it off.”
Alberico made it clear that an equal part of the accolades belong to the team owners and the crew. “The team owners Nicolas and Dominic cape, they do a great job working together, and it’s not just those guys; it’s everyone else, all the mechanics busting their butts all week long.
“Will [the mechanic in charge of Alberico’s car] did a great job working with me and same with Alan, Chris and Cisco—all those guys,” he continued, naming crew members. “Same with my team mates—it’s definitely a team effort.”
That team effort paid off in a big way for Cape Motorsports, but the other teams were starting to catch up by the third race. The Caper crew will have to stay on their game to continue winning at the next races.
The event as a whole was a huge triumph for Cape Motorsports another new acquisition, 17-year-old Canadian wunderkind Scott Hargrove, finished second in all three events. Another Cape Motorsports driver, 18-year-old James Fletcher of Surrey, England, finished third in the second race and fourth in the third, giving the team seven out of nine possible podium positions.
Winterfest is a six-race series held over two weekends where USF2000 teams compete in six races in preparation for the 14-race Championship season. USF2000 is the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder of series which groom drivers to one day drive in IndyCar.
USF2000 cars have less aero and less power (170 bhp from their 2-liter Mazda inline 4s) than the more advanced 260-bhp rotary-engined StarMazda cars, which in turn are a level below 420-bhp, 4.2-liter Infiniti V8-powered Indy Lights. The final step is the 650-bhp Dallara DW-12 used in IndyCar.
Plenty of famous racers have started in USF2000: Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, IndyCar’s J.R. Hildebrand and Jay Howard, and sports car racers Jonathan Bomarito and Bryan Selllers all won USF2000 championships.
The final three Winterfest races take place on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9 and 10, at Palm Beach International Raceway. Tickets for the weekend are only $25 or $15 for one day, children under ten are free. Tickets can be purchased online through the Palm Beach International Raceway ticket site.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.