Two Top Ten Finishes for McCusker at Barber
Two Top Ten Finishes for McCusker at Barber
Birmingham, AL (April 26, 2016)- After a tough season opener in St Petersburg, Austin McCusker found himself in Birmingham, AL at one of the most beautiful racetracks in the United States. Barber Motorsports Park was the second stop in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda and with Austin missing the series test in late February he and the team had a lot of catching up to do. Learning as much as he and the team could in the four 30 minute test/practice sessions; Austin was only 8 tenths off pole at the end of his qualifying session placing him 13th on the starting grid. After some intense racing Austin drove his Primus racing Part/ Dot Works USF2000 car to a 10th position in race 1 and 8th position in race 2, leaving him in a better position than a month ago in ST. Pete for the season opener.
After coming back from great test, Austin and his team knew the direction they needed to go with the car going into the Thursday test/practice sessions. Austin knew that learning the trick track of Barber Motorsports Park would be challenging at first, but he had a bunch of confidence going into the race weekend. Two 30 minute test sessions and two 30 minute official practice sessions is what Austin had to work with; to learn the track and develop the setup of the car. Rain was on the forecast on Thursday leaving three of the four sessions with dry conditions, while the last session was wet conditions. Austin and the team opted not to participate in the final practice. At the end of the day, after learning the track and making a few adjustments to the car, Austin found himself 11th quickest, with a lap time of 1:25.8167. Next up was qualifying and race 1 on Friday; with the Primus Racing Parts/Dot Works USF2000 car having a solid setup Austin knew that he could improve his lap time.
On and off showers were predicted in Birmingham for Fridays qualifying and race. The USF2000 cars hit the track early in the morning for qualifying, just missing the rain that was soon to come. Austin did a total of 12 laps during his qualifying session, putting down a 1:25.5456 lap time. Only .8767 seconds off the pole time, Austin was placed 13th on the grid for race 1. The sky’s opened up about midday on Friday, causing thunder, lightning and huge amounts of rain. Luckily the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda had late race at 4:15pm right after IndyCar practice. This speed up the process of the track drying tremendously, which soon enabled the USF2000 car’s to have a dry race. At the start of the race Austin moved up one spot in 12th and then a few laps later he was able to slide into the 11th spot, due to another driver making a mistake. Austin then ran most of the race in a difficult pack of four cars, until about four laps to go. Austin had a run on the driver in the 10th position coming out of turn 9 and all the way up to turn 15. He then made a late pass into turn 16 and made it stick, moving him up to the 10th position. Austin then cruised the finish and coming home with a 10th place finish. Race 2 was the next day, where Austin believed he could improve his finishing position.
Soon after Austin’s autograph session, where he interacted with some great fans, he was strapped into his Mazda powered USF2000 car ready to go for race 2, starting again in 13th position. By the end of lap one Austin made his way up to 10th position, where he would remain until about half way through the race. McCusker was about 15 minutes into race 2 when he was challenged for the position. After holding his competitor off for a few laps he was able to squeeze by going into turn 7, which put him in 11th. With about five laps to go a caution came out due to an incident with two other drivers, moving Austin up to 9th position. Then on the final lap Austin moved up to 8th position due to driver making a mistake in turn 13.
“It was a great weekend at Barber Motorsports Park for both the team and myself. The pair of top ten finishes is a real confidence booster for me and I still think we can be further up the grid with our pace in both races. With the way the team and I did this weekend, I think we can better our finishes in Indy. I couldn’t be here with out my partners and I have to thank Dot Works and Primus Racing Parts for all they have done.”, Austin commneted at the end of his race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
Next up for the young American in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda is the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course of the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. May 11-14 are the day’s Austin will be on the famous Motor Speedway, attempting to better his pair of top ten finishes in Barber.