The technicians for Cooper Tire busy at work during Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires spring training at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

A pair of rookies, Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), were the first two drivers to turn laps during the first Indy Pro 2000 test session that were below 78-seconds.

Brichachek’s quick lap, his sixth of 16 in the session, was timed at 77.7737 seconds, only 0.09 seconds ahead of Gold.

Series returnees Colin Kaminsky, Hunter McElrea, and Manuel Sulaiman rounded out the top five.

Fourteen of the 17 drivers were within one second of the top spot.

After a reasonably clean USF2000 session to begin the test, their big brothers, the Indy Pro 2000 series, had a more auspicious start to spring training with a red flag coming out only two minutes into the one-hour session. The red was for the No. 20 Legacy Autosport PM-18 of Flinn Lazier, which came to a halt at the exit of Charlotte’s Web (Turn 5 & 6).

Most drivers were on their out-laps when the session was stopped, and no one had turned a lap at speed.

The green flag was shown to the field with 47 of the 60 minutes remaining.

The second red flag of the session, with 40 minutes remaining in the session, was once again for the No. 20 of Lazier, which came to a stop in Turn 10. Lazier had completed four laps at that point of the session.

With a lap time at 79.0242 seconds, Petrov was the quickest driver when the red was shown, but only 10 of the 17 drivers had been on track. The Exclusive Autosport veteran was followed in the top five by his teammate Eves, along with Enzo Fittipaldi (RP Motorsport), Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), and Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport).

The second red was shorter than the first, with the rack reopening for testing with 35-minutes remaining.

The first driver to improve on Petrov’s early quickest lap and turn a sub-79-second lap was fellow veteran McElrea, who was quickly joined in the 78-second bracket by Fittipaldi.

At just before the session’s halfway point, Gold lowered the quick lap time to 78.2703 seconds, which was faster than the previous race lap record, but still just under two seconds off the overall track record.

Gold was joined in the top five at the halfway point of the session by McElrea, Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), Fittipaldi, and Petrov.

Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing), and Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing) had yet to turn a lap.

With fifteen minutes remaining in the first Indy Pro 2000 session, the third red flag was shown from the starter’s stand. This time, it was for the No. 51 Abel Motorsports machine of Jacob Abel, who quickly able to get rolling again.

Before the red flag came out, Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Brichacek was the first to put in a sub-78-second lap. Gold held down the second spot and was joined in the top five by Simpson, Petrov, and McElrea.

The green flag came back out with 12 minutes remaining, and the first driver to get his Cooper Tires into the correct operating temperature was James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport), who was the first driver to improve their lap time.

With just under five minutes remaining in the 60-minute session, Reece Gold was the second driver to turn a sub-78-second lap.

Sulaiman, who waited until after the last red flag to hit the track, only completed four laps but had the fourth quickest lap time.

The 16 drivers with functioning transponders completed 305 circuits of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course. Kaminsky, Yeany, and Ahmed were the busiest of the bunch, completing 57.5 miles of running. (25 laps).

The timing screen shows that reigning USF2000 champ Rasmussen did not complete any laps. The Dane was on track but had a non-functioning transponder.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires spring training at Barber Motorsports Park test session #1 timesheet.

1 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.7737 —- 16
2 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:17.8653 0.0916 15
3 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:17.9796 0.2059 25
4 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:18.0327 0.2590 24
5 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:18.1558 0.3821 4
6 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA 1:18.1651 0.3914 23
7 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:18.2199 0.4462 15
8 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development 1:18.2621 0.4884 25
9 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:18.2731 0.4994 24
10 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:18.5261 0.7524 23
11 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.6116 0.8379 19
12 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:18.6701 0.8964 25
13 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:18.7333 0.9596 18
14 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:18.8273 1.0536 24
15 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:19.1809 1.4072 20
16 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport 1:23.0045 5.2308 5
17 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development No Time

The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will be back on track at 4 pm for their second Easter Sunday session.