For the fifth time this season, Kyle Kirkwood will start on the pole for a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda race.
If Kirkwood can win both races this weekend, he’ll tie J.R. Hildebrand’s season win mark at a dozen. Today, the 2018 Champion bested a Hildebrand record, Kirkwood’s fastest lap of 1:10.958 seconds, bettered Hildebrand’s track record from 2006 by 1.79 seconds.
Pabst Racing sophomore Kaylen Frederick will start on the first frow for the sixth time in last seven races.
Rasmus Lindh, Igor Fraga, and Lucas Kohl who are battling for second in the championship will start in the third, fourth and fifth spots.
The final track activity at a crowd filled Portland International Raceway was the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda qualifying session that began promptly at 4:15 PM.
The 18 drivers entered in the lowest rung on the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder this weekend had 20 minutes of running time.
Early on it was Kyle Kirkwood, who locked up the USF2000 crown at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course one month ago that led the way.
Pabst Racing split their strategy, sending out Lindh and Calvin Ming early and leaving Kohl and Frederick on pit road until the second half of the session.
Lindh grabbed the provisional pole nine minutes into the session and was still in possession of it at the half-way point of the session. Lindh will start third, the ninth straight race that the young Sweedish driver will start in the first two rows.
Kirkwood had the second quickest lap and was followed by newcomer Braden Eves, Calvin Ming and Julian Van der Watt in the top five.
With five minutes remaining, Lindh and Kirkwood turned quicker laps separated by only a tenth-of-a-second.
With just over three minutes remaining Fraga moved to second just ahead of Kirkwood.
That didn’t last long as Kirkwood was able to go quicker the next time he crossed the timing located just before Turn 10.
On his next lap, the Jupiter, Fla. native was the first driver to go under the 71-second mark, turning a lap at 1:10.958.
The Pabst Racing duo who used the alternate strategy of sitting on pit road, Frederick and Kohl, will start second and fifth.
Newcomer Eves was impressive, qualifying in sixth place in his series debut. Kellen Ritter, the other first time USF2000 competitor, will start on the outside of the eighth row.
The second USF2000 qualifying session will roll off at 9:15 AM and the first race of the weekend will get the green flag at 1:10 PM.
USF2000 Qualifying # 1 – Unofficial Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|8||80||Julian Van der Watt||1:11.528||0.5694|