By Meredith Kaplan Burns, Special to the Independent
Laguna Beach resident Michael Lewis sped into the 2010 race season with a quick time at Tucson Raceway Park on Friday, Jan. 1, for the track’s special USAC Ford Focus event.
Lewis and his Western Speed Ford Focus team started off strong on the 3/8-mile paved oval as he and his teammate Cody Gerhardt qualified first and second respectively.
“Kevin Gerhardt had both of our cars dialed in perfectly for our qualifying effort and all I had to do was hit my marks and our two cars ended up on top of the chart for qualifying,” Lewis said.
USAC officials and the track promoter agreed to change the original program from a 30-lap feature event to two, 20-lap features. In the first 20-lap feature, Lewis started sixth and got to the front quickly, winning the event.
For the second 20-lap feature, Lewis again started sixth and after a frantic first few laps the field settled down and he fell in behind teammate Gerhardt in third place.
In the next few weeks, Lewis will move to Europe in preparation to race full time in the Formula BMW Europe series. Team tests start in March. Drivers will be able to test two days at every track they will visit during the season, Lewis explained. “I am excited about this opportunity to race in Europe not only for myself but for the sponsor team that will be coming on board.”
Lewis will stay busy on and off the track as he will continue his freshman year online with California State University, Fullerton. At the conclusion of the Formula BMW Europe season in September, Lewis will return home to finish the remaining races on the USAC California Pavement Ford Focus schedule.