Christian Rasmussen on track in the JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 6. The sophomore won his 8th pole of the 2020 USF2000 Sunday at the New Jersey Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich – TSO Ladder

For the eighth time, this season and ninth time in his Road To Indy career, current points leader Christian Rasmussen will start a USF2000 from the pole.

An untimely red flag brought an early end to what was shaping up to be an exciting qualifying session for The Andersen Companies USF2000 Grand Prix Race #2.

The Jay Howard Driver Development crew could get the Danish driver on the track with just enough time to complete one extra lap on his fresh tires, which made the difference.

Aussie Cameron Shields put in his best qualifying result of the year and will start outside Rasmussen. Shields, who recently switched to DEForce Racing, has now qualified on the front three rows in five straight races.

Race #1 winner Eduardo Barrichello will start Sunday’s first race from the inside of row two. The third-place qualifying effort will be the tenth time the Brazilian has started from the front rows during the 2020 season.

Starting outside of Barrichello on row two will be Race #1 third-place finisher Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports).

Championship contender Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) will start fifth with fellow USF2000 sophomore Yuven Sundaramoorthy starting sixth. That matches the University Of Wisconsin student’s best qualifying result of the year.

Sunday at Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park got underway with the second Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying session.

The skies were overcast, and the ambient temperature was 66F.

Fifteen of the 18 entries took to the 2.25-mile, 12-turn road course when the green flag was shown from the timing stands. Cape Motorsports drivers Green and Dupell and newcomer Kent Vaccaro were the three drivers that remained on pit road.

The first driver to turn a lap at speed was Gold.

After drivers had turned four laps, the provisional pole sitter was DEForce Racing’s Cameron Shields, with a lap timed at 78.006 seconds.

Several cars came to pit road for adjustments before the halfway point of the 20-minute qualifying session.

After ten minutes of qualifying, Sheilds sat on the provisional pole with a lap 0.0748 seconds quicker than Gold. The rest of the top 10 were Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport), Matthew Round-Garrido, Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) and Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development).

Rasmussen was the first driver to go quicker on the sticker Cooper Tires and was the first driver to break the 78-second barrier.

First, Michael d’Orlando, and then Barrichello grabbed the provisional pole before Rasmussen went back to the top, going quicker on his second lap with the tires up to temperature.

The red flag came out, and the clock stopped with four and a half minutes remaining in the session.

The No. 8 of Dupell came to a stop between Turn 5 and Turn 6 with the left rear suspension folded over.

The damage resulted from contact with Miller, with the incident coming under review after the session.

Rasmussen, with a lap timed at 77.533 seconds, held the provisional pole. That lap was two-tenths of a second quicker than Shields. Barrichello, d’Orlando, Gold, Sundaramoorthy, Green, Round-Garrido, Miller, and Pierson.

Unfortunately, Dupell’s car dropped some fluid, and it took a little too long to get the mess cleaned up. With a Global MX-5 Cup race next on the schedule, the checkered flag was thrown on the session, with no more green flag time.

The Andersen Companies USF2000 Grand Prix unofficial qualifying #2 results

1 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.533 –.—-
2 10 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:17.734 0.2015
3 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:17.737 0.2046
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:17.899 0.3659
5 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:18.081 0.5481
6 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:18.152 0.6188
7 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:18.189 0.6559
8 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:18.281 0.7481
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:18.295 0.7622
10 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:18.364 0.8316
11 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.408 0.8755
12 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:18.530 0.9968
13 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:18.709 1.1765
14 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.734 1.2015
15 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.815 1.2819
16 11 Nico Christodoulou DEForce Racing 1:19.229 1.6960
17 41 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:19.678 2.1450
18 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:19.939 2.4067

The Andersen Companies USF2000 Grand Prix Race #2 is scheduled to get the green flag at noon.