By Steve Wittich

The first official USF2000 practice session for the Mazda USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires rolled off of pit road at exactly 3:30pm, and was led by three rookie drivers from three different teams.

Pabst Racing rookie Calvin Ming led the session with a quick lap of 1 minute 24.202 seconds, and was followed closely by points leader Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) and Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey), who were both within two-tenths of a second of Ming.

Pabst Racing rookie Calvin Ming led the only USF2000 practice session at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Different teams utilized differing tire strategies with a few teams, like Newman Wachs Racing and Benik, opting to bolt on a fresh set of Cooper Tire slicks at the end of the session. Pabst Racing, Cape Motorsports, Team Pelfrey, and Exclusive Autosport, who’s drivers turned eight of the top ten  lap times all elected to run scuffed tires.

A red flag flew five minutes into the half-hour session when ArmsUp Motorsports rookie Bruna Tomaselli had an off on her out-lap. The Brazilian who made her USF2000 debut in the previous generation Van Diemen at St. Petersburg, has switched to the Tatuss USF-17 this weekend. Her No. 97 made contact with the tire barrier and suffered front wing, nose and left front suspension damage.

At that early juncture of the session, most drivers had turned only two laps, and the quickest of the 24 entered drivers was DE Force rookie Kory Enders.

The green flag to re-start the session was unfurled from the starters stand with 17 minutes left in the only official practice session before USF2000 Qualifying, and the track remained green until the checkered flag flew.

The teams and drivers did take part in two test sessions this morning, but there was no timing and scoring. TSO did hear that Benik rookie Toby Sowery was very impressive in his American debut. The 20 year-old took part in the opening round of the 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship this past weekend at Oulton Park, scoring a podium in the first of three races. Sowery, a resident of Cambridge, England scored five wins, and 10 podiums on the way to third in 2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship, a series that utilizes a Tatuus that is very similar to the USF-17.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda drivers are on track twice tomorrow (Friday, April 20, 2017). A 20-minute qualifying session begins at 8:45am and the first race of the weekend rolls off at 12:40pm.

USF2000 Practice Time Sheet No. 1. 

1 22 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 1:24.202
2 3 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports 1:24.328 0.1260
3 81 Kaylen Frederick Team Pelfrey 1:24.446 0.2435
4 80 Robert Megennis Team Pelfrey 1:24.495 0.2930
5 21 Rinus VeeKay Pabst Racing 1:24.642 0.4392
6 36 Dakota Dickerson Newman Wachs Racing 1:24.736 0.5331
7 82 Ayla Agren Team Pelfrey 1:24.765 0.5627
8 31 Toby Sowery Benik Kart 1:24.778 0.5754
9 90 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 1:24.796 0.5941
10 91 Luke Gabin Exclusive Autosport 1:24.837 0.6345
11 33 Bayley Mickler John Cummiskey Racing 1:24.874 0.6718
12 37 Andre Castro Newman Wachs Racing 1:24.885 0.6824
13 23 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 1:25.299 1.0965
14 11 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:25.318 1.1158
15 32 Darren Keane Benik Kart 1:25.734 1.5319
16 34 Kris Wright John Cummiskey Racing 1:25.769 1.5668
17 2 Ricky Donison Cape Motorsports 1:25.777 1.5744
18 7 Devin Wojcik ArmsUp Motorsports 1:25.806 1.6037
19 38 Flinn Lazier Newman Wachs Racing 1:25.839 1.6369
20 27 Colin Kaminsky Kaminsky Racing 1:26.134 1.9312
21 12 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:26.163 1.9603
22 92 Dev Gore Exclusive Autosport 1:26.319 2.1170
23 20 Chandler Horton RJB Motorsports 1:26.734 2.5320
24 97 Bruna Tomaselli ArmsUp Motorsports No Time