Hunter McElrea joins Rinus VeeKay and his engineer Tonis Kasemets as USF2000 winners at Pabst Racing’s home track, Road America.
It’s McElrea’s first win, after starting the season with four podiums in his first five races.
After the race, McElrea shared a huge embrace with team owner Augie Pabst and told us that getting his first win was “like having an elephant, no two elephants off my back.”
McElrea was able to get around his teammate and pole sitter Colin Kaminsky on the third lap. Veteran driver Kaminsky kept in touch with McElrea, to collect his second straight podium finish and best career finish at his home track.
Kaminsky was disappointed but still satisfied when we talked with him after the race. The 19-year-old REALLY wants to win a race, but second place is also his best career finish.
The winner of the last race, Cameron Shields started sixth, finished the first lap in fifth and was able to pass a pair of drivers to move onto the podium.
The front row of Kaminsky and Alexandre Baron brought the field to green after a single pace lap.
Kaminsky got the jump on Baron, who appeared to get bogged down headed up the hill to the green flag. McElrea was also able to get by Baron, who entered Turn 1 with Darren Keane. It didn’t work well for either driver as they both fell to the back of the 18 car field.
The running order at the end of the first lap was: Kaminsky, McElrea, Rasmussen, Sulaiman, Shields, Eves, Barrichello, Sundaramoorthy, Jak Crawford, Bruna Tomaselli, Jack William Miller, Nolan Siegel, Anthony Famularo, Christian Bogle, Darren Keane, Matthew Round-Garrido and Alexandre Baron, who was forced to pit road.
Keane was able to recover to 12th, passing Bogle on the final lap.
McElrea popped to the outside of his teammate as they crossed the line to start the second lap, but was not able to make the pass on that lap.
On the next lap, McElrea waited until later down the front straight before making his move. This time the Soul Red No. 22 moved the inside and was able to complete the pass.
On Lap 5, Rasmussen, who was running in third was passed by Sulaiman, Shields and Eves, dropping to the sixth spot.
Lucas Oil Raceway oval winner Shields was able to get by Sulaiman for the final spot on the podium in Turn 5.
Sulaiman lost another spot, this time to Eves, in Turn 1 on the next lap.
At the halfway point of the race, McElrea lead over his teammate was just under two seconds. Kaminsky’s gap to Shields in third was just over three seconds.
With three laps remaining the lead had grown to 3 seconds. Further back, Rassmussen, Tomaselli, and Crawford were having a good tussle for sixth place. On lap 10, Crawford was able to get past Tomaselli for the seventh spot.
Even further back, Barrichello, who was running ninth, lost a pair of spots to Gold and Sundaramoorthy.
With two laps remaining, Miller and Siegel made contact in Turn 5, the bright red No. 40 of Miller spun, and Siegel was forced wide.
Later in that lap, Crawford and Rasmussen, who were fighting for sixth, made contact in Canada Corner with the No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development car of Rasmussen making contact with the concrete barrier on driver’s left and ending up in gravel on the outside of Turn 12.
Crawford was penalized 30-seconds post-race for avoidable contact, which should drop him from seventh to 13th.
On the final lap, Sundaramoorthy was able to get around Gold to make half of the top eight cars from the Pabst Racing stable.
At the white flag, the lead had grown to 3.9 seconds, and the American born Kiwi finished off his first win by crossing under the checkered flag 3.532 seconds ahead of Kaminsky.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Elite Engines USF2000 Race #1 Unofficial Results.
|1||22||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing|
|2||23||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||3.5352|
|3||73||Cameron Shields||Newman Wachs Racing||4.3421|
|4||8||Braden Eves||Cape Motorsports||4.8401|
|5||12||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||7.0456|
|6||24||Bruna Tomaselli||Pabst Racing||15.3371|
|7||52||Jak Crawford||DEForce Racing||16.0134|
|8||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||20.4097|
|9||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||20.6873|
|10||41||Eduardo Barrichello||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||21.5012|
|11||36||Nolan Siegel||Newman Wachs Racing||34.7268|
|12||2||Darren Keane||Cape Motorsports||35.5221|
|13||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||36.3606|
|14||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||37.8142|
|15||27||Matt Round-Garrido||BN Racing||57.5158|
|16||28||Anthony Famularo||BN Racing||69.6448|
|17||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||-2 LAPS|
|18||14||Alex Baron||Legacy Autosport||-5 LAPS|
The second USF2000 race of the weekend rolls off bright and early at 8 am tomorrow.