TORONTO, Ont. — Last year, Parker Thompson put together an impressive Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda season, finishing second in points with a victory on the streets of Toronto.
The Alberta native returns to Ontario’s capital a year later, looking to repeat the dominating performance once again – though driving for a different race team than last season. Exclusive Autosport made the decision to enter USF2000 competition after taking home multiple F1600 Championships, pegging Thompson as one of their drivers.
With a pair of thirds in eight races this season, Thompson has been pleased with the team’s progress, noting they are the first team in the last decade to enter the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires and score podium finishes.
While the transition period has been smooth, he stated one of the biggest differences from the past two years to now is playing the role as a team leader.
“You have to lead car development, media, marketing – you have to be the lead, and get the engineers up to speed, too,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m working with Christophe Boisclair – he’s an amazing engineer, but it’s his first year in USF2000. He did great in F1600; they’ve won many championships. But now, you’re not only adding mechanical changes but aerodynamics. So that’s something we’re working together and getting used to.”
Thompson feels they are right on the cusp of breaking through for their first career victory but need to eliminate the small mistakes they have been making throughout race weekends.
“It’s not necessarily that we don’t have a fast car; it’s just we miss little things on tire strategy, whether it be qualifying or the races, that kind of leads to a fifth-place finish or just off the podium,” he said. “I think once we start learning how these weekends go and we get better at the strategy throughout the weekend, we will be right there.”
Returning to a place that he has won at before couldn’t come at a better time, based on where he sits in points. Currently sitting fourth in the standings, just over 100 points behind Oliver Askew, the focus has been solely put on getting to victory lane.
“There’s a lot more for me to gain than there is for me to lose,” the Canadian said. “So I’m not thinking about the championship at all, but coming out of here with two race wins for the Canadian fans. So that’s what we’re focused on at the end of the day. We’re going for wins no matter what, and hopefully, we have some good results at the end of the weekend.”
While you may say he is set to ‘go for broke,’ the advice he received from his coach Buddy Rice will be in the back of his mind throughout both events – risk versus reward.
“He always taught that before you make any decision on-track, two things that come up – is it worth the risk, or is it worth the reward? I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind when you’re racing, especially here on a street course,” he said. “Is it a couple of extra tenths worth a hit on the wall? You have to make that quick second decision. ”
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