By Diane Swintal
Only three drivers have held the top spot in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires point standings this season: Turn 3 Motorsport’s Josh Green, DEForce Racing’s Nolan Siegel and Exclusive Autosport’s Louis Foster.
The points lead has changed hands four times, but not since the oval at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park back in May, when Foster took the points lead for good. He comes into the triple-header weekend at Portland with a 77-point lead over Reece Gold and with 99 points on the table this weekend All the native of Basingstoke, England has to do is virtually show up at Portland this weekend to take the championship title – and the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires scholarship package valued at $614,425.
Without Foster’s second-half surge, which saw him capture five race wins in seven races, the title chase would be stout: only 35 points separate Reece Gold, Nolan Siegel, Enaam Ahmed and Braden Eves in positions two through five. With the exception of Ahmed, all five are race winners in 2022.
As is the case in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, Exclusive Autosport is seeking its long-awaited first driver championship, having finished second with Parker Thompson in 2019 (behind Rinus VeeKay) and Eves last year. The team captured its first series team championship in 2021 with the combined efforts of Eves and Artem Petrov, but team owner Michael Duncalfe is ready to see one of his drivers take the title.
Foster came to the U.S. this season after finishing second in the 2021 Euroformula Open series. He came up through the English junior open wheel ranks, finishing second in the 2018 Ginetta Junior series, third in the 2019 British F4 series and third in British F3 in 2020. The 19-year-old has become a basketball fan since moving to Los Angeles, counting the Golden State Warriors as his favorite team and the late Kobe Bryant as his sporting hero.
Green and Siegel each held the points lead in the first weekend at St. Petersburg, Fla. by virtue of their race wins. But with podiums in three of the first four races, Foster took the lead for the first time after Round Three at Barber Motorsports Park. Siegel then regained the top spot with a win in Round Four and held that position through the GMR Grand Prix weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as contact in Rounds Five and Six put Foster outside the top 10. A win in Round Seven at Indy, coupled with a victory at LOR in his very first oval start, put Foster back on top for good.
Coming into the weekend, Foster has scored six wins, four pole positions and 10 podiums in 15 races. Once the title is clinched, he will begin to plan his graduation to Indy Lights, but several other drivers are expected to move up the ladder as well, giving Indy Lights a much-needed boost in car count. Gold, Siegel and Eves are all ready to make the jump, naturally depending on budget constraints.