Alex Baron couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
The 18-year-old Frenchman — who won the 2012 French F4 Championship — qualified in pole position at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and drove to a 0.019-second victory in his USF2000 debut. Neil Alberico finished runner-up with Wyatt Gooden earning the final spot on the podium in Round 11.
Garett Grist finished fourth with Michael Epps rounding out the top-five. Championship leader Scott Hargrove challenged Baron early but was forced to pit for a new nose cone after contact. Despite the setback he drove from 20th to 11th. Florian Latorre was the hard charger driving from 16th to seventh.
In Round 12, Hargrove bounced back and earned the victory — his fourth of the season. Grist was second with Baron completing the podium, passing Alberico on the last lap. Daniel Burkett rounded out the top-five. Henrik Furuseth was the hard charger driving from 18th to 11th. Ryan Verra won both National Class races.
Hargrove holds a 44-point lead in the championship hunt with two races remaining. USF2000 drivers will return to action on Oct. 5-6 at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas.