Night Before the 500 - USF2000 National Championship at Lucas Oil Raceway, Indianapolis, Indiana

May 29, 2011

Indianapolis, IN - The Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda series completed its third round of the 2011 season with a 70-lap oval race at Lucas Oil Speedway, just outside Indianapolis.  Gerardo Bonilla served again as driver mentor to the 15 drivers entered.

The 70-lap feature was won by Petri Suvanto, driving for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.  Suvanto first had to fend off an incredible start by Andretti Autosport driver Spencer Pigot, who jumped nearly into the lead by Turn 3 on the opening lap from his 6th place starting position.  Pigot then fell to 3rd behind his Andretti Autosport teammate and 2nd place starter Zach Veach. 

Suvanto and Veach battled for the lead, while sleeper Luke Ellery driving for JDC Motorsports mounted his charge to the front after falling as far back as 8th.  Before the leaders knew it, Veach had been demoted to 3rd by Ellery.  In a classic short oval traffic play, Ellery used his momentum to blast into the lead as Suvanto slowed for a lapped car in Turn 1.

Luke Ellery would continue to lead ahead of Suvanto and Veach, until Rodin Younessi, driving for Pabst Racing Services, spun in Turn 3, collecting the race leading Ellery.  “I thought (Younessi) would lock up the brakes or drive it down low.  I was already high, so I stayed high, and he slid up the track.  I had no where to go.” recounted a disappointed Ellery. 

Petri Suvanto timed his restart well and continued to hold off a hard charging Zach Veach until the finish.  Juan Piedrahita, driving for JDC Motorsports, would finish third, ahead of Spencer Pigot and Wayne Boyd. 

As a driver mentor to all the drivers, Gerardo Bonilla’s night was equally exciting from his perspective in the control tower.  “I was on pins and needles the entire race.  Are you sure it was only thirty minutes?  I want all the drivers to do well, so every time they were close, which was every lap, I was nervous as heck up in race control.  I had Johnny Unser up there with me to help evaluate the drivers, making my job a lot easier!  Those guys put on a hell of a show.  Only one caution, and lots of awesome racing.  The fans should feel great about what they saw.” related Bonilla. 

Bonilla testing for Skip Barber Race Series

Watkins Glen, NY - Gerardo Bonilla has added more work to his 2011 professional driving repertoire in the form of test driver duties for the Skip Barber Race Series. 

Most recently, Bonilla tested the Skip Barber Formula 2000 cars at Watkins Glen International for Skip’s Regional Summer Series, in addition to his duties as a data analyst for drivers who add that service to their weekend.  “Greg Strelzoff was our only customer for the intensive data day on Thursday, so the staff asked if I would spend time on test driver duty to help with car equalizations and fixes.  It’s a great job to have by any driver’s standard, so I couldn’t pass it up,” related Bonilla.

Bonilla also tested for Skip Barber at the recent Skip Barber National races at Virginia International Raceway in late April.  At that event, the cars were fitted with the latest specification BFGoodrich R1 competition slicks.  Bonilla likes to point out how much the slicks change the character of the Skip Barber Formula cars.  “It basically makes the car a lot like other much faster, and much more expensive formula cars like the Star Mazda and Atlantic cars.  You get the satisfaction of driving into the corners with ridiculous amounts of entry speed, then carefully decelerate the car with just the right amount of brake release.  It’s really awesome, frankly!” commented Bonilla.

This coming weekend Bonilla puts on his coach’s hat for driver mentor duties for the USF2000 National Championship presented by Mazda at the Night Before the 500 race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.  Bonilla added, “The USF2000 kids are pretty awesome.  Lots of fast drivers and really strong teams.  What a cool series Dan Andersen has put together, and a real treat to be asked to coach for all the drivers.  It’s like Skip Barber on steroids.  It’s really cool.” 

© Gerardo Bonilla 2015