Expanded Cooper Tires Winterfest Heads to Louisiana and Alabama
 February 20, 2014| 
  • Series News
Four Races for Pro Mazda, Six for USF2000, Plus Extended Testing for Indy Lights

PALMETTO, Fla. (February 20, 2014) – The fourth annual Cooper Tires Winterfest will kick off on Friday, February 21, with an expanded portfolio, plenty of track time for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder and two new venues.

What began in 2011 as a four-race mini-series in Florida for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda now has grown into a twin-state fiesta which will comprise six races for USF2000 and four races for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, as well as a comprehensive test outing for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors. The entire extravaganza will take place over a seven-day period beginning this Friday and Saturday, February 21/22, at NOLA Motorsports Park, just outside New Orleans, La., and continuing next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25/26, at Barber Motorsports Park, near Birmingham, Ala.

The popular Winterfest concept will enable teams and drivers to gain a head start on preparations for the “regular season” which will begin on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in conjunction with the IndyCar Series, on March 28-30.

2013 Race Winners Shelby Blackstock, Spencer Pigot Head Pro Mazda Hopefuls
A promising field of 16 competitors is set to contest the first-ever Cooper Tires Winterfest for Pro Mazda, which will consist of two races each at NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park.

The entry list is headed by Shelby Blackstock and Spencer Pigot, who each won once last year during their rookie Pro Mazda campaigns. Nashville’s Blackstock, the son of country singing star Reba McEntire, has begun to carve his own niche in life and is set to step out from the shadow of erstwhile Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham, who dominated the title-chase in 2013. Blackstock, indeed, has already tasted the spoils of victory in 2014 after scooping top honors in January’s IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Championship opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Fellow American Spencer Pigot, 20, from Orlando, Fla., who won a total of 11 USF2000 races in 2011 and 2012, only to narrowly lose out on the title on each occasion, has joined forces with 2010 series champions Juncos Racing and has but one aim: the championship.

Kyle Kaiser, still only 17, also has joined Juncos Racing and is looking to build upon a promising debut Pro Mazda campaign with World Speed Motorsports.

Among the strong rookie contingent will be teammates Scott Hargrove and Neil Alberico. After combining to win 10 races and finish first and second in the USF2000 title-chase for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, both team and drivers are stepping up into Pro Mazda for 2014.

Canada’s Garett Grist, who won one race as well as clinching USF2000 Rookie of the Year honors in 2013, also will graduate one level with Andretti Autosport, while the inspirational Michael Johnson – the only paralyzed racer on the Mazda Road to Indy – will take the same step with JDC MotorSports.

Other potential contenders will include Brazilian Pipo Derani, a veteran of Formula 3 in Europe and podium finisher at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix who will drive for locally based Team Pelfrey; Mexican teenager Jose Gutierrez (Juncos Racing), who contested four Pro Mazda races in 2013; and a couple of talented young ladies, Julia Ballario, from Argentina, who will also drive for Juncos Racing, and Michele Bumgarner, from the Philippines, who will fly the flag for World Speed Motorsports.
 
Cooper Tires Winterfest Schedule
Indy Lights competitors will have a total of more than six hours of track time at each of the two venues split into four sessions over two days. USF2000 and Pro Mazda each will start out with a practice session and a qualifying session on Day 1, followed by one race later in the afternoon. Day 2 at each track will comprise two practice sessions and one race for Pro Mazda and one practice plus two additional races for USF2000.

Live timing will be available on the respective series websites, www.indylights.com, www.promazdachampionship.com and www.usf2000.com.
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