By Steve Wittich

Only five points separate the three drivers chasing Rasmus Lindh for the Indy Pro 2000 title, and one of them needs a statement weekend. The early advantage goes to Kyle Kirkwood, who’s pole-winning lap at 75.5151 seconds was 0.442 ahead of Lindh.

Tomorrow’s inside front row start will the 20-year-old’s fourth of the year and eighth in 24 career Road To Indy starts. It’s the first pole on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course for RP Motorsport.

The iconic Soul Red livery of Indy Pro 2000 pole winner Kyle Kirkwood on track at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Parker Thompson, who is currently second in the championship, will start directly behind Kirkwood. The veteran Canadian will be joined by his Abel Motorsports teammate Jacob Abel, who turned in his best qualifying effort of the year.

The ambient temperature when qualifying for the first of two Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend began was 81F. The track temperature was 114F. The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder was the final track activity of the day.

Thompson led early, but was quickly supplanted at the top of the timing screens by Kirkwood, who lap of 76.3338 seconds was the quickest at the half-way point of the 20-minute session. The rest of the top ten were: Thompson, Rodriguez, Robb, Lindh, Frost, Abel, Lastochkin, Denes and Enders.

It was at this time that most drivers came to pit road for adjustments. The 14 drivers and teams were following the Firestone Firehawk rubber for the first time this weekend.

With just over three minutes remaining in the session, Lindh was the first driver to go quicker, jumping to the second spot. Just a few seconds later, Kirkwood crossed the timing line, lowering the provisional pole time again.

Thompson was the next driver to grab the provisional pole, but that didn’t last long. Kirkwood lowered the provisional pole time one more time.

The timing screen was lit up with purple with drivers setting their fastest laps of the session in the final 60 seconds, but nobody could touch Kirkwood, whose last lap obliterated the field.

Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Qualifying #1 Results

1 28 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport Racing 1:15.515 –.—-
2 10 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing 1:15.957 0.4421
3 8 Parker Thompson Abel Motorsports 1:16.182 0.6672
4 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:16.427 0.9119
5 5 Ian Rodriguez RP Motorsport Racing 1:16.436 0.9212
6 68 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport 1:16.542 1.0267
7 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:16.566 1.0513
8 98 Phillippe Denes FatBoy Racing 1:16.679 1.1640
9 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport 1:17.225 1.7099
10 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:17.389 1.8738
11 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:17.461 1.9455
12 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.767 2.2517
13 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing/Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.896 2.3805
14 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing 1:21.177 5.6615

Indy Pro 2000 Race #1 gets the green flag at 5 pm on Saturday. Before that, the middle rung of the Road To Indy qualifies for Race #2 at 9:10 am.