By Tony DiZinno
Kirkwood controls an otherwise chaotic race two
Motivated to win Saturday after losing a win he felt he probably deserved on Friday, Cape Motorsports’ Kyle Kirkwood executed a controlled drive Saturday morning to win the second Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda race of the weekend. It’s his second win of the season.
The 20-lap, 40-minute race featured a waved off start and a finish under yellow but like on Friday, featured no shortage of action to cap off USF2000’s portion of the Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America weekend.
The race start was waved off due to debris on course. Before the green Michael d’Orlando’s tough weekend continued as he pitted his repaired No. 51 Team BENIK car. He’d need to catch up the field when the race restarted.
It went green on Lap 2, but without one of Friday’s podium finishers Jose Sierra. The Mexican driver pitted his No. 12 DEForce Racing car and retired from the race. Baron passed Kohl for second and tried by Kirkwood on the outside of Turn 7 to try to emulate his move from Friday, but to no avail. Caroline got by Kohl for third.
Baron’s race went away from him on Lap 3, following contact with Caroline at Turn 7. Caroline tried to Baron’s inside but the two drivers made contact, which pitched Baron into a spin and around, and dropped him to 24th. Keep that in mind though for how this race progressed.
With the contact, Caroline moved into second ahead of all four Pabst Racing cars in succession: Kohl (No. 22), Lindh (No. 23), Ming (No. 21) and Frederick (No. 24), with Holden now best of DEForce’s quartet in seventh. Soler-Obel, van der Watt and Keane complete the top 10.
Lindh is closing on the leaders as he sets the fastest race lap on Lap 4 from third place. Kirkwood though has extended his lead to 2.4405 seconds.
The Swede’s race takes a turn for the worse on Lap 5 as he drops to eighth. Kohl, Holden, Frederick, Soler-Obel and van der Watt are all past for position on this lap. Lindh isn’t the only Pabst Racing car in trouble as Ming pits his No. 21 car with front wing damage.
Reset on Lap 6 is Kirkwood, Caroline, Kohl, Holden, Soler-Obel, Frederick, van der Watt, Keane, Lindh and Roe in the top 10. Fraga has improved to 16th from 22nd and Baron is back to 20th from 24th.
As Kirkwood gaps the lead up to 7.3982 seconds over the field, Caroline now has a train of cars behind him in his No. 28 BN Racing entry.
It all gets a bit crazy on Lap 10 as Holden passes Kohl for third in the Turns 3 and 4 complex, but contact for him later in the lap wounds his No. 10 DEForce car and ends his podium chances.
At Lap 10, the revised order is Kirkwood is leading by 9.2926 seconds, with Frederick now second after starting 12th, then Caroline third, Kohl fourth, Soler-Obel fifth, then van der Watt, Lindh, Holden, Keane ande Roe in the top 10. Holden parks his car in the runoff at Turn 1.
Then on Lap 11 at Turn 4, there’s contact that takes out Caroline and Frederick. Frederick’s No. 24 Pabst car is beached at Turn 4, while Caroline limps his No. 28 BN car into the pits and retires from the race.
It’s a drastically shaken up order as the race goes to its second full-course caution. Kirkwood’s lead is erased and he’s now leading Lindh, Keane who’s rocketed up to third, Roe now fourth, Enders fifth, Kaminsky sixth, Soler-Obel seventh, Dupell eighth, Baron miraculously back to ninth and Cabrera in the top 10. Then it’s Fraga, Kohl, Peichel, van der Watt, Tomaselli, Osborne, d’Orlando, Donegan, Cook and DeLuzuriaga in the top 20.
The restart comes at the end of Lap 13 and start of Lap 14. Kirkwood gets a good jump and leads away from Lindh, while Roe tries a move on Keane for third around the outside into Turn 1. He’s unable to complete it in either Turn 1 or Turn 7.
Baron gains two more spots on the restart and is up to seventh, past Soler-Obel and Dupell.
The top three broke away while Roe held back a train of cars, running fourth in the second Swan-RJB car. The Irishman has a quick turnaround to finish this race, and then will fly to Watkins Glen International after it.
Baron gains three spots on Lap 15, and is back to fourth after getting around Kaminsky, Enders and Roe, and is now just 0.6479 behind Keane in third.
On Lap 15 with just five to go, Lindh is within 0.6261 of Kirkwood. He maintains the gap at 0.6636 of a second. Baron is now just a tenth behind Keane for third and is right on his gearbox coming through the exit of Turn 4.
Contact further back at Turn 4 occurs between the No. 37 Newman Wachs Racing car of David Osborne with d’Orlando’s No. 51 Team BENIK car. Osborne and d’Orlando were running 16th and 17th at the time. Osborne’s car is beached in the gravel trap, and this brings out the third full-course caution of the race. Dupell’s No. 81 Team Pelfrey car ran deep at Turn 12 just prior to this, and the caution allows him an opportunity to restart, although he headed into the pits.
Baron made it past Keane for third just prior to this yellow and will restart just behind Lindh in second and leader Kirkwood.
As the field passes under the start/finish line at the end of Lap 18, we get the one to go before green signal from Race Control, so we’ll get a one-lap dash.
The order before this restart is Kirkwood, Lindh, Baron, Keane, Roe, Enders, Kaminsky, Kohl, Soler-Obel and Fraga in the top 10. Van der Watt is 11thh ahead of Cabrera, Peichel, Tomaselli, Ming, Donegan, McDonough, DeLuzuriaga, d’Orlando and Cook the top 20 and all drivers on the lead lap.
Even before the restart, contact occurs further back as Tomaselli’s No. 82 Team Pelfrey car is stopped on course at Turn 12 without its rear wing. The Brazilian driver hops out of her car and scrambles off track.
Race Control lets the race proceed under green for the start of the lap through Turn 7 before throwing the fourth and final full-course caution of the race, before the field hits Tomaselli’s stricken and stranded Pelfrey car.
Baron had gotten into second just before the yellow flag here, and crossed the line behind race winner Kirkwood under yellow.
Kirkwood and Baron split the weekend in USF2000, just as they did in St. Petersburg, except in the reverse order. There, Kirkwood won race one and Baron race two. Here, it was Baron winning race one and Kirkwood winning race two.
Lindh’s weekend promise ends with the Swede scoring his first career USF2000 podium finish, and joins Kohl as a Pabst driver with a podium this year.
Keane and Roe started ninth and 10th and finish fourth and fifth, Roe posting an impressive top-five finish in only his second start in USF2000, and confirming Swan-RJB Motorsports gets its first double top-five finish.
Enders and Kaminsky uphold the day for DEForce in sixth and seventh, with Kohl, van der Watt and Cabrera in the top 10. Cabrera was just ahead of Exclusive Autosport teammate Fraga for the final top-10 position.
Kaminsky’s No. 27 car has significant front end damage and goes through the runoff at oval Turn 1, road course Turn 12. He’s listed seventh provisionally.
It was a wild race but the weekend, confirmed Kirkwood and Baron as the primary title contenders from here.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Race #2 Unofficial Results
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