Michael d’Orlando and the DB Collaborative/Focused Project Mgmt. sponsored No. 18 won twice on July 4 weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The call to fire the 28 USF2000 engines that served as an 8:00 am wake-up call for the throngs of campers at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was given by Rob Howden.

After one pace lap, the field got the green flag in front of the Cooper Tire Mid-Ohio Tower.

Pole sitter Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) got a great start, getting cleanly through the first lap. Race control quickly announced that the start was under review. They decided that no action was necessary.

At the halfway point of the first lap, the yellow flag came out for a pair of incidents. In Turn 2, Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), who started 14th, and Myles Rowe (Force Indy), who started 17th, ended up in the gravel trap outside The Keyhole.

Christie was able to continue but finished four laps down. Unfortunately, the No. 99 of Rowe had too much damage to continue.

In Turn 4, Evan Stamer was spun, getting stuck in the grass.

The running order under yellow after one lap was Porto, Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Chase Hyland (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nathan Byrd (Legacy Autosport), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Myles Rowe (Force Indy) and Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports).

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got both incidents cleaned up quickly, with the green flag coming back out to start Lap 3. Porto, d’Orlando, and Sikes went nose to tail until the back straight when they went three-wide into Turn 4, with d’Orlando using the outside line to take the lead for the second time this weekend.

On Lap 4, in Turn 5, Frazer’s right front made contact with the left rear of Siegel while they were battling in the top ten. As a result, Frazer was penalized for avoidable contact, dropping to the back of the field as his penance.

On Lap 5, there was another incident, this time; it was the No. 63 Joe Dooling Autosports of Trey Burke that brought out the yellow flag. Unfortunately, the dirt track star got into Turn 4 a little too hot, ending up in the gravel at China Beach. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got him going again, but he fell down a lap.

The running order as the race restarted on Lap 9 was d’Orlando, Porto, Sikes, Round-Garrido, Denmark, Vodanovich, Nepveu, Sundaramoorthy, Kohlbecker, Green, Brooks, Lee, Myers, Pierson, Evans, Garg, Weir, Navarro, Vaccaro, Hyland, Byrd, Siegel, Frazer, Campbell, Stamer, Burke, Christie and Rowe.

The race restarted on Lap 9. Once again, the field got cleanly through the first three corners before the battling began. Brooks, who started 16th, passed a pair of cars in Turn 4, moving up to ninth. Also, on that lap, Sikes could get around Porto for the second step of the podium.

On Lap 10, the third yellow of the messy race came out. This time, the No. 11 of DEForce Racing veteran Prescott Campbell took contact from newcomer Hyland, destroying the right rear suspension and stranding him in the grass between Turn 4 and Turn 5. Hyland was penalized for avoidable contact and was asked to restart at the field’s tail.

The green came out with seven laps remaining, giving d’Orlando a chance to practice his restart once again. Sikes followed d’Orlando through the first four corners, but behind them, there was plenty of action. Round-Garrido faked inside before going outside of Porto in Turn 4. Also making moves were Sundaramoorthy, who moved to sixth, and Green, who moved to tenth.

Porto dropped two more spots on the next lap, letting Denmark and Sundaramoorthy by him and dropping him to sixth.

d’Orlando’s lead with five laps remaining was 0.6 seconds over Sikes. The next time they crossed under the starter’s stand, the lead was 0.8 seconds. On that lap, Sundaramoorthy was pressuring his Pabst Racing teammate Denmark and Brooks were putting pressure on Porto.

d’Orlando stretched the lead to 1.2 seconds. Further back, Denmark had responded to the pressure from Sundaramoorthy, turning the quickest lap of the race and putting pressure on Round-Garrido.

With two laps remaining, Round-Garrido drove Denmark to the wall on the front straight. That cost the rookie his momentum, and he lost three spots, moving his teammate Sundaramoorthy to fourth, Porto to fifth, and Brooks to sixth.

After the race, Round-Garrido was penalized one position for blocking, moving Sundaramoorthy to the final spot on the podium.

d’Orlando held a comfortable one-second lead over the final two laps, with the Hartsdale, New York native getting the checkered flag first for the third time in the last six races.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #3 unofficial results

1 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 20 LAPS
2 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1.0725
3 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 4.2828
4 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 3.3809
5 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 4.8656
6 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 5.7744
7 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 6.3091
8 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 7.8275
9 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 8.5618
10 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 8.8058
11 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 9.2281
12 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 11.7440
13 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 11.9926
14 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 12.9411
15 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 13.2913
16 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 14.9237
17 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 15.2451
18 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 15.7189
19 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 15.9986
20 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 17.7607
21 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 19.6319
22 20 Nathan Byrd Legacy Autosport 26.0992
23 7 Chase Hyland Jay Howard Driver Development 27.9478
24 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -1 LAP
25 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -2 LAPS
26 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -4 LAPS
27 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing -10 LAPS
28 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -19 LAPS

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder will now take a break, returning to action at the New Jersey Motorsports Park at the end of August.