Despite Hurricane Matthew, the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda competitors battled each other Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the chance to win the $25,000 championship grand prize.
Cameron Das of Brooklandville, Maryland, continued his winning streak during the first round of the F4 U.S. Championship weekend finale. Das captured his sixth consecutive checkered flag at Homestead-Miami, resulting in winning seven out of the last eight races. He leads the championship chase by 37 points over Konrad Czaczyk of Loxahatchee, Florida.
Das started on the pole after qualifying with the fastest lap time earlier in the day. Jim Goughary Jr. of Jupiter, Florida, joined Das in the front row. Czazcyk and Skylar Robinson of Augusta, Georgia, would start from the second row.
When the green flag dropped, Das and Goughary shot from the standing grid. Czaczyk would lose momentum off the start line, allowing Robinson to pass. Going into Turn 1, Robinson and Goughary split Das with Goughary risking passing high on the outside bank and Robinson challenging the inside.
Das’ car bogged down, allowing his competitors to pass. Goughary’s high-risk, high-reward move would land him in position one.
“Cameron has a lot to lose here this weekend,” Goughary said. “I knew if I passed him on the outside in Turn 1, he wouldn’t make it very difficult on me, so I did, and it worked.”
Goughary’s black No. 11 Primus Racing car started to lose momentum in Lap 3 due to mechanical issues and he fell back to eighth place. Czaczyk took the lead with Skylar Robinson of Augusta, Georgia, in second and Kyle Kirkwood of Jupiter, Florida, in third. Das would fall to sixth.
Das and Goughary were determined not let early race complications stop them from placing on the podium. Both would make miraculous comebacks.
Das was patient as he picked of his fellow F4 U.S. competitors one-by-one until he had Czazcyk back in his sights. Midway through the session, Das used Czazcyk’s draft to overtake him on the straight away. Czazcyk tried to catch Das, but the blue and white ZeroChroma JDX Racing F4 car would not succumb its first-place position for the remainder of the race.
“Konrad was pretty quick, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get rid of him,” Das said. “My biggest advantage over him was that I improved my run out of the hairpin. This allowed me to gradually pull away for the win.”
Goughary made his final move as the white flag was thrown. Drafting off Robinson, Goughary used lapped traffic as a pick to pass Robinson for the final podium position.
Kirkwood, who finished the race fifth, combated mechanical issues throughout the race, which threw off his pace. He will start on the grid in 10 place for Race 2 on Sunday.
Series newcomers, Allan Miller of Indianapolis, Indiana, piloting No. 51 for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports and Brian Fowler of Cape Coral, Florida, driving for Momentum Motorsports, both experienced their first times behind the wheel of an F4 U.S. car Saturday. After Hurricane Matthew caused a cancelation of the track test day and condensed the race schedule down to permit for only one 40-minute practice session, the pair received limited seat-time before their first showing. Miller finished 12th and Fowler finished 14th.
Raphael Foricer of Montreal did not finish the race due to mechanical complications.
The F4 U.S. competitors return to Homestead-Miami Sunday for the final two races of the season. Das, Czaczyk, Kirkwood and Goughary are still mathematically eligible for the championship points’ podium.