For the 12th time during the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, a similar car and driver visited victory lane.
Kyle Kirkwood, who tied fellow Cape Motorsports driver J.R. Hildebrand’s record of a dozen USF2000 victories in a season. The 19-year-old Floridian started third and won his eighth race that he didn’t start on pole. An impressive feat.
“I got boxed in at the start; I couldn’t make a move to inside or outside,” said Kirkwood. I sat there for one lap… then had that caution. I made a move to outside after the restart; I’m not sure it was the best decision! Because Kaylen got into the back of Rasmus, and that pushed us both off into the access road. We held on to first and second. After that, I caught him up a bit, he made a defensive move into 1, crossed him up through 2, and barely had the defensive line going into 3. It was really close racing but it was awesome.”
Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh started on the pole for the third time this season and for the first race led a lap. The rookie didn’t win but did stand on the podium for the fifth time.
Team Pelfrey rookie Julian Van der Watt made some impressive passes on the way to his first Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium.
At precisely 3:30 PM, the final command of “Drivers start your ‘Mazda’ engines” ended the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires era that officially began in 2010.
It was 17-year-old Rasmus Lindh and his 16-year-old teammate Kaylen Frederick that led the field to the green flag to begin the 25 lap race, the final race of a successful Grand Prix of Portland.
The first five drivers were able to make it through Turn 1 cleanly, but behind them Braden Eves, Jose Sierra and Igor Fraga who started in 6th, 7th and 8th attempted to go three-wide into Turn 1 with only Fraga coming out the other side. Eves and Sierra both bounced over the curbs at corner exit. Sierra was able to continue to the pits but was forced to retire.
Unfortunately, Eves came to a stop on the side of the track, necessitating a full course caution to retrieve the wounded No. 44 Newman Wachs Racing machine.
As the field took the yellow flag at the end of the first lap, the running order was Lindh, Kaylen Frederick, Kirkwood, Lucas Kohl, Kory Enders, Igor Fraga, Van der Watt, Calvin Ming, Colin Kaminsky, Dakota Dickerson, Kyle Dupell, Russell McDonough, Oscar DeLuzuriaga, Max Peichel, Bruna Tomaselli, Kellen Ritter, Jose Sierra (out) and Braden Eves (out).
Lindh led the field into Turn 1 on the Lap 3 restart, but he was hit from behind by his Pabst Racing teammate Frederick. Lindh made an impressive save of a sideways car but was forced through the run-off with his teammate and Kyle Kirkwood, who smartly avoided the Pabst Racing on Pabst Racing crime by not turning into Turn 1.
The trio came out of the run-off ahead of the field, but Frederick had a damaged wing and was also immediately given a penalty for avoidable contact.
Laps 4, 5, 6, 7 saw a terrific battle between Van der Watt and Fraga for the fourth spot, with the South African and Brazilian trading the place twice before the Team Pelfrey rookie made the final pass on Lap 8.
On the same lap, and just ahead of that battle, Kirkwood made a daring pass Lindh around the outside of Turn 4. Holding off a charge by the Swedish rookie for the rest of the lap before almost tagging the wall at the exit of Turn 12 just before beginning Lap 9.
For the next ten laps, Lindh was able to remain close to the 2018 USF2000 champion, but over the last half-dozen laps, Kirkwood was able to pull away to end up winning by almost 2 seconds.
With five laps remaining Van der Watt executed a textbook Turn 1 pass of Kohl for the final spot on the podium.
That fight allowed Fraga to enter the picture and the No. 91 Exclusive Autosport machine was able to get by the No. 22 Pabst Racing on the outside of Turn 1 just after taking the white flag.
USF2000 Race #2 – unofficial results
|3||80||Julian Van der Watt||25||15.5287|
|15||24||Kaylen Frederick||22||3 LAPS|
|16||82||Bruna Tomaselli||18||Off Course|