By Tony DiZinno
Heading into the weekend, just 16 points separate the top five drivers in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe, following a heavy accident in practice at St. Petersburg that has threatened to jeopardize his season, has fought back with two impressive wins in St. Pete race two and Barber race one that puts him atop the charts, tied with Cape Motorsports’ Michael d’Orlando.
Barber race two winner Jagger Jones, one of d’Orlando’s Cape teammates, sits third at eight points back (86-78) with Pabst’s Jace Denmark, the St. Pete race one winner and Exclusive’s Billy Frazer a further eight back tied for fourth.
There was a surprise in Thursday’s lone practice session. Series newcomer Alex Quinn led the way for Velocity Racing Development. The driver of the No. 17 Tatuus USF-22 lapped the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course at 1:26.6463, with Jones second, d’Orlando third, Frazer fourth and Viktor Andersson fifth. Rowe and Denmark were seventh and ninth, respectively.
Quinn is one of a handful of USF2000 newcomers this weekend in the now 23-car field. The Englishman’s VRD entry is a partnership with European team Arden. Other newcomers include Exclusive’s Joey Brienza, DEForce Racing’s Chase Gardner and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Frankie Mossman.
Qualifying kicked off Friday’s track activity from IMS. Denmark was the first driver in the 1:25 bracket at 1:25.914 seven minutes into the 20-minute session. Quinn surpassed that at 1:25.773 before a red flag flew nine minutes into the session for Jorge Garciarce stopped off course at Turn 7.
The order at this red flag was Quinn, Denmark, d’Orlando, Jones and Thomas Nepveu in the top five. Rowe stood 11th, albeit only 0.597 off Quinn’s fastest time. Teams took the opportunity to change to fresh sets of Cooper Tires under this red flag.
Times started to fall under the seven-minute mark remaining in the session. First d’Orlando, then Nepveu and Jones surpassed Quinn’s provisional pole lap.
There were no further changes in the top five, with Jones securing his maiden USF2000 pole a race after winning his first race.
Jagger’s grandfather, the great Parnelli Jones, won a pair of Indianapolis 500 poles in 1962 and 1963, and he followed the latter pole with his lone ‘500 victory in 1963.
Quinn will start second for his USF2000 debut ahead of Nepveu, Denmark and d’Orlando in the top five. Rowe starts seventh, a spot behind Bijoy Garg. Simon Sikes, Joey Brienza and Billy Frazer complete the top 10.
Drivers will take the green flag for Round 5 of the season, the first of three USF2000 races this weekend, at 11:45 a.m. ET and local time.
USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Qualifying Results
|1||3||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||1:25.4254||1:25.4254|
|2||17||Alex Quinn||Velocity Racing Development||1:25.4910||0.0656|
|3||10||Thomas Nepveu||DEForce Racing||1:25.5169||0.0915|
|4||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:25.5500||0.1246|
|5||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:25.6898||0.2644|
|6||12||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||1:25.8164||0.3910|
|7||22||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||1:25.8174||0.3920|
|8||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:25.8652||0.4398|
|9||91||Joey Brienza||Exclusive Autosport||1:25.9057||0.4803|
|10||92||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:25.9945||0.5691|
|11||13||Chase Gardner||DEForce Racing||1:26.0771||0.6517|
|12||2||Jackson Lee||Cape Motorsports||1:26.0838||0.6584|
|13||33||Spike Kohlbecker||Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport||1:26.1216||0.6962|
|14||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:26.1368||0.7114|
|15||11||Dylan Christie||DEForce Racing||1:26.1560||0.7306|
|16||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:26.1715||0.7461|
|17||30||Viktor Andersson||Velocity Racing Development||1:26.2077||0.7823|
|18||5||Nicky Hays||Cape Motorsports||1:26.2253||0.7999|
|19||90||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||1:26.2816||0.8562|
|20||8||Danny Dyszelski||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:26.3871||0.9617|
|21||6||Frankie Mossman||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:26.8917||1.4663|
|22||7||Yeoroo Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:27.2405||1.8151|
|23||9||Jorge Garciarce||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:28.4680||3.0426|