For the 10th time race in a row, Cape Motorsports rookie Kyle Kirkwood stood on the top step of the podium. It’s the 11th win of the year for the 19-year-old moving him one win closer to tying J.R. Hildebrand’s season-long series record of a dozen.
Behind Kirkwood, chaos and excitement was the order of the day.
After running in fourth for most of the race, Igor Fraga took advantage of mistakes by Rasmus Lindh and Kaylen Frederick to grab his fourth podium of the season. The second place finish moves the Japanese born Brazilian driver into second place in the driver’s championship, two points ahead of Lindh and 17 points ahead of Lucas Kohl.
Calvin Ming was one of the more significant movers of the weekend, finishing on the podium after starting ninth.
The first of the six Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races on the docket for the Grand Prix of Portland weekend got underway a little over 20 minutes late due to a chaotic Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race that preceded the 25-lap race.
The front two rows were four wide going into Turn 1, with Kirkwood making it to the corner just ahead of the other three drivers. Just as Frederick, who started on the outside of the first row, was about to turn in for the first corner, he was tapped from behind by his teammate Lucas Kohl.
Frederick was forced to go straight on, but was able to get back on track and was quickly back up to third.
As that action was happening, Lindh was able to get by Kirkwood in Turn 4.
Lindh led the first lap, but Kirkwood was able to go back to the lead at the first corner of Lap 2.
The field settled in for the next few laps, but just at the beginning of Lap 5, Julian Van der Watt and Kohl made contact at the entrance of Turn 2. The Pabst Racing No. 22 of Kohl got the worst of the battle, spinning and falling down the field out of the top 10.
The lead remained steady at just under a second. Lindh was pushing Kirkwood hard while looking for his first win, with the American locking up the brakes headed into The Festival Turns.
At the halfway point of the race, Kirkwood’s lead was still just under eight-tenths of a second. Lindh had the same edge over teammate Frederick. The front three had checked out over fourth place Fraga. Ming had moved up to fifth from his ninth place starting spot. Enders, newcomer Eves, Dickerson, McDonough, and Kohl.
Kohl was able to get around McDonough for ninth, and the BN Racing driver was immediately under pressure from Julian Van der Watt and Colin Kaminsky.
On Lap 18, the No. 80 Team Pelfrey driver Van der Watt and the No. 27 DEForce Racing car of Kaminsky made contact in Turn 2 after Kaminsky clattered over the curbs. Those two were able to continue, but Kaminsky was given a drive-thru penalty for avoidable contact.
Unfortunately, Bruna Tomaselli became high-sided on the curb at the inside of Turn 2 bringing out the lone caution on Lap 19.
The green flag came out with four laps remaining and Pabst Racing teammate Frederick and Lindh went to the outside and inside of Kirkwood. However, both drivers waited too late to brake for the right-hander at the end of the front straight.
Kirkwood showed great patience, allowing Frederick to fly by him on the inside before turning in for the corner.
Their mistakes moved Lindh back to fifth and Frederick to eighth, promoting Fraga and Ming to the final two spots on the podium.
USF2000 Race #1 – Unofficial Results
|11||80||Julian Van der Watt||25||9.0778|