By Patrick Stephan
For the sixth straight USF2000 race, and seventh time in his rookie season, Kyle Kirkwood stood on the top step of the podium. The Cape Motorsports rookie now holds an incredible 131 point lead over Kaylen Frederick in the chase for the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship.
Kirkwood didn’t have it easy though, smartly avoiding a Lap 1, Turn 3 pile-up and making a daring pass over Igor Fraga after an entertaining battle.
“I got by a couple of cars at the start but then everyone bunched up on the inside and I went on the outside, down the clean line,” explained Kirkwood. “I came out first with Igor alongside and we fought the whole way down the straight. We were really close. He caught me off guard when he got by – I didn’t think he would try to pass there but it was a perfectly executed move, so kudos to him. It was tough to get back around. We locked up in Turn Three every lap and I thought I was going to get a piece of the tire wall. I think I caught him off guard in Turn One. I wasn’t thinking about making a pass until the last moment and it worked perfectly.”
Fraga, who defended brilliantly against Kirkwood for 11 laps before being surprised by a Turn 1 pass, brought his No. 91 Exclusive Autosport machine home in second, his second podium of the season. The Brazilain who was born in Japan is now 3rd in the USF2000 series standing.
“Today was so fun, but it was very nerve-wracking at the same time,” said Fraga. “You have so much going on, passing so close to the walls, but at the same time, you have to watch in your mirrors. You have to focus as much as you can. I didn’t think Kyle would be able to pass me but I left the door open just a bit and he was able to dive in. It was unexpected but this will add to my experience. We’ve moved up race by race and to lead today is a good sign. Hopefully, there will be many more moments like this. I am learning more every day. My dream is to be a top driver so it’s great to prove that I can fight and I can be up there.”
Pabst Racing rookie Rasmus Lindh started third and finished third, but that doesn’t adequetly describe the Swede’s day. Lindh dropped to 11th in the Lap 1, Turn 3 incident, but was able to drive his way back up to the final spot on the podium.
The field went 4-wide down the front straight for several rows, almost looked like a parade lap for a World of Outlaws race, but everyone cleanly was cleanly through this time.
Can’t say the same thing about Turn 3, when 7 cars got together and several wound up in the tire barrier.
The mess started when pole sitter Kaylen Frederick locked up his brakes from the center lane. While he was sliding past the entry to the corner, he forced Rasmus Lindh wide and he was blocked by the tire barriers. Keith Donegan was too quick down the inside and straight-lined into the tire-barriers, where he was hit by Frederick, who looked like he would make the corner (but just).
As they were sliding wide, we have contact on the inside line and I believe it was Dakota Dickerson spinning after contact with (not sure). He had come down across someone who was at his right rear tire next to the wall as everyone was looking through brake smoke for a path through the melee.
With the outside line blocked and people spinning on the inside line, a host of other cars got stopped including Keane, Kaminsky, Enders, Sierra, McDonough, and Van der Watt. Many of those cars would eventually get going again, but McDonough, Donegan, and Kaminsky would have too much damage to continue.
Order on Lap 4 under yellow – Kirkwood, Fraga, Frost, Tomaselli, Dupell, DeLuzuriaga, Dickerson, Lindh, Keane, Enders, Frederick, Ming, Kohl, Donegan, Kaminsky, McDonough, Peichel (DNS)
Restart on Lap 5 and Fraga takes the lead with an inside pass at Turn 3 as he slipped by Kyle Kirkwood.
When they came back around on Lap 6, Kirkwood tries to make it back to the lead with an outside pass. They ran side by side through Turn 3 before Kirkwood got back in line for Turn 4.
The duo would continue going at it, with Kirkwood trying several more times in Turn 3, and on Lap 10, he nearly got it done, but locked the tires just past the apex and Fraga was able to get the spot back.
On Lap 12, Kirkwood settled back and didn’t try this time. Lap 13 and he almost tried a little too hard and nearly missed the tires in Turn 3.
Lap 15 and Kaylen Frederick tries to go inside of Danial Frost and totally slides through the corner and nearly hit his teammate Rasmus Lindh who was taking the normal line a full position ahead of this issue.
Lap 17 and we have Darren Keane is sitting in Turn 8. Eventually, he would get the car going and we only had a local yellow.
About this time up front, Kyle Kirkwood finally gets around Igor Fraga for the lead.
Lap 19 and the order is now Kirkwood, Fraga, Lindh, Frost, Van der Watt, Dickerson, Tomaselli, Sierra, Enders, Dupell, Frederick, DeLuzuriaga – the final car on the lead lap. Then its Ming, Keane – 2 laps and Kohl – 3laps. McDonough, Donegan, Kaminsky, and Peichel are out.
Lap 23/24 and we get another mess in Turn 3 and also over at Turn 4 and 5. Van der Watt was shown sitting inside Turn 3 on timing and scoring and further up we’ve got Tomaselli and Enders also showing as stopped on the track. We didn’t get a replay other than Tomaselli simply locking the brakes and then looping it when she tried to let off the brakes and make the corner. Not sure what happened other than that!
And when the timing and scoring corrected at the end of the race, Van der Watt was back up in 5th. We’ve had timing and scoring issues all weekend, so really not sure what happened but believe the final results are now corrected. For sure Tomaselli spun!! We also had debris at Turns 4 and 5 – heck, maybe a transponder!
Back up front the fifth starting Kirkwood holds on and takes a 1.1127 win over Fraga, Lindh, Frost and Van Der Watt. Some of the races biggest movers were Frost going from 12th to 4th, Fraga from 6th to 2nd. Van der Watt picked up 5th from 9th. From way back, it was Sierra starting 18th and finishing 7th, and DeLuzuriaga from 17th to 10th.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products Race #2 Unofficial Results
|5||80||Julian Van der Watt||12.5651|
|11||21||Calvin Ming||-1 Lap|
|12||36||Darren Keane||-1 Lap|
|13||82||Bruna Tomaselli||-2 laps|
|14||11||Kory Enders||-2 laps|
|15||22||Lucas Kohl||-2 laps|
|16||29||Russell McDonough||-24 laps|
|17||28||Keith Donegan||-25 laps|
|18||27||Colin Kaminsky||-25 laps|
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series is back on track for testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for testing next week in preparation for their race weekend on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course from July 27th – 29th.
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