Anthony Martin has parlayed his full promise and potential into his first career win in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series, controlling the 30-minute Round 5 of the season, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
While Martin led flag-to-flag in the 20-lap race, it was not as easy as the usual pole-to-win run would make it seem just judging purely from the statistics.
Martin, in the No. 8 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry, started from an inherited pole position following Luke Gabin’s disqualification and led away from countryman Jordan Lloyd in the No. 21 Pabst Racing entry and the second of three Cape cars, Parker Thompson in the No. 2 car.
Victor Franzoni was fourth and Yufeng Luo fifth at the conclusion of the first lap.
Gabin, who’d been relegated to 24thh as one of three drivers who broke the checkered flag, rose seven positions on the opening lap in the No. 91 JAY Motorsports car to 17th.
On Lap 3 a full-course caution flew for National class driver Dale VandenBush in the No. 7 ArmsUp Motorsports entry, off-course at Turn 7.
At the Lap 4 restart, Martin led Lloyd, Thompson, Franzoni and Luo. Gabin had made it up to 14th.
On Lap 5 Thompson made it around Lloyd for second with Franzoni just behind. By Lap 6, Franzoni had passed Lloyd for third and the final podium position.
Additionally, Gabin had cracked the top 10 in ninth place, but was ordered by Race Control to cede the position on Lap 7 to Ayla Agren (No. 33 John Cummiskey Racing) after exceeding the track limits.
On Lap 10 the race stabilized with Martin clear of Thompson, with Franzoni, Lloyd and Luo in the top five. Gabin, meanwhile, recovered from his brief error to get up to sixth – back ahead of Agren and rookie teammate Lucas Kohl.
While Martin was able to keep the gap to Thompson in the five to eight tenths of a second ballpark, the Canadian was unable to make a realistic passing attempt.
The top five stayed static to the finish, with Martin able to secure his first career USF2000 win over Thompson by 0.5143 of a second. Franzoni finished third for his second podium of the year in the No. 9 ArmsUp Motorsports entry. Lloyd and Luo completed the top five.
Kohl and Agren were sixth and seventh, with Kohl posting his best career finish. The three remaining Team Pelfrey entrants, Robert Megennis, T.J. Fischer and Jordan Cane, rounded out the top 10. Fischer, who tested here several years ago, was another of the checkered flag violators in qualifying and did well to advance from 25th to ninth.
Eric Filgueiras captured the National class victory for Spencer Racing.
Gabin, who’d made a minor miracle happen to get back to sixth after gaining 18 spots from the start, posted a 1:49.561 final lap after another slow lap just before that. He ended 20th in what was a most unrepresentative finish.
After the race Martin expressed that his emotions were overwhelming as he took the final turn of the race, knowing he’d finally won in front of family and friends at this historic track. He admitted he’d felt sorry for Gabin, who lost the pole. The race was won following the restart, when he headed off Lloyd and Thompson would later get around Lloyd. That gave him enough of a gap to run away and hold off his teammate.
In second, Thompson said although he was pushing, noted he wouldn’t have done anything stupid. He also said given the cooler temperatures that it took his car about six laps for the Cooper Tires to come up to temperatures. Thompson should have the pole for Saturday’s race based on second fastest laps, and also agreed with Martin in noting how weird the end of qualifying was.
Franzoni enjoyed his battle with Lloyd and thanked him for a clean race.
Unofficial results are below with the second race of the weekend set for 12:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
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