By Steve Wittich
The call to fire the 2.0L engines powering 28 USF2000 cars was given by race control at 4:15pm, making it the last track activity of the day at the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.
The front row of veterans Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) brought the 16 rows of two slowly to the green flag on the front straight in front of the Cooper Tire sponsored Mid-Ohio tower.
Porto got a slight jump, getting through the fast left-hander before d’Orlando. But behind the first few rows, things got messy as the field bunched up. The drivers who started 14th (Prescott Campbell), 17th (Myles Rowe) and 19th (Dylan Christie) were involved in an incident resulting in a yellow flag. Rowe in the No. 99 Force Indy USF-18 made contact with Campbell. The No. 11 spun, collecting Rowe, with both driver stranded in the gravel trap and unable to continue.
Christie could not get slowed up quick enough, running into the back of the tangle of cars, damaging his front wing. He came to pit road and the attention of the Turn 3 Motorsport crew, who was able to make repairs and get the Columbus, Ohio born driver out before losing a lap.
The running order as the field crossed under the yellow flag on the front straight was Porto, d’Orlando, Sikes, Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Frazer, Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Chase Hyland (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nathan Byrd (Legacy Autosport), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Prescott Campbell (
The green flag came back out to start Lap 4. Porto got a good jump, but d’Orlando got a great exit from The Keyhole, looking to the outside of the Brazilian in Turn 4 before attempting an over-under in Madness. He was unable to complete the pass and dropped in behind the No. 12.
On Lap 4, championship contenders Sundaramoorthy and Brooks were making passes with the No. 22 Pabst Racing moving from 13th to 10th and the No. 44 from 15th to 13th.
The leaders went side-by-side through Turn 5, 6 and 7 on Lap 5 before Porto was once again able to get to Turn 8 first.
On Lap 11, the No. 42 of Michael Myers and No. 29 of Erik Evans made contact at the exit of Turn 5. Myers continued with rear wing damage, while Evans stopped on the track, requiring the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team to clear the Velocity Racing Development machine.
The running order under yellow as the field got the crossed flags to signifiy halfway was Porto, d’Orlando, Sikes, Frazer, Siegel, Garg, Denmark, Green, Peirson, Sundaramoorthy, Round-Garrido, Nepveu, Brooks, Kohlbecker, Vodanovich, Stamer, Wier, Lee, Navaro, Burke, Vaccaro, Byrd, Evans, Myers, Hyland, Campbell and Rowe.
The green flag came back out to start Lap 13. d’Orlando in the No. 4 tucked in behind Porto through Turn 1, 2 and 3 before moving to the outside of the No. 12 in the brake zone of Turn 4. d’Orlando utilized the banking on the outside of the corner to stay side-by-side through the right hander, giving him the preferred inside line in Turn 5.
On Lap 14, Pierson was able to get around Green for eighth, with Brooks moving past Nepveu for 12th.
With three laps remaining, d’Orlando was able to build a 1.1 second lead over Porto, who also had a second on Sikes. The best battle on track was between Siegel and Frazer for fourth, but the action was close throughout the field, with the top 22 within 13 seconds of the leader.
d’Orlando’s lead when he took the white flag was 1.3 seconds, with the veteran crossing the line 1.6 seconds ahead of Porto.
On the final lap, Round-Garrido allowed his Exclusive Autosport teammate Brooks to get by him in the final corner, moving the championship contender into 11th.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #1 Results (unofficial)
|1||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||20 LAPS|
|2||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1.6140|
|3||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||3.2726|
|4||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||3.8757|
|5||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||4.1066|
|6||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||4.8110|
|7||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||5.3292|
|8||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||5.7526|
|9||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||6.6051|
|10||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||6.9299|
|11||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||7.7727|
|12||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||8.1902|
|13||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||8.8309|
|14||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||9.1594|
|15||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||9.6646|
|16||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||11.1627|
|17||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||12.1115|
|18||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||12.3613|
|19||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||12.6608|
|20||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||13.0486|
|21||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||15.0751|
|22||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||15.6905|
|23||20||Nathan Byrd||Legacy Autosport||24.7594|
|24||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||-9 LAPS|
|25||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||-10 LAPS|
|26||7||Chase Hyland||Jay Howard Driver Development||-17 LAPS|
|27||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||-20 LAPS|
|28||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||-20 LAPS|
The second race of the weekend is set to roll off tomorrow at 2:30pm.