By Tony DiZinno
The temps were down to 67F ambient for the start of the USF Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires, five degrees cooler than USF2000, with green flag about 15 minutes later than originally scheduled (9:45 p.m. instead of 9:30 p.m.) at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Miller leads the 18 Tatuus USF-22 cars to green, or means to. But the field was so stacked up coming through Turns 3 and 4, so the initial start is waved off. Green comes out at the second attempt with a bit of a chaotic series of movement.
Pizzi around the outside made gains while de Alba goes to the inside and shoots past both Pizzi and Miller to go from third to first.
At the end of Lap 2, revised order from grid is de Alba, Miller, Pizzi, Granfors and Denmark top five with d’Orlando, Row, Browne, Weir and Lee the top 10.
Ten laps fly by at this track; it took under four minutes to run the first 10 laps of this 90-lap race.
From the back of the field, Missig has gained eight spots P18 to P10.
On L19 the gap from de Alba to Miller is back to 0.6 of a second.
It’s only 22 laps in, but leaders should look out for traffic in the next 4-6 laps.
Indeed end of L28, Monteiro and Brewer are just ahead of de Alba. Pivotal moment ahead for the Mexican driver. Monteiro by Brewer for P17 on L28.
Gap now 0.4 L30 – de Alba by Brewer.
Further back, Denmark and Rowe super tight battling over sixth; the USF2000 title combatants of a year ago run behind d’Orlando in P5, who beat them both.
De Alba gains 0.4 in traffic over Miller by L32. But loses some time as he approaches the Monteiro/Garg/Escotto battle.
Now stuck behind Monteiro, Miller within 0.3 on de Alba.
Pizzi by Miller outside P2 tried and loses it
Granfors now gets by Pizzi on L38 for P3.
The halfway gap is 0.5 91 to 40. The order: de Alba, Miller, Granfors, Pizzi and d’Orlando the top five with Rowe, Denmark, Browne, Weir and Missig the top 10.
The leaders are approaching Monteiro again L49; he managed to stay ahead of the leaders last go-around.
Rowe, meanwhile, is catching d’Orlando for fifth.
Denmark has a big issue L55, drops to P10 with a 23.519 lap while rest in 21s. Browne, Weir and Missig are all by. He loses another spot next lap to Sundaramoorthy and now into pits L57 for a right rear tire change. TBD if he’ll return.
Thirty to go L60. Rowe trying on d’Orlando, will use Brewer as a pick to get by low side. Gets to P5 L63.
Granfors make a move on Miller for second L64, inside. Now just 0.4 behind de Alba.
Granfors appears to be holding onto his Cooper Tires better than de Alba up front and is gaining 1.5-2 tenths a lap.
De Alba by Monteiro – finally on L69 – but Granfors follows him through.
Twenty to go L70. De Alba tries L71 inside and is past Lee. Granfors clears him T3-4.
Denmark returns to track L72, out of contention but will gain some additional track time/testing.
Fifteen to go. Gap 0.4 between De Alba and Granfors.
Eleven to go. De Alba extends gap to 1.0 by L79.
Full course caution comes on L81 when Weir hits the wall and stops exiting Turn 4. Car is taken away with left front and rear damage.
Doubtful we’ll be able to restart and indeed we don’t, so de Alba wins and leads an Exclusive Autosport 1-2 over Granfors in second with Miller in third.
Cooper Tires Freedom 90 Unofficial Results
|1||91||Salvador de Alba||Exclusive Autosport||90||LAP 90|
|2||92||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||90||0.517|
|3||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||90||1.047|
|4||55||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed Motorsports||90||1.947|
|5||99||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing w/Force Indy||90||4.311|
|6||1||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||90||8.747|
|7||2||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||90||9.250|
|8||19||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||90||9.897|
|9||90||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||90||10.197|
|10||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||90||12.347|
|11||6||Reece Ushijima||Jay Howard Driver Development||89||1 LAPS|
|12||47||Jackson Lee||Turn 3 Motorsport||89||1 LAPS|
|13||81||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport||89||1 LAPS|
|14||7||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||89||1 LAPS|
|15||4||Ricardo Escotto||Jay Howard Driver Development||88||2 LAPS|
|16||93||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport||87||3 LAPS|
|17||32||Christian Weir||TJ Speed Motorsports||80||Retired|
|18||20||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||75||15 LAPS|