By Steve Wittich
If you aren’t paying attention to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championship yet, this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course would be a great time to start.
There is currently a quartet of multiple race-winning drivers that are separated by a slim 35 points.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires standings with seven races remaining
|1||Rasmus Lindh – R||237|
|3||Kyle Kirkwood – R||205||-32|
|4||Danial Frost – R||202||-35|
|5||Sting Ray Robb||173||-64|
|7||Phillippe Denes – R||118||-119|
|8||Kory Enders – R||116||-121|
|9||Moisés de la Vara||114||-123|
|10||Jacob Abel – R||106||-131|
|11||Antonio Serravalle – R||105||-132|
|12||Ian Rodriguez- R||93||-144|
|14||Jacob Loomis – R||48||-189|
|15||Damiano Fioravanti – R||22||-215|
|16||Parker Locke – R||20||-217|
Current points leader Lindh has been the most consistent of the foursome, building a 30 point lead over Parker Thompson. The Juncos Racing rookie does not outright lead the series in victories, poles, or laps led. However, the Swedish driver does lead all drivers with seven podiums and has not finished worse than fourth all season. So far, a master class in being consistent.
“Of course winning is always the objective, but this is a long season that often rewards consistency,” said championship contender Parker Thompson. “After winning the first two races in St. Petersburg, I’ve been reminded often how important that consistency is. With Abel Motorsports, we’ve made a lot of headway this year. One single performance isn’t going to earn us the title. If our group can continue in the direction that we’ve been headed over the last couple of weekends though, then I’m very excited about our chances.”
Lindh made three USF2000 starts at the central Ohio circuit last year, grabbing one podium. He was the second quickest driver at the recent Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course open test.
A scant five points separate Thompson, Kyle Kirkwood, and Danial Frost with three events remaining on the calendar.
Thompson has one win, four podiums and eight top-fives in ten Road To Indy races on the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course. The Canadian has finished on the podium the last four times the series has been on track but is looking for his first win since a pair of trips to victory lane in the season-opening race weekend.
Kirkwood has climbed to the top step of the podium in his three previous Road To Indy starts at ‘Mid-O.” The 20-year-old also has three F3 Americas Championship Powered By Honda and two F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda on the historic road course.
Kirkwood is the hottest driver over the past five races, winning three times and scoring 137 points going back to the race in May at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval.
Indy Pro 2000 points scored over the past five races.
|1||Kyle Kirkwood – R||137|
|2||Rasmus Lindh – R||128|
|3||Danial Frost – R||117|
|5||Sting Ray Robb||90|
|6||Ian Rodriguez- R||77|
|8||Kory Enders – R||73|
|9||Phillippe Denes – R||70|
|10||Moisés de la Vara||61|
|11||Antonio Serravalle – R||59|
|12||Jacob Abel – R||55|
|14||Jacob Loomis – R||28|
Other storylines to follow this weekend
Jacob Abel, who is foregoing an F3 Americas Championship Powered By Honda weekend at Virginia International Raceway, has made five USF2000 series starts at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He had a trio of solid 11th place finishes last year. The 18-year-old finished the recent open test with the sixth quickest time, only three-tenths off his more experienced Abel Motorsports teammate Parker Thompson.
The Louisville, Kentucky driver is due for a breakout weekend, and with his past Road To Indy experience at the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course, this could be the weekend.
Will testing results carry over?
Exclusive Autosport rookie Danial Frost led the combined timesheet during a two-day series open test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course a few weeks ago. Frost led the way with a lap of 76.2167. His championship rivals were all within a three-tenths of the 17-year-old. Rasmus Lindh (twice), Parker Thompson (twice) and Kyle Kirkwood joined Frost as drivers that led one of the six sessions on the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.
A new team, Turn 3 Motorsport along with driver Antoine Comeau will both be making their series debut this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Comeau and Turn 3 Motorsports will be contesting the remainder of the Indy Pro 2000 rounds this year, in preparation for a full-season campaign in 2020.
Comeau, a Canadian with an impressive resume developed racing Radicals, has completed an extensive testing program in the team’s No. 3 PM-18 to prepare for this new adventure.
Experienced Road To Indy racer and engineer Peter Dempsey leads Turn 3 Motorsport’s effort into Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The Irishman won ten times in two seasons of Indy Pro 2000 action, before spending parts of three seasons in Indy Lights. Dempsey, who lives in the Chicago, Ill. area has also spent time as a race engineer with Juncos Racing and DEForce Racing.
“It’s great to be back to being a part of the Road to Indy ladder,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “Antoine (Comeau) has been working really hard over the past year to adapt to the Indy Pro 2000 car. We had a very successful test here at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago, and I’m really looking forward to using that as a platform to keep improving throughout the weekend.”
“Antoine has done a fantastic job in the Radical Cup this year,” continued Dempsey. “Joining the Indy Pro 2000 series presents a new challenge for him. We are looking to build on this weekend and finish out the rest of the 2019 season to compete in a full season campaign in 2020.”
Some Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course history
The middle rung of the Road To Indy, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires Series will contest a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader on the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course. It will mark the 18th and 19th races at “Mid-O” for the series.
Indy Pro 2000 winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
|2018 Race #2||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing|
|2018 Race #1||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing|
|2017 Race #3||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports|
|2017 Race #2||Victor Franzoni||Juncos Racing|
|2017 Race #1||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports|
|2016 Race #2||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports|
|2016 Race #1||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports|
|2015 Race #2||Neil Alberico||Cape Motorsports|
|2015 Race #1||Santi Urrutia||Team Pelfrey|
|2014 Race #2||Garett Grist||Andretti Autosport|
|2014 Race #1||Nicolas Costa||Team Pelfrey|
|2013 Race #2||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport|
|2013 Race #1||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport|
|2006||Ryan Justice||Northwest Autosport|
|2005||Rafa Matos||Ocean Tomo Racing|
|2004||Michael McDowell||Star Race Cars|
|2002||Guy Cosmo||Racers Edge Motorsports|
Juncos Racing is the only team active team that has won at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Drivers representing the Speedway, Ind. team have three race wins, including two by Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) last year.
The team also has four poles at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, leading all teams. The only other active team with a pole win is BN Racing.
The Ricardo Juncos led team also has more podiums at ‘Mid-O’ than any other team. Timothy Buret, Diego Ferreira, Victor Franzoni, Robert Megennis, Will Owen, and VeeKay have combined for 13 podiums.
The pole-sitter has won 13 of 17 races. The furthest back a winner has started was fourth (Santi Urrutia in 2015). The average starting position of the winner is 1.8.
The only time the pole-sitter has failed to finish a race was in Race #2 last year, when David Malukas suffered a mechanical feature. The average finishing position of the pole-sitter is 2.8.
The previous 17 races have occurred over ten seasons, and the eventual series champion has won at least one race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in six of those years.
Race weekend basics
Race name: Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
Race #1 length: 25 laps or 40 minutes
Race #2 length: 25 laps or 50 minutes
Qualifying Record:70.9428 seconds by Santi Urrutia in 2016
Race Record: 71.5804 seconds by Jack Harvey in 2015
Each entry can utilize three new sets of Cooper Tire slicks as well as one set of used/scuffed tires from the race weekend in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Drivers failing to slow at least 15% in a timing sector with a local yellow will be subject to a two-place grid spot penalty.
Drivers who fail to heed the checkered flag at the end of a session will receive a two-grid spot penalty.
To avoid a red flag and penalty (see below) during qualifying, you must park your disabled vehicle in a safe area (determined by the race director)
Causing one red flag during a session will result in a driver losing their fastest lap.
Causing a second red flag during the same session will wipe out all of drivers laps, and they will be parked for the remainder of the session
Driver points are distributed as follows: 30 – 25 – 22 – 19 – 17 – 15 -14 – 13 – 12 – 11 – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – an additional one point will be awarded to the pole sitter, to the driver who leads the most laps, and to the driver who turns the quickest race lap.
Watch last year’s races.
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