Kohlbecker Claims Two Top-Tens, Mann Makes USF2000 Debut
Portland, Ore. (September 8, 2022) – Rookie Christian Weir capped off the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship with his second podium finish of the year at Portland International Raceway last weekend, racing his way up to third in Race 3 of the Road to Indy Presented by Coopers finale. The 15-year-old earned another podium finish as well as a pole position earlier this year at Barber Motorsports Park as well as nine additional top-ten finishes throughout his debut season in USF2000.
Weir qualified 11th for what promised to be an eventful Race 1 with many drivers’ championships on the line. Weir made it through the opening lap commotion, but it wasn’t long before the #32 driver made contact with the #3 car of Jagger Jones in Turns 1/2, whirling him around and having to restart his charge, finishing P11.
Weir started Race 2 from the eighth position, and after another chaotic start, found his way up to fifth by the end of Lap 1. After a shortened 18-lap race due to a fallen jumbotron earlier in the day, Weir crossed the start/finish line in P5 for the second of three races.
In Race 3, Weir once again had to take an evasive maneuver at the start, this time coming out of the mess in fourth position. When the leader had to serve a drive-through penalty following the restart, Weir moved up to third in the field and set to work on the second place car of Nicky Hays. Weir made several strikes for second while also defending third position over the course of the 25-lap race but wasn’t able to get by before the checkers, resulting in a well-earned third place finish in the final race of the year.
#32 Christian Weir // USF2000
“Closing this weekend and this whole season, we can look back at some of the success we had,” said Weir. “Even though it hadn’t gone exactly the way we hoped, when we got it right, the results showed it. This weekend we had the pace to win, but with the challenge of passing on Portland’s long sweeping corners, it prevented that. I just want to say thank you to the team for pushing through all these tough times, and I’m so glad we ended the season on a high.”
Spike Kohlbecker qualified his #33 car P16 for the first of three races while rookie Lucas Mann put the #34 car P20 for his first ever USF2000 race. Both drivers were able to avoid the first lap kerfuffle in Race 1, putting them further ahead in the field by the end of Lap 1. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long for Kohlbecker as he was spun shortly after the restart, causing him to fall behind and finish the race in P13. Meanwhile, Mann stayed focused on completing all 25 laps without setbacks to finish Race 1 in P15.
More mayhem ensued at the start of Race 2 with Kohlbecker and Mann once again able to find an advantage and improve up to P7 from P13 and to P14 from P19, respectively. Following a sold run, Kohlbecker finished Race 2 in P8 with Mann coming in P13.
In the third and final USF2000 race of the weekend, Mann was not so lucky as to avoid damage; the 16-year-old got caught up at the start of the race and suffered some damage, calling him into the pits on Lap 4 and forcing him to retire early.
Kohlbecker, however, again avoided the wreckage at the start, working his way up to eighth in the field. The 19-year-old continued to fight his way up to P6 before surrendering that position to charging championship contender Myles Rowe, giving Kohlbecker a seventh place finish in Race 3. The 2021 Hyperco Rookie of the Year ended the season having placed in the top-ten in two-thirds of the races with three sixth place finishes marking his top results.
#33 Spike Kohlbecker // USF2000
“This racing year has flown by,” said Kohlbecker. “I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family. Even though I didn’t have the best season, I still had some amazing experiences. I want to thank the SKR team and my family for all the hard work we put in. I look forward to my future career. Lastly, I want to thank Turn 3 Motorsport for everything. They have been awesome!”
#34 Lucas Mann // USF2000
“I really enjoyed the weekend in Portland and my first set of USF2000 races,” said Mann. “I look forward to building on those experiences as the 2023 season begins. I learned so much about the track as the weekend progressed, especially the complexities in Turns 4 and 11 and the excitement of Turns 1 and 2. I’d like to thank the Turn 3 Motorsport team for all their hard work under the tent and for creating such a fun environment each day.”
Turn 3 Motorsport Team Owner
“It has been a successful second year with our USF2000 program building on what we had in 2022,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “Christian did an outstanding job for someone only in his second year of car racing and still being so young. To have him get his first pole position and back that up with two podiums has been fantastic. He still has so much to learn, but he has certainly showed he is a talent for the future.”
“I feel like Spike learned a lot this year, but unfortunately we never quite had the performance as a group to get him to the front,” continued Dempsey. “It was a pleasure to have Luke join us for the final round and gain valuable experience as his racing career starts. I feel like a full winter test program will give Luke the foundation to be a fighting competitor in the 2023 season. Our focus is now on next season and trying to build the strongest team possible to compete for the championship and win more races.”
With the 2022 season complete, Turn 3 Motorsport will shift their focus to off season testing in preparation for racing in 2023.
To stay up to date on Turn 3 Motorsport, follow the team on social media using the handle @turn3motorsport.
Photos: Gavin Baker Photo / Road to Indy
Photos: Dmytro Crawford