By Steve Wittich
Pabst Racing sophomore Eduardo Barrichello did everything he could in The Andersen Companies USF2000 Grand Prix Race #1 to close the gap in the chase for the scholarship.
The second-generation scored maximum points, winning from the pole, leading every lap, and turning the fastest lap during the 20 lap race. The
“I’m really happy to be here, and for the opportunity, I was given,” said Barrichello after getting out of his Pabst Racing No. 22. “The track was really dirty. We more than two seconds slower than qualifying, so it was really dirty. In the beginning, Christian (Rasmussen) was really close to me. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so I had to push a bit.
“In the end, I think he was struggling a bit. I saw him battling, and I just had to bring it home.
“I want to thank ALE Combustiveis (sponsor) for their support, Pabst Racing for everything, and I want to dedicate this win to Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing driver and Barrichello’s best friend). He couldn’t be here because he tested positive for COVID, but he’ll be back in St. Pete.”
Points leader and Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore put steady pressure on Barrichello during the first half of the race. In the second half of the race, the Dane began to drop back into the clutches of Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) and Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) later in the race. The Dane held onto second place – barely – and heads into the next race with a 33 point lead over Gold, who struggled to a 15th place finish. Barrichello was able to gain eight points and will start Sunday morning’s race 42 points out of the lead.
d’Orlando was the biggest mover in the top ten, standing on the podium for the fifth time during the 2020 season after starting the race from the inside of the fourth row.
Brooks spent most of the race in third, before falling behind d’Orlando after an unsuccessful attempt to get by Rasmussen for second place.
Rounding out the top five was Brooks Exclusive Autosport teammate, Prescott Campbell. The winner of last year, Lucas Oil School of Racing Formula Car Series, grabbed the best finish of his rookie season, making Exclusive Autosport the only team with two drivers in the top five.
“I’m stoked for P5,” exclaimed the 19-year-old after getting out of the car. “It’s my best career finish, and I have to be happy with that. I think the team and I have been really strong at this track. We’ve been able to apply what we learned in testing here a few weeks ago and bring it forward to this weekend, and we’ve been fast since the beginning of the event. I hope to continue with more of the same tomorrow!”
The Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pace car led the front row of Barichello and Rasmussen to the green flag after a single pace lap.
Pole-sitter Barrichello was able to get the jump with Rasmussen slotting in behind the Pabst Racing sophomore.
The 18 car field was able to complete the first lap cleanly, and the running order after the first lap was:
Barrichello, Rasmussen, Gold, Brooks, Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Matthew Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing), Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Nico Christodoulou (DEForce Racing) and Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development).
Just after starting Lap 3, d’Orlando could make an inside pass in Turn 1 to grab the fifth spot.
Brooks was able to gain back the third spot, going to the inside of the Cape Motorsports driver just after starting lap five.
After five laps of action, Barrichello’s lead over Rasmussen was 0.6 seconds. Brooks was 2.5 seconds adrift of Rasmussen in third. Gold held the fourth spot but was facing pressure from his teammate d’Orlando.
The best battle in the top 10 was between Sundaramoorthy and Shields, with the Pabst Racing sophomore putting immense pressure on the DEForce Racing sophomore.
On Lap 8, d’Orlando made an outside pass of Gold to move up to the fourth spot.
The next driver to get by Gold was Campbell, who moved back into the top five.
At the halfway point of the race, Barichello’s lead up front was 1.1 seconds. Brooks was able to claw one second into the gap to Rasmussen, moving quickly within 1.3 seconds of the championship leader.
On Lap 10, Gold lot another spot, this time it was to Shields. On the next lap, the championship contender lost seventh to Sundaramoorthy. He was immediately under pressure from Jack William Miller.
When second and third began lap 13, Brooks was only 0.6 seconds behind Rasmussen.
On the next lap, Brooks made a mistake, dropping to 3.3 seconds behind Rasmussen.
On Lap 14, Gold fell down the running order from ninth to 14th.
On Lap 15, Green came to pit road with damage to the front wing of the
With five laps remaining, Barrichello had a 1.7 second lead over Rasmussen. Brooks was the quickest car on the track, and the gap between second and third had dropped to 2.2 seconds.
Brooks was 1.7 seconds behind Rasmussen with three laps left but was facing pressure from d’Orlando for the final spot on the podium.
With two laps remaining, the gap between second and third was 0.7 seconds.
On that lap, Sundaramoorthy, who was battling Miller for seventh, fell down the running order to 12th.
Brooks and Rasmussen received the white flag separated by 0.08 seconds, with the No. 44 making an outside pass attempt into Turn 1. Rasmussen came out the other side of the corner first as Brooks found himself in the grass. He dropped down to the fourth place.
On the last lap, d’Orlando was right on the gearbox of Rasmussen. The Cape Motorsports driver pulled out to make the pass on the Rasmussen, coming up just 0.04 seconds of grabbing the second spot on the podium.
The Andersen Companies USF2000 Grand Prix Race #1 unofficial results.
|1||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||20 LAPS|
|2||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||-2.6788|
|3||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-2.724|
|4||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-13.5538|
|5||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||-14.3181|
|6||10||Cameron Shields||DEForce Racing||-14.5607|
|7||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-18.1345|
|8||23||Matt Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||-23.0161|
|9||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||-23.7798|
|10||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-28.5251|
|11||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||-29.7274|
|12||11||Nico Christodoulou||DEForce Racing||-33.4795|
|13||16||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||-33.5745|
|14||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||-34.3604|
|15||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||-38.3811|
|16||41||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-38.7186|
|17||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||– 1 LAP|
|18||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||– 1 LAP|
The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 9 am tomorrow for qualifying.