After a forgettable weekend in Wisconsin, Exclusive Autosport rookie Danial Frost needed a bounce-back weekend. The 17-year-old made that happen with an aggressive first lap, first turn move to get onto the top step of the podium and lead all 25 laps on the way to his second win of the season.
It’s the first Indy Pro 2000 win for Exclusive Autosport, the only Canadian team in the race.
Points leader Rasmus Lindh, started second and finished second, but it wasn’t as easy as the box score made it appear.
Parker Thompson who was bitten by an aggressive qualifying strategy and red flag put in a lunch pail effort to grab his 29th career Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium.
The lone Indy Pro 2000 session on Saturday is the first Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products which is scheduled to get the green flag at 9:25 am.
The first race of the weekend, the Indy Pro 2000 Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products, got underway at 9:25 am. The ambient temperature was 72F, and the track temperature was 87F.
Pole sitter Kirkwood got a great jump with Lindh matching him. But it was Frost, from his inside second row starting spot, that got a better jump; making an aggressive three-wide inside move and grabbing the lead as they exited Turn 1.
Kirkwood and Lindh made the long run down Lakeshore Drive side-by-side with both drivers smoking the tires under braking. The pole-sitter could not get it slowed down enough and Lindh was able to get underneath Kirkwood who kept it off the tire barriers.
Kirkwood immediately came under pressure from his RP Motorsport teammate Rodriguez, and the two drivers made contact in Turn 5. Kirkwood’s Soul Red No. 28 he began to fall through the field after suffering wing damage.
At the end of the first lap, the running order was Frost, Lindh, Kirkwood, Ian Rodriguez, Robb, Nikita Lastochkin, Antonio Serravalle, Moisés de la Vara, Phillippe Denes, Kory Enders, Charles Finelli, and Jacob Abel.
Kirkwood was forced to pit road for repairs and lost a lap while the RP Motorsport repaired his damaged PM-18.
The 25 lap race settled in for the next five laps before the first caution came out when DEForce Racing veteran Moisés de la Vara made significant contact in Turn 11. The Mexican was able to get out of his No. 6 under his own power.
During the clean-up for de la Vara’s incident, race control announced that Rodriguez was being penalized for avoidable contact and being sent to the rear of the field. Due to attrition, the Guatemalan was able to move his way back through the field for a solid fifth-place finish, his third straight top five.
The green flag came back out as Frost started his ninth lap. Behind the leaders, Finelli looped his No. 83 as he got back to the gas. A disaster was avoided as Rodriguez barely avoided t-boning the No. 83 Fatboy Racing! machine.
On Lap 12, Robb surprised his teammate, braking deeper than Lindh in Turn 3 and moving to the second step of the podium. Behind that battle, Thompson was able to move past Lastochkin for fifth.
Lindh immediately began putting immense pressure on his teammate, and the next lap returned the favor in Turn 3.
On the next lap, Robb was pushing too hard and made contact with the concrete wall in Turn 6. The Juncos Racing veteran was forced to pit road and retired from the race.
On Lap 15, Thompson moved to the podium, getting by fellow Canadian Serravalle for the final spot on the podium
The full course yellow came out for the second time when Finelli ended up in the Turn 8 tire barriers. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got him pointed in the correct direction, and the green flag came back out with five laps remaining.
Frost got a great jump on Lindh, but the Swede was able to put pressure on the Exclusive Autosport rookie, getting beside him in the Turn 3 braking zone, but the Singapore driver was able to hold on to the lead for the final three laps, crossing under the checkered flag 0.4500 seconds ahead of Lindh.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products Indy Pro 2000 Race #1 – Unofficial Results
|1||68||Danial Frost||Exclusive Autosport||25 LAPS|
|2||10||Rasmus Lindh||Juncos Racing||-0.45|
|3||8||Parker Thompson||Abel Motorsports||-1.7381|
|4||11||Antonio Serravalle||Pserra Racing/Jay Howard Driver Development||-3.0377|
|5||5||Ian Rodriguez||RP Motorsport Racing||-6.448|
|6||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||-6.7097|
|7||7||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||-11.0195|
|8||28||Kyle Kirkwood||RP Motorsport Racing||-1 LAP|
|9||98||Phillippe Denes||FatBoy Racing||-5 LAPS|
|10||90||Nikita Lastochkin||Exclusive Autosport||-10 LAPS|
|11||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||-11 LAPS|
|12||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||-11 LAPS|
|13||6||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||-21 LAPS|
That’s the lone Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires session of the day, the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will be back on track at 9:55 am on Sunday.