By Steve Wittich
What was shaping up to be an exciting final few laps of Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda qualifying ended when the red flag and checkered flag came out for an on-track incident.
Kyle Kirkwood, for the fourth time this season will start on pole after turning a lap of 80.533 seconds. That lap was only a quarter second under the track record set by Matthew Brabham in 2012.
The bonus point for winning the pole means that Kirkwood enters the first race of the weekend with a 132 point lead.
This is the 20th time that a driver from the Cape Motorsports stable will start a USF2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from the inside of the front row.
The Pabst Racing quartet of Kaylen Frederick (2nd), Rasmus Lindh (3rd) Lucas Kohl (4th) and Calvin Ming (6th) were broken up by Team Benik rookie Michael D’Orlando (5th) in the first three rows.
Keith Donegan will start on the inside of row four and is followed by a trio of DEForce Racing drivers. Newcomer James Raven was followed by Jose Sierra and Kory Enders to complete the top 10.
Sunny skies, but different track conditions greeted the 24 drivers of the Mazda powered Tatuus USF2000 machines for their first qualifying session of the weekend.
The track temperature of the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course was significantly warmer then this morning and also had 45 minutes of IndyCar rubber added to the mix.
DEForce Racing driver Jose Sierra was forced to sit out the first five minutes of the 20 minute session after completing an extra lap after the checkered flag had flown on the morning practice session.
Points leader Kyle Kirkwood and morning practice leader Lindh were the only drivers to duck to pit road after ten minutes of running to make some adjustments.
At the half-way point of the session Kyle Kirkwood had the provisional pole. Lindh, Kohl, Donegan, Keane and d’Orlando were all within a half second of Kirkwood.
With just over seven minutes remaining, Frederick moved to the provisional pole with a lap just over 81 seconds.
Sitting in 11th spot, Newman Wachs Racing driver Darren Keane came to pit road for a fresh set of Cooper Tire shoes. Unfortunately, the red flag meant he was unable to utilize them.
With just under five minutes remaining Kirkwood was the first driver to crack the 81 second barrier.
With three minutes remaining in the session, and the timing screen showing plenty of purple, the red flag came out for the No. 27 DEForce Racing of Colin Kaminsky, who made contact with the barriers on driver’s left at the exit of Turn 9. The car suffered front wing, nose, right rear and right front damage, but the driver was able to get out of the car under his own power.
The No. 9 ArmsUp Motorsports machine of Dakota Dickerson was on track turning laps, but was experiencing an issue with the transponder. It will be fun to watch the Soul Red machine work it’s way through the field.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Powered by Mazda Unofficial Race #1 Qualifying Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|13||80||Julian Van der Watt||1:21.878||1.3252|
|24||9||Dakota Dickerson||No Time||—|