Reece EverardAlton, VA - It was F2000 Championship Series newcomer Reece Everard at the top of the time sheets in Free Practice 1 on Thursday afternoon at the 2017 season opening weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. Everard, driving the No. 61, only put in four laps but flew to first position in the 30-minute session with a lap of 1:54.578.

Nick Palacio, in the No. 25 entry, was second quick after a double podium result at VIR to close out the 2016 F2000 season last October.

Those two were followed by a trio of Mazda-powered Van Diemens, with Steve Jenks, Al Guibord and John McCusker completing the top five ahead of the opening weekend of the 14-race, seven-event 2017 Championship calendar.

"Each year we have been in the series we have moved a few places forward in the standings. I want this to be the year we are in the mix for the podium throughout the year," said Jenks, who drives the No. 68 entry. "We bought a new car, invested in testing, I've been working out and Tumenas Motorsports has put in the car preparation, so we are all in this year."

Conditions at the 17-turn circuit were mixed, with some cloud cover and temperatures approaching 80 degrees.

Connor Gawry was sixth on the practice time sheets, and said the biggest challenge would be shaking the winter rust off, as he has his sets sight on improving over a strong 2016 debut in F2000 competition.

"We have come a long way in understanding the car's setup with good results from last year and we are planning on continuing that momentum in 2017," Gawry commented.

Seventh on the time sheets was Matt McDonough, in the cockpit of the No. 69 in place of Paul Farmer. McDonough last raced at Watkins Glen in 2016, where he grabbed a victory in the Radon chassis on the last lap of the race as the skies opened.

Davy D'Addario was eighth quickest at 1:56.957 despite never having turned a lap at VIR.

"My biggest challenge will be learning the track," D'Addario commented. "We've never run at VIR. I know much of the field is very familiar with the track so I'll have to be on a quick learning program during the practice sessions. I need to be up to speed when it's time to qualify. I've got a bunch of laps in iRacing, but - as good as simulations like that are - there's always some difference from the real thing."

Rounding out the top ten were Brandon Dixon and Dan Denison, respectively.

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