Johnston and Nunez Represent IMSA at Final Round of Team USA Scholarship Interviews
ATLANTA, August 29, 2012 -- International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) drivers Sean Johnston and Tristan Nunez have been impressing fans of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series all year, but they had the chance to share their talent with a new audience this week as finalists in the prestigious Team USA Scholarship two-day shootout.
The list of drivers who have won Team USA Scholarships over the past decade is peppered with names from the top ranks of both open-wheel and sports car racing. Johnston and Nunez participated in an initial round of interviews at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early August, and both were chosen to advance to the final round of competition.
“From getting to know my fellow competitors to talking with the judges, mentors, and supporters of the Team USA Scholarship, I learned a lot about professional motorsport and had a ton of fun both outside the car and inside the car," Johnston said. "The whole process of the Team USA Scholarship has been an incredible experience and I know I'm a more well-rounded driver as a result of my participation. I did the best job I could, and am proud of my performance and pace with respect to the other competitors."
Johnston, of Mt. Shasta, Calif., is in his rookie season of GT3 Cup and enjoying tremendous success, including his recent flag-to-flag double-header sweep at Road America. Johnston’s record now includes four poles and four wins.
Nunez has also demonstrated remarkable promise in Cooper Tires Prototype Lites with eight wins and nine poles in the 2012 season. At only 16 years old, the Boca Raton, Fla. native claimed the title of youngest driver to win a Prototype Lites race and now holds several race records within the development series.
"The past two days getting to compete in the final round for the Team USA scholarship has been awesome," Nunez said. "The CXC Simulators were incredible! This was by far my favorite part of the competition and I also really enjoyed getting to spend time with the judging panel including Connor De Phillippi and Patrick Long. The seminar by Dr. Jacques Dallaire was a nice bonus and I learned so much from him! Many thanks to Jeremy Shaw for making it all possible."
Both drivers are the current points leaders in their respective series.
Johnston and Nunez represent the IMSA Development Series, which is part of the ladder series that leads to the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Steven Sewell, IMSA Development Series director, is proud to have Johnston and Nunez carry the flag for IMSA in the Team USA Scholarship interview process.
“IMSA is very pleased to be represented by Tristan and Sean in the final round of evaluation for the 2012 Team USA,” said Sewell. “Their combined attitude and accomplishments in their respective series this year exemplifies everything we believe our system of driver development has to offer. These drivers have bright racing futures ahead of them and to have their efforts recognized at this level is extremely gratifying.”
Both phases of the shootout were held in California on August 27 and 28. Chas Lawrence’s Seat Time, LLC’s facility in Santa Monica hosted finalists on day one for the opportunity to drive state-of-the-art simulators. Dr. Jacques Dallaire, founder of Performance Prime, also conducted a seminar on mental preparation.
Day two of the shootout brought drivers to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. All eight finalists drove FR1600 open-wheel cars featuring carbon fiber chassis and full Motec on-board data systems provided by Allen Berg Racing Schools to show off their on-track skills.
"The standard among the youngsters who attended our interview process was extremely high,” said motorsport writer and broadcaster Jeremy Shaw, who founded the Team USA Scholarship in 1990. “We have already had to make some tough decisions, and making the final selections from this group is going to even more difficult."
For more information on the Team USA Scholarship, visit www.TeamUSAScholarship.org.
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