Race #1 report

After five straight wins by Oliver Askew, it was Pabst Racing rookie Rinus VeeKay who led 11 laps on the way to his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda victory. Askew, the pilot of the Mazda sponsored Soul Red machine, and the current championship leader ran into trouble for the first time this season.

“It feels so great to finally win,” exclaimed winner VeeKay.  “When I was coming up the hill to the finish, I was just screaming on the radio – my engineer must have pain in his ears! I was so happy for me and for the team, to finally get a win and for it to be here, at their home race.

“I learned to be very patient in this race. I was behind Oliver (Askew) and David (Malukas) early and sometimes when I made a move, it worked and sometimes I made a little mistake. But I learned from it. It was a great battle – we touched wheels but it was very fair, a real fight like you want to have. I love this track, it reminds me of Spa, with the long straights with very technical corners. It really brings the driving part of you out. I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

VeeKay’s victory (and pole for Race #2), combined with Askew’s problems, has allowed the 16 year-old to close within 33 points of the points leader.

After a surprise pole, David Malukas led his first three MRTI laps, and was able to bring his No. 79 machine home in second spot. This was only the third USF2000 race for the 16 year-old karting standout, who is also taking part in a full season of the ADAC Formul 4 (German Formula 4) Championship. Malukas plans to contest the remainder of the 2017 USF2000 season, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his European plans.

Pabst Racing sophomore Lucas Kohl rounded out the podium, besting his best previous USF2000 finish of sixth last year on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kohl told TSO that his first USF2000 podium was better late than never, and that the series is so competitive and that he’s taken his time getting comfortable and this was the weekend that he put everything together.

Calvin Ming brought his Pabst Racing No. 22 home in the fourth spot, meaning the Oconomowoc, Wisc. team bagged three of the top four spots, bringing plenty of smiles to the team that considers Road America it’s home track.

Team founder Augie Pabst, Jr has extensive experience at Road America winning two SCCA US Road Racing Championship races in 1963 and 1964. Current team principal Augie Pabst, III, raced at Road America in Sports Car Club of America events and was also a winner at Road America in a Shelby Can-Am car. The team-wide success has not just been limited to team ownership. Engineer and driver coach Tonis Kasemits has one Atlantic Series win to go along with two additional podiums. The Estonian born Kasemits has also has made one IndyCar and two USF2000 starts at Road America.

Rinus VeeKay, and his Pabst Racing family celebrate a win at their home track of Road America (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Both VeeKay and Kohl explained to TSO that Kasemits with his many laps around the 14-Turn, 4.014-mile Road America road course, has been a huge help in giving them both tips to extract those last few tenths-of-a-second from the historic circuit.

Both drivers also credit Kohl’s mentor Roberto Moreno for helping them get quicker.

Points leader Askew got the jump on pole sitter, and was able to hold off the karting stand-out until Turn 5, when the Mazda powered No. 79 BN Racing Tatuus of Malukas was able to get back around the Rising Star Racing sponsored driver.

The top ten at the end of the first lap were: Malukas, Askew, VeeKay, Lucas Kohl, Moisés de la Vara, Parker Thompson, Robert Megennis, Kaylen Frederick, Devin Wojcik, and Colin Kaminsky.

On Lap 2, VeeKay led the first of his race high 11-laps, but on the next lap the Dutch driver made a mistake, letting Malukas back by him and falling to fourth.

Askew immediately put the pressure on the Malukas, who made a few questionable defensive moves that drew a warning from Race Control. The Soul Red No. 3 of Askew had a great run on Malukas and attempted to go around the outside in Canada Corner. Askew was not able to complete the pass, and fell back to fourth.

Rinus VeeKay leads David Malukas and Oliver Askew early in the first USF2000 race of the weekend at Road America (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

At the start of Lap 5, the top five were: Malukas, VeeKay Kohl, Askew and Thompson. Later that lap, VeeKay was able to slipstream his way back to the lead, and was able to pull out to a half-second lead.

On the same lap, Moisés de la Vara went wide and through the gravel trap at the exit of Turn 14, the DEForce Racing rookie was running in sixth place, and fell back to

Over the next two laps, VeeKay was able to pull out a slight gap over Maluskas. Behind the leader, Askew began to move forward again, passing Kohl for third on Lap 7 and Maluskas for second on the next lap.

After a hectic first half of the race, things settled down at the front of the field, but Ming, Megennis, Frederick, and Kaminsky were having a  battle for sixth through ninth place.

Ming, who started the race in the 15th after a disappointing qualifying effort, was able to finish the race in fourth. The 11 spots gained by the driver from Guyana, was the most of any driver in the field.

It was on Lap 10 that Askew was forced to pit road. The two drivers that were right behind Askew at the time, Malukas and Kohl, told TSO that Askew got sideways through Canada Corner and both were able to get past him coming up the hill to Billy Mitchell Bend (Turn 13). TSO was able to confirm with Cape Motorsports that the No. 3 lost a camber shim.

The team was able to make repairs, but Askew lost a lap and finished the race in a disappointing 17th place, his worst result so far in 2017. One slight consolation for the 20 year-old was that he was able to set the quickest lap of the race, collecting the single bonus point that goes with that.

With three laps to go, VeeKay had built his lead to 3.6 seconds over Malukas, while Kohl was another few seconds behind. Behind the spread out top 3, there were some fantastic battles. Ming was pressuring Thompson for fourth, and Frederick, Meggenis, Kaminsky, and Wojick were running together looking for the sixth spot.

Frederick after having two offs and and falling down to 15th, was able to recover to finish sixth.  Wojick, in eighth, and Kaminsky in ninth, both had their best results of the year.

The top five in points after the race are:

1 – Oliver Askew 193

2 – Rinus VeeKay (-34)

3 – Kaylen Frederick (-68)

4 – Parker Thompson (-76)

5 – Robert Megennis (-97)

Results of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda USF2000 Race #1

1 21 Rinus VeeKay Pabst Racing 14 laps
2 79 David Malukas BN Racing 5.9845
3 23 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 7.3351
4 22 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 9.3385
5 90 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 11.5644
6 81 Kaylen Frederick Team Pelfrey 12.5771
7 80 Robert Megennis Team Pelfrey 15.2694
8 7 Devin Wojcik ArmsUp Motorsports 16.8060
9 27 Colin Kaminsky John Cummiskey Racing 17.0293
10 36 Darren Keane Newman Wachs Racing 18.6206
11 82 Jacob Loomis Team Pelfrey 22.3908
12 92 Dev Gore Exclusive Autosport 30.4820
13 12 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 34.3241
14 93 Jayson Clunie Exclusive Autosport 43.0954
15 2 Ricky Donison Cape Motorsports 22.3536
16 11 Kory Enders DEForce Racing – 1 LAP
17 3 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports – 1 LAP
18 20 Chandler Horton RJB Motorsports – 1 LAP
19 97 Bruna Tomaselli ArmsUp Motorsports – 2 LAPS

Race #2 qualifying

The USF2000 teams only had four hours between the end of the first race of the weekend and their second qualifying session of the day. That time period wasn’t long enough to cool down Rinus VeeKay and Pabst Racing, who continued their hot streak by taking the pole for the second USF2000 race of the weekend.

Rinus VeeKay scored his first pole of his Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire career (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

VeeKay’s quickest lap clocked in at 2 minutes,10.640 seconds, and just pipped the qualifying track record of 2 minutes,10.762 seconds that was set by current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Spencer Pigot in 2011. This is the first pole of the year for the second-generation driver from Hoofddorp, in the Netherlands.

Championship leader Oliver Askew will start on the outside of the front row for the second straight race. Race #1 pole-sitter Malukas will start his fourth career USF2000 race on the inside of the second row, and will joined on that row by veteran Canadian USF2000 competitor Parker Thompson.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda qualifying for race #2

1 21 Rinus VeeKay Pabst Racing 2:10.640 –.—-
2 3 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports 2:10.818 0.1779
3 79 David Malukas BN Racing 2:10.973 0.3326
4 90 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 2:11.039 0.3989
5 22 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 2:11.193 0.5525
6 81 Kaylen Frederick Team Pelfrey 2:11.272 0.6314
7 23 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 2:11.317 0.6766
8 80 Robert Megennis Team Pelfrey 2:11.330 0.6902
9 11 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 2:11.556 0.9154
10 82 Jacob Loomis Team Pelfrey 2:11.861 1.2210
11 36 Darren Keane Newman Wachs Racing 2:11.879 1.2386
12 27 Colin Kaminsky John Cummiskey Racing 2:11.952 1.3123
13 12 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 2:12.112 1.4716
14 2 Ricky Donison Cape Motorsports 2:12.410 1.7700
15 92 Dev Gore Exclusive Autosport 2:12.648 2.0079
16 97 Bruna Tomaselli ArmsUp Motorsports 2:12.745 2.1050
17 7 Devin Wojcik ArmsUp Motorsports 2:12.959 2.3186
18 93 Jayson Clunie Exclusive Autosport 2:13.838 3.1977
19 20 Chandler Horton RJB Motorsports 2:15.197 4.5573

The final USF2000 race of the weekend rolls off on Saturday at 1:10pm.