By Steve Wittich
For the third straight race in row the 1.786 mile, 11-Turn Exhibition Place street circuit was kind to fellow Canadian Parker Thompson. After dominating the race on Saturday, the Red Deer, Alberta native needed a little luck to climb to the top step of the podium on Sunday. The Exclusive Autosport veteran was the beneficiary of home court advantage when the top three collided while he was running fourth.
Thompson’s sixth career MRTI win solidified his third place championship standing, and opened the door just a little bit for him to make a run at the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship for winning the championship.
Thompson won the race, but Rinus VeeKay was also a big winner. The 16 year-old showed incredible patience, and it payed off when current points leader Oliver Askew was collected in an incident and VeeKay inherited second place, and moved to within 19 points of Askew in the title chase.
Kaylen Frederick, who didn’t become comfortable on the tricky street circuit until yesterday’s race was the biggest mover of the day. The 15 year-old Team Pelfrey driver started the race in 13th and gained 10 spots to snag the final spot on the podium.
Darren Keane, a 17 year-old is in only his second season in cars, and his fourth place finish is the best of his young career. The Florida native had a stand-out karting career and is coached by current Michael Shank Racing driver Oswaldo Negri, Jr.
There was drama before the start of the race. Cape Motorsports driver Rick Donison did not start the race, and the DEForce Racing machine of Kory Enders could not get going. The Texas based crew was able to get the distinctive silver and blue No. 11 push started, and the 19 year-old was able to recover to finish the race in seventh.
Askew got a good start on the field, but by the time he and fellow front row start David Malukas got to the end of the long Lake Shore Boulevard straight, they were side-by-side. Askew “missed” the corner, but kept it off the wall and both he and Malukas were passed by Alex Baron, who started the race on the inside of the second row.
At the end of the fist lap the top 10 were: Baron, Askew, Malukas, Thompson, VeeKay, Robert Megennis, Calvin Ming, Jose Sierra, Devin Wojcik, and Frederick.
At the beginning of the second lap, Baron’s lead over Askew was 0.7 seconds. Further back in the field newcomer Sierra and Pabst Racing’s Ming made contact. Ming was forced to pit road for repairs, and lost two laps to the leaders, finishing in 11th. Sierra was forced to serve a drive-thru for avoidable contact, but was able to stay on the lead lap, ending the day in eighth.
Malukas obviously had a fast car, and was able to get by Askew in Turn 3 on Lap 4, and immediately started to eat into the lead that Baron had built.
For two straight laps, Malukas tried to go around the outside of Baron for the lead. Both times Baron chose the inside defensive line, and Malukas could not get far enough ahead of Baron to complete the pass.
On the next circuit, The No. 79 of Malukas followed the Cooper Tire tracks of Baron’s No. 4 down the long Lake Shore Boulevard back straight, and just as they reached the braking zone, popped to the inside of the No. 4 ArmsUp Motorsports machine of Baron. Malukas was able to get the car slowed down enough to make the corner, but pushed out into Baron across the concrete patch making contact with Baron’s car and spinning him to the inside.
The No. 4 spun into the side of Malukas immediately ending the day of the first and second place drivers, and Askew, who was right behind them had nowhere to go, coming to a stop with damage to the nose of his car.
Not surprisingly, after the race both drivers pointed the finger of blame at each other.
Askew was able to get the Mazda sponsored Soul Red No. 3 re-started and extricated, and back to his Cape Motorsports crew. They attempted to fix the car, but Askew was forced to retire, finishing the race in 12th.
This handed the lead over to Saturday race winner Thompson, who was followed by VeeKay, Robert Megennis, Kaylen Frederick, Devin Wojcik, Darren Keane, Dev Gore, Jayson Clunie, Kory Enders, and Jose Sierra.
Thompson did not get a great jump on the restart, and VeeKay told us that he was definitely going for the win, but the young Dutch driver faced too much pressure from behind. Megennis got a great start and tried to go around the outside of VeeKay, but was not able to complete the pass, and lost momentum falling back to sixth.
This allowed Wojcik to move up to the final spot on the podium. The ArmsUp Motorsports rookie was able to hold onto the last spot on the podium for two laps before he was passed by Frederick.
Wojcik lost a couple of more spots to Keane and Megennis the last few laps, but when TSO chatted with the 17 year-old after the race he was still happy with his best finish of the year. The native of Up-State New York State credited having Indy Lights veteran Alex Baron as his teammate the last two weekends as helping him learn where he needs to improve.
Over the course of the final six laps VeeKay was clearly the quickest driver on track. On Lap 14 Thompson had 1.9 second lead over VeeKay, and when they took the checkered flag nine laps later Thompson crossed the line only 0.6 seconds ahead VeeKay.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products Race #2 results
|1||90||Parker Thompson||22 laps|
|11||22||Calvin Ming||– 2 LAPS|
|12||3||Oliver Askew||-12 LAPS|
|13||4||Alex Baron||-14 LAPS|
|14||79||David Malukas||-14 LAPS|
|15||23||Lucas Kohl||-22 LAPS|
|16||12||Moises de la Vara||DNS|