By Christopher DeHarde, Contributing Writer
After the fourth race weekend of the inaugural season of the F4 US Championship Powered by Honda, numerous storylines emerged from the Road Atlanta circuit from a driver’s perspective and also from a team perspective. Here’s a look at two such stories from each category.
Das Is Perfect
Cameron Das is only in his first year of racing but has impressed in F4. The Baltimore native raced in USF2000 this year and racing that series helped Das get prepared for running in F4. The proof is in the points table as Das swept the three races at Road Atlanta to extend his race winning streak to five races as the championship heads into the final race weekend of the year at Homestead Miami Speedway.
With Das’s victories his points lead grew to 30, and with 25 points available for a win, Das has a one race buffer in case anything major happens.
The JDX Racing driver led handily at the end of each race after starting on pole for all three races and wasn’t really challenged after securing a gap at the start of each race. For Das, the weekend was just about perfect.
“We were the quickest every session as far as I was concerned, the car was really consistent and I could do the same times throughout the race and it really couldn’t have gone much better,” Das said.
Robinson Pinch Hits
Skylar Robinson wasn’t planning on driving an F4 car at Road Atlanta. The son of chief steward Chip Robinson was planning on driving one of the historic cars at the track but a family issues withdrawal for Michael Goodyear freed up the No. 4 entry on the Goodyear/Miller/Vinatieri Motorsports team for Robinson to take over.
Robinson got the call at 11:30 Friday night so there was no time to practice before the first race on Saturday morning. Practice wouldn’t be necessary as although Robinson started from the pits for race one, he charged to third by the end of the race.
But because Robinson and Goodyear don’t weigh the same, the weight was slightly off on the No. 4 car and Robinson was excluded from the first race’s results for being about eight pounds underweight.
“It was unfortunate, I guess that’s all I can really say. I think the thing is I know it makes me look good but without the car being as good as it was, I couldn’t do that. I mean, the team did an awesome job getting the car ready for me and mistakes like that happen. Nobody’s going to be happy about that, everyone’s going to be kind of mad about it but what we did was we just kind of moved on and focused on the next race because it’s all we can do,” Robinson said.
Robinson would start from the back of the field for race two and got all the way up to fourth place by race’s end.
In race three, Robinson started second but late in the race had a spin that dropped him far down the order but the Augusta, GA native managed to claw his way back up to sixth.
“[The weekend] definitely had its positives and negatives, positives being that we always battled back, we had really really good pace, I think we had fastest lap of the weekend overall for F4,” Robinson said.
“Cameron’s been really quick and nobody’s really been able to run with him or even catch him and we were able to do that in the last race and in the first race. It was a good weekend, in the last race I made a mistake so it’s always frustrating when you have that opportunity and you throw it away or throw it off so it’s frustrating for myself and you feel like you let the team down so it’s not good but we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Challenges Hit Bamford Motorsports
In motorsports there are winners and losers, there’s no other way to say it. Different competitors have different standards for winning and losing. For some, getting a top five is a win while for others, just finishing can be a victory in and of itself. For Steve Bamford’s team, showing up and finishing all three races has to be classified as a victory.
The Canadian-based team were traveling to Road Atlanta when their trailer broke down in West Virginia after starting out in Toronto. Rather than sit on the sideline, the team secured a Penske rental truck, moved their car and as many tools as they could inside and then drove the rest of the way to Braselton.
Bamford ended up finishing ninth, seventh and 12th in his No. 07 car, all the while getting help from other teams in the paddock. Not a bad job for the only owner-driver in the series.
Group A Racing Perseveres
Of all the teams racing at Road Atlanta, Group A Racing seemed to have the most problems at the track, but the team still managed to have both cars in at every race.
In race one at Road Atlanta, the team’s two cars were involved in an accident with one car coming down pit lane without a right sidepod cover. Both cars were fixed for that afternoon’s race and started from the pits.
Both cars completed all 21 laps of race two but before the start of race three, one car was leaking a fluid in the team’s paddock area. The team acted quickly, fixing the leak and got the car to the grid where it started in its normal grid position. Group A scored two points during the weekend, hardly a reward for the effort that the team had to put in.
It should be noted that four different teams occupied the first four positions in each race. JDX Racing, Primus Racing, Leading Edge Grand Prix and GMV Motorsports had the top four spots in each race.
Race three of the weekend had the only safety car as a three car incident took out JDX Racing teammates Darren Keane and Blake Mount while GMV Motorsports’ Balthazar Leguizamon was also involved.
There is talk of the championship expanding with more races for 2017 but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
After some worry about car count from Crawford Composites being behind on car production, expect larger grids for next season as the championship finds its path.
Kyle Kirkwood and Konrad Czaczyk will be representing F4 US when they compete for the right to represent Team USA in the international Formula Ford Festival in England. Four other drivers will be competing against them before two drivers are selected to compete.