By Steve Wittich
Christian Weir, a Turn 3 Motorsport 15-year-old, is the fourth Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship to score his first series pole in the first four races of the 2022 season.
However, the session was extremely tight, with the following two drivers within two hundredths of a second and the top 11 drivers within a half-second of Weir.
Weir’s quickest lap was 82.3788 seconds.
It’s the first-ever USF2000 pole for Turn 3 Motorsport.
Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing), who won the pole for the first race that will get the green flag at 3:20 pm, will start on the outside of the front row for Sunday’s series final race.
The second row includes Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports) and Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport).
Nineteen drivers took to the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course at 10:15, immediately following the second NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice.
That chaotic session was the first time the stickier alternate tires were used, giving the teams and drivers another dynamic to consider.
Like yesterday, Sikes was the quickest driver after four laps. The Legacy Autosport driver was followed by a pair of Cape Motorsports drivers, Jackson Lee and Jagger Jones.
After his quick lap, Sikes went for a wild ride in Turn 1, going a little wide, getting oversteer, and looping the No. 19. However, he was able to continue, pitting for fresh Cooper Tires.
At the session’s halfway point, most of the field was on pit road for fresh Cooper Tire slicks and adjustments.
The quickest driver was the St. Petersburg Race #1 pole winner Nepveau with a lap at 82.6199 seconds. He was followed in the top ten by Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Sikes, Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Lee, Jones, Rowe, Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), and Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport).
The first driver to improve on his fresh tires was Jones, but the rest of the field were on hot laps.
Those hot laps were interrupted by a red flag, which was not ideal for those drivers.
The red flag came out with under five minutes remaining in the session when the No. 8 Jay Howard Driver Development machine of Danny Dyszelski came to a stop in Turn 13.
Before the session stopped, Turn 3 Motorsport youngster Christian Weir grabbed the provisional pole, going quicker than Jones by over two-tenths of a second.
The green flag quickly came out as the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got the No. 8 restarted and back to pit land and his crew.
As drivers were on their out lap, the red flag came out for the second time, with three minutes of green flag running left.
The cause of the red was once again a Jay Howard Driver Development driver; this time, it was the No. 7 of Yeeroo Lee, who was beached in the gravel in Turn 9.
The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got him out, started his Elite Engines 2.0L, and he was able to drive back to pit lane.
With only three minutes remaining, drivers would only have one lap to try and improve on their best lap.
When the green flag came out, the field streamed out on track, working hard to get their tires up to the proper operating temperature.
Rowe, the pole sitter for this afternoon’s race, was in the tenth spot when the session restarted, but the New Yorker could lay down a quick lap, missing his second straight pole by a slim hundredth of a second.
Also improving on their last laps were d’Orlando, Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), and Dylan Christie (DEForce Racing).
Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama race #2 qualifying results
|RANK||CAR. NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.3788||——|
|2||22||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||1:22.3901||-0.0113|
|3||3||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||1:22.4076||-0.0288|
|4||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:22.5496||-0.1708|
|5||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:22.5647||-0.1859|
|6||12||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||1:22.5849||-0.2061|
|7||10||Thomas Nepveu||DEForce Racing||1:22.6199||-0.2411|
|8||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:22.6749||-0.2961|
|9||92||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.6989||-0.3201|
|10||2||Jackson Lee||Cape Motorsports||1:22.7766||-0.3978|
|11||5||Nicky Hays||Cape Motorsports||1:22.8505||-0.4717|
|12||90||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||1:23.0006||-0.6218|
|13||11||Dylan Christie||DEForce Racing||1:23.0600||-0.6812|
|14||33||Spike Kohlbecker||Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport||1:23.1008||-0.722|
|15||30||Viktor Andersson||Velocity Racing Development||1:23.2899||-0.9111|
|16||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:23.3148||-0.936|
|17||9||Jorge Garciarce||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:23.4514||-1.0726|
|18||8||Danny Dyszelski||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:23.5489||-1.1701|
|19||7||Yeoroo Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:24.6993||-2.3205|