ALTON, Va. – In what came down to five cars going for the lead on the last lap at VIR, Steve Bamford drafted past Brandon Newey heading to turn 14 and took his first F1600 Championship Series victory in round six of the 2014 season.
Bamford was in the lead at various points throughout the race looking strong, but it went down to the wire with Saturday’s winner Newey narrowly missing a weekend sweep. Nikita Lastochkin was third in a Mygale/Honda podium sweep.
As the race developed a six-car lead train broke away from the field battling back and forth for the lead throughout the 12-lap all-green flag event. But as the laps wound down the race craft went up, and Bamford, with a lot of experience, was never outside of the top three, timing the last lap to near perfection and denying Newey a weekend sweep for Chastain Motorsports.
“Brandon got by me in the esses on the last lap but I had a great launch out of Oak Tree,” said Bamford, driving the No. 07 for Rice Race Prep. “I had a push from behind in Nikita. I figured Brandon was going to get by me in the esses on the last lap and I wanted to be in second on the back straight.
More impressively, Bamford, immediately following victory circle celebrations, will be the only driver doing double-duty, and strapping into his F2000 car for another 14 laps at VIR.
Also a Masters Class veteran, Bamford notched that win in the race as well, and combined with Jim Goughary’s two wins, makes it three overall Masters Class winners on the season in six races in a field full of the latest fast and daring aspiring drivers.
Newey, in the No. 29 for Chastain Motorsports, couldn’t make it two victories in two-days in his one-off F1600 return for the Indiana-based team after starting from the pole.
Nikita Lastochkin completed the podium in the No. 80 Team Pelfrey Mygale/Honda, commenting he wanted to play it safe on the back stretch and not force the issue on the last lap.
After a near-win on Saturday, Ayla Agren was fourth ahead of her Pelfrey teammates Garth Rickards and Augie Lerch in fifth and sixth.
Goughary led the Championship points coming into VIR, but had a dismal weekend losing his points lead. A lack of drafting partners meant poor qualifying performances for the two-race winner. The No. 7 lost the points lead on Saturday after contact while fighting for third and finished behind the lead pack in seventh, a notable recovery after being shuffled all the way back to 14th in the opening laps.
“We started in the back, and with this field, it’s a long way to the front,” Goughary said.
Sam Chastain followed in eighth, and was in the lead pack for most of the race before an apparent issue put him back – while Art Foster trailed in ninth and the Spectrum of Jack Mitchell, Jr. completed the top 10 for Exclusive Autosport