Jose Sierra and DEForce Racing used a last-second flyer to snag the first pole of the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. It’s the first pole for the Angleton, Texas-based team and 18-year-old Mexican driver.

Sierra’s quick lap of 1:12.549 is a new track record, besting a lap at 1:13.064 set by Matthew Brabham in 2012.

Jose Sierra (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

The provisional pole was swapped five times among three drivers over the last three minutes of the session, with Kaylen Frederick (Pabst Racing) and Kyle Kirkwood (Cape Motorsports) joining Sierra in the pole shootout.

The first official INDYCAR sanctioned qualifying session of the 2018 racing season began under bright blue skies on the shores of Tampa Bay.

The 25 drivers, representing 11 different teams quickly got to work on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course.

At the halfway point of the 20-minute session, the top five times were held by Jamie Caroline, Kaylen Frederick, Igor Fraga, Alex Baron and Rasmus Lindh.

Just after the clocked ticked past the half-way point of the session, the red flag came out for Russell McDonough, who stopped in the Turn 11 area of the track.

Kyle Kirkwood had just turned the quickest lap of the session, but due to the red flag, that was erased.

The green flag came back out with eight minutes remaining.

With three minutes left in the session, the top five were Alex Baron, Jamie Caroline, Kaylen Frederick, Kyle Kirkwood and Jose Sierra, but the timing screen was lit up purple with drivers going faster and faster.

The two drivers that caused the end of session red flag earlier this morning suffered utterly different fates.

The DEForce Racing crew was able to get the No. 11 of Kory Enders put back together, and the sophomore was able to qualify ninth.

The family-owned team of Sol.O Racing was not able to get No. 5 of Mathias Soler-Obel prepared in time for qualifying.

All four DEForce Racing drivers qualified within the top 12, with Zach Holden (fifth), Enders (ninth) and Colin Kaminsky (12th).

Exclusive Autosport rookie Igor Fraga ended up qualifying on the outside of the second row for his first USF2000 race.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda drivers are back on track for their second qualifying session of the year bright and early on Saturday at 7:30 am.

The first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products races rolls off at 10:15 am.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products Qualifying Session #1 timesheet

1 12 Jose Sierra DEForce Racing 1:12.549 –.—- 14
2 8 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports 1:12.613 0.0638 13
3 24 Kaylen Frederick Pabst Racing 1:12.687 0.1381 14
4 91 Igor Fraga Exclusive Autosport 1:12.842 0.2925 13
5 10 Zach Holden DEForce Racing 1:12.862 0.3132 14
6 19 Alex Baron Swan-RJB Motorsports 1:12.888 0.3392 13
7 28 Jamie Caroline BN Racing 1:12.892 0.3430 5
8 36 Darren Keane Newman Wachs Racing 1:12.965 0.4152 13
9 11 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:13.007 0.4573 14
10 22 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 1:13.049 0.4997 14
11 80 Julian Van der Watt Team Pelfrey 1:13.176 0.6269 14
12 27 Colin Kaminsky DEForce Racing 1:13.270 0.7205 14
13 82 Bruna Tomaselli Team Pelfrey 1:13.303 0.7533 14
14 21 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 1:13.386 0.8363 14
15 23 Rasmus Lindh Pabst Racing 1:13.421 0.8722 13
16 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:13.897 1.3477 14
17 30 Keith Donegan ArmsUp Motorsports 1:13.954 1.4042 14
18 81 Kyle Dupell Team Pelfrey 1:14.247 1.6975 14
19 51 Michael d’Orlando Team Benik 1:14.722 2.1727 13
20 37 David Osborne Newman Wachs Racing 1:14.772 2.2232 12
21 31 Sabre Cook Team Benik 1:15.467 2.9180 13
22 38 Oscar DeLuzuriaga Newman Wachs Racing 1:16.182 3.6329 12
23 93 Jayson Clunie Exclusive Autosport 1:16.585 4.0357 9
24 29 Russell McDonough BN Racing 1:17.706 5.1570 3

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