The Radford Racing School/Metal Works sponsored No. 23 of Jace Denmark led the lone Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice in Toronto Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Jace Denmark, only 32 points out of the championship lead, will start in the prime spot, his second pole start this year, but it wasn’t exactly conventional.

Championship leader Myles Rowe was the quickest driver in Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying but won’t be starting the pole for Saturday’s race.

The Pabst Racing driver blew through the checkered flag, completing an extra lap of the 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit, putting him afoul of Rule 8.5.7, which states:

If a Driver does not obey the checkered flag, regardless of the location its displayed, they may be penalized. If a penalty is warranted, it will be a loss of two (2) grid positions.

Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports) will start outside the first row, his best qualifying effort since a trio of poles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Exclusive Autosport rookie and Kiwi Jacob Douglas will start fourth, his best starting spot of the season.

Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), who trails Rowe by 12 points in the title chase, will start from the fifth spot.

When Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying sessions for Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Toronto Race #1 began, the ambient temperature was a comfortable 73F, and the track temperature was 113.5F.

As he completed his out lap, the lone driver competing under the Canadian flag, Thomas Nepveu, made contact in the final corner, shedding some of the No. 10 DEForce Racing machine and leaving the debris on the front stretch.

Nepveau wasn’t the only driver with an issue on his out lap. The No. 92 Exclusive Autosport race car of Billy Frazer stopped three-quarters of a way down the long Lakeshore Drive back straight. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team flat towed him back to pit lane, and the green flag came back out with only eight minutes remaining.

Most of the field had only completed two laps with a pair of Turn 3 Motorsport drivers up front. Christian Weir held the provisional pole, ahead of his teammate Spike Kohlbecker, Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), and championship leader Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing).

Lap times quickly began to fall, with Michael d’Orlando the first driver to grab the provisional pole.

He was quickly supplanted by Weir, who was best by Denmark, the driver who led the lone practice session.

With five minutes remaining, Denmark held the provisional pole over Rowe, Jones, d’Orlando, Weir, and Papasavvas, all within a half-second of the Pabst Racing veteran.

d’Orlando was the next driver to grab the provisional pole, but that only lasted for a lap.

On his 10th lap of qualifying, Rowe was the first and only driver to turn a lap under 73 seconds, besting his teammate Denmark by almost two-tenths of a second.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Toronto Race #1

1 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 1:12.8169
2 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:13.0629 -0.246
3 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1:13.1775 -0.3606
4 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1:13.2220 -0.4051
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:13.2391 -0.4222
6 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:13.2884 -0.4715
7 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 1:13.3910 -0.5741
8 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 1:13.4927 -0.6758
9 6 Evagoras Papasavvas Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.5004 -0.6835
10 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1:13.5970 -0.7801
11 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 1:13.6476 -0.8307
12 91 Nicholas d’Orlando Exclusive Autosport 1:13.7928 -0.9759
13 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 1:14.3481 -1.5312
14 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.8767 -2.0598
15 7 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.2221 -2.4052
16 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport No Time