Mac Clark (DEForce Racing), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports) and Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) share the podium in the second USF2000 race at Portland International Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

In an attempt to make some time after the 1 hour and 21-minute delay during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, the 19 Elite 2.0L engines were fired only two minutes after Reece Gold took the checkered flag in the Indy Pro 2000 race. The quick turn-around was due to a noise ordinance.

With only four points separating them in the championship, Denmark and Rowe brought the field to the green flag at 5:59 pm.

From his outside from row starting spot, Rowe quickly tucked in behind Denmark as the No. 23 Pabst Racing machine covered the inside as they approached the braking area of the 90-degree right-hand Turn 1.

Rowe ramped up over the back of his teammate and pole-sitter, knocking the rear wing off Denmark and losing his front wing.

Thomas Nepveu, who started third and was behind the crashing teammates, could not make the corner after getting sideways in avoidance.

The fourth driver that started in the first two rows, Velocity Racing Development’s Nikita Johnson, was stuck on the outside and had to use the Turn 1 run-off.

That left Canadian newcomer Matt Clark, who started seventh, as the big winner of the chaotic start, grabbing the lead as the remainder of the field exited the Festival Curves.

Denmark attempted to continue at the back of the field, but without a rear wing, went off course in Turn 4 before coming in for repairs, and eventually finished five laps down in 18th.

Rowe continued to fall down the running order until pitting on the fourth lap for repairs, falling one lap down.

Race control quickly announced that the incident was under review, eventually giving Rowe a provisional 30-second time penalty (pending video review from the surrounding cars).

The running order after the first lap was Clark, Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Rowe, Dylan Christie (DEForce Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport), Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport), Danny Dyszelski (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nicholas d’Orlando (Exclusive Autosport), Jorge Garciarce (Jay Howard Driver Development), Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), Nepveu (DEForce Racing), Johnson (Velocity Racing Development), Ethan Ho (Velocity Racing Development), Lucas Mann (Turn 3 Motorsport), Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), and Denmark.

After five laps, DEForce Racing newcomer James Hinchcliffe mentored Clark and had a one-second lead.

Things remained relatively calm throughout the remainder of the first half of the 18-lap event.

The Canadian’s lead when he got the crossed flags to signify the halfway point was barely over one second ahead of Hays, who was another second behind Frazer. But, right behind him, d’Orlando was putting pressure on the final spot on the podium.

On the next lap, Hays knocked a third of a second off Clark’s lead, which was down to under a half-second with six laps remaining—after that, only 3.5 seconds separated the top four.

The lead had settled to a half-second, about five car lengths with five to go.

On Lap 15, the first yellow of the race came out when the second d’Orlando (Nicholas) made contact with the wall on the outside of Turn 10 while battling Kohlbecker for eighth. It appeared the No. 33 squeezed the No. 93, and race control quickly announced that the incident was under review.

Unfortunately, the race ended under yellow, with Clark taking his first win in his second series start. That certainly has to help his confidence as he heads to Circuit of The Americas, leading the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires championship.

Unofficially, Rowe has a seven-point lead over d’Orlando and eight points over Denmark, pending any change in position due to penalties.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race #2 results (very unofficial).

1 12 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 18 LAPS
2 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports -0.8977
3 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -2.6205
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -3.6175
5 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport -4.362
6 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport -4.573
7 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing -5.5052
8 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport -6.3628
9 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing -8.5805
10 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development -8.868
11 16 Ethan Ho VRD Racing -9.8282
12 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development -10.5654
13 34 Lucas Mann Turn 3 Motorsport -11.4094
14 6 Evagoras Papasavvas Jay Howard Driver Development -12.5386
15 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing -1 LAP
16 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports -1 LAP
17 17 Nikita Johnson VRD Racing -1 LAP
18 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -4 LAPS
19 93 Nicholas d’Orlando Exclusive Autosport – 5 LAPS