DEForce Racing rookie Manuel Sulaiman lead the lone Indy Pro 2000 practice at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

If the lone practice session for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series is an indicator of how the race weekend could go, the championship could take another turn.

Three of the top five times in the practice, Manuel Sulaiman (first), Parker Thompson (second), and Kory Enders (fifth), were set by DEForce Racing drivers.

The top two drivers in the championship, Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing) and Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing), could only manage the sixth and eighth quickest times.

The first and only Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires practice session of the weekend, got the green flag right on time at 10:30 am.

The temperature when the session began was 62F, and the sky was still cloudy, but the fog and mist had disappeared.

The first driver to turn a lap at speed was points leader Robb.

Early in the session, the quickest driver was Artem Petrov, a Juncos Racing pilot who won at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July.

Times started to fall just before the halfway point of the half-hour session. The first driver to break the 79-second barrier was Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport) and the first driver to go under 78 seconds was Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing).

With a lap timed at 77.030 seconds, Sulaiman was the quickest driver after 15-minutes of action, followed by Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Frost, Petrov, and Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing) in the top five.

With 10-minutes remaining in the session, Sulaiman was the first driver in the 76-second range.

Other drivers started to set their quickest laps of the practice, but with five minutes remaining, nobody was within four-tenths of the 20-year-old DEForce Racing driver.

With just under three minutes remaining, the red and checkered flag came out simultaneously, for Bob Kaminsky, who was of the track in Turn 12.

The transponders of DEForce Racing’s Parker Thompson and Moisés de la Vara were not working in the first half of the session, but both drivers got those working later in the session, with Thompson setting the second-fastest lap and de la Vara, the seventh quickest lap.

The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 1:30 pm for the first of two Friday qualifying sessions.

Surgere Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio practice results

1 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:16.656 –.—- 17
2 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing 1:17.072 0.4163 9
3 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:17.260 0.6045 18
4 68 Danial Frost Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.325 0.6687 16
5 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:17.649 0.9927 16
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:17.734 1.0781 15
7 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:17.737 1.0809 9
8 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:17.912 1.2558 16
9 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing 1:18.052 1.3965 15
10 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:18.357 1.7008 18
11 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.378 1.7226 15
12 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:19.583 2.9271 7
13 57 Bob Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:22.087 5.4307 15
14 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing 1:26.147 9.4913 14