By Steve Wittich

Welcome to Part #2 of our 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires preview. You can read Part #1 here –> Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires preview – Part #1 – The Anatomy of a Champion 

All the season opener information you need

The 23rd season-opening Indy Pro 2000/Pro Mazda/Star Mazda is set to get the green flag at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday, April 17.

The race will be the first time the park-like 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course will host the season opener.

It will be the first season opener held in Alabama. The Yellowhammer State is only the fifth state to play host to an Indy Pro 2000 season opener. The Indy Pro 2000 season has got underway in Florida in 18 of 22 seasons.

Barber Motorsports Park joins Circuit of The Americas and Road America as the third natural terrain road course to play host to the season opener.

Active Indy Pro 2000 teams Abel Motorsports, Juncos Racing, and Turn 3 Motorsports are three of the 13 teams that have won the Indy Pro 2000 season opener. Connor DePhillippi, Diego Ferreira, Spencer Pigot, and Rinus VeeKay have won the first race of the season for Juncos Racing. The four wins are the most for any team.

Turn 3 Motorsport driver Danial Frost celebrates winning the first Indy Pro 2000 race of the 2020 season. Turn 3 Motorsport is one of three active teams to win an Indy Pro 2000 season opener (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Scott Speed (2002), Dan Di Leo (2004), Gerardo Bonilla (2006), Marco Di Leo (2007), Joel Miller (2008), and Diego Ferreira (2013) all won the lone Indy Pro 2000 race of their career in a season opener.

The average finishing position of the eventual title winner in the season opener is 4.7.

Only 31.8%, or seven of the 22 previous series champions – Joey Hand (1999), Bernardo Martinez (2000), Scott Bradley (2001), Rafa Matos (2005), Adam Christodoulou (2009), Spencer Pigot (2014), and Rinus VeeKay (2018) went to victory lane in the season opener and also won the championship.

Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) on the way to a season opening win in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Finishing on the podium in the opener is more critical, with 16 of the 22 champions standing on the year’s first podium.

The last two Indy Pro 2000 champions did not finish on the podium. Last season, Sting Ray Robb finished the first race of the season at Road America in fifth place. In 2019, Kyle Kirkwood was knocked out of the season’s first race, the only champion to start the season with a Did Not Finish (DNF).

He wasn’t the only Indy Pro 2000 champion to have a less than ideal start to the season. John Edwards, the 2008 champion, did not start the first race of the season at Sebring International Raceway. In 2004, champion Michael McDowell was disqualified from the season-opening race, also at Sebring International Raceway.

The average championship finish of the first Indy Pro 2000 winner of the season is 2.8. If you exclude season-opening winners that did not contest the entire season, the average championship finish drops to 2.3.

The lowest championship finish by a season-opening winner that contested the full season was Gerardo Bonilla, who ended the 2006 season in sixth place.

Gerardo Bonilla and the Andersen Racing squad celebrate a win at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions – Eric McCombs)

Indy Pro 2000 at Barber Motorsports Park

Tristan Vautier (JDC Motorsports) won the first of 11 Indy Pro 2000 races held on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain Barber Motorsports Park road course in 2011.

The last time the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires appeared at Barber Motorsports Park was in 2017. The series has held one single race weekend and five doubleheader weekends.

Indy Pro 2000 winners at Barber Motorsports Park

2018 Race #2 Harrison Scott RP Motorsport
2018 Race #1 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport
2016 Race #2 Patricio O’Ward Team Pelfrey
2016 Race #1 Patricio O’Ward Team Pelfrey
2015 Race #2 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #1 Weiron Tan Andretti Autosport
2014 Race #2 Spencer Pigot Juncos Racing
2014 Race #1 Spencer Pigot Juncos Racing
2012 Race #2 Jack Hawksworth Team Pelfrey
2012 Race #1 Martin Scuncio Juncos Racing
2011 Tristan Vautier JDC Motorsports

The current Indy Pro 2000 track records at Barber Motorsports Park are:

  • Qualifying: 76.2967 seconds set on April 21, 2018, by Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport)
  • Race: 78.4901 seconds set on April 21, 2018, by Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport)

Barber Motorsports Park quick hitters

  • None of the current Indy Pro 2000 drivers have Road To Indy wins at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • The winner’s average starting position is 1.6, with the pole sitter crossing the finish list first in eight of the 11 Indy Pro 2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • The lowest an Indy Pro 2000 winner has started is fourth. Neil Alberico (2015 Race #2) and Harrison Scott, during a wet race in 2018, both started fourth and won at Barber Motorsports Park.

Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport) focused before a 4th to 1st run in a damp Indy Pro 2000 race at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

  • Spencer Pigot (2014) and Pato O’Ward (2016) are the only drivers to win both ends of an Indy Pro 2000 doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Three active Indy Pro 2000 teams – Exclusive Autosport (1), Juncos Racing (3), and RP Motorsport (1) – have won at Barber Motorsports Park. Martin Scuncio and Spencer Pigot (twice) are the winners for the Ricardo Juncos lead team at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • The average finishing position for an Indy Pro 2000 pole starter at Barber Motorsports Park is 2.4.
  • In 2015, Andretti Autosport pilot Weiron Tan finished Race #2 in 14th after starting on the pole. The worst finishing position from an Indy Pro 2000 pole starter at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Team Pelfrey leads all Indy Pro 2000 teams with three starts from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Seven different drivers – Timothe Buret, Carlos Cunha, Connor De Phillippi, Garrett Grist, Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot, and Martin Scuncio – have amassed ten podiums for Juncos Racing. The most of any Indy Pro 2000 team at Barber Motorsports Park.

Indy Pro 2000 team podiums at Barber Motorsports Park

1 Juncos Racing 10 1
2 Team Pelfrey 8
3 Andretti Autosport 3
4 Cape Motorsports 2
5 Exclusive Autosport 2 2
6 RP Motorsport 2 2
7 HMD Motorsports 1 1
8 JDC Motorsports 1
  • Andres Gutierrez, Jack Hawksworth, Pato O’Ward, and Aaron Telitz have combined to lead 89 laps for Team Pelfrey at Barber Motorsports Park. The most laps led by any team.
  • The first three Indy Pro 2000 races at Barber Motorsports Park were run caution-free. The following eight Indy Pro 2000 races have had at least one caution.
  • The second race in 2015 had three caution periods that totaled seven laps, the high water mark for both of those.
  • Three of the 11 races have had a first lap caution.
  • Parker Thompson, Andres Gutierrez, and Harrison Scott exchanged the lead three times the last time the series visited Barber Motorsports Park. The three lead changes among the three drivers are the most for the lead changes and leaders categories at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • A pair of races – 2015 Race #2 and 2018 Race #2 finished under yellow flag conditions.
  • Tristan Vautier crossed the finish line 39.586 seconds ahead of Nick Andries in the series’ first visit to Barber Motorsports Park in 2011.

JDC Motorsports driver Tristan Vautier on track at Barber Motorsports Park during a dominant Indy Pro 2000 win in 2011 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

  • The closest margin of victory (under green conditions) occurred in Race #2 in 2012, when Martin Scuncio got the checkered flag 0.651 seconds ahead of Jack Hawksworth.