The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship contenders, Braden Eves and Hunter McElrea, traded punches and best laps in Friday’s lone practice session before qualifying. But ultimately McElrea ended fastest to set the tone before qualifying later on Friday evening.

At 12:35 p.m. the 18 cars entered rolled for their first official practice of 25 minutes. Similar to the Indy Pro 2000 series, they also tested yesterday. Championship leader Eves led the quartet of Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17 cars out on course to begin the session.

A few cars took detours through the Festival Curves on their first flying laps after missing their braking points, but all resumed without incident.

Pabst Racing’s McElrea was first to dip into the 1:11s at 1:11.918, which broke up a logjam of three drivers within the same tenth at 1:12.1. Eves followed shortly thereafter at 1:11.990.

With a little more than 15 minutes remaining the red flag flew for Yuven Sundaramoorthy in his No. 21 Pabst Racing car coming onto the front straight. Sundaramoorthy dropped all four wheels off course entering Turn 12 and his left side tires and rear wing collected the tire barrier before coming to rest on the front straight. Sundaramoorthy got out under his own power with the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team there immediately. He was sixth in the session prior to the incident, just over half a second off teammate McElrea atop the charts.

The session resumed with 10 minutes to go after a five-minute red flag. However with five minutes to go, Jack William Miller was stopped on course at pit out. The Miller Vinatieri Motorsports driver had had a rough session with only a handful of laps turned, none representative on pace. This brought out the second red flag of the session. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Tam brought Miller back to pit out and the session resumed after a quick minute and a half stoppage.

Just before the red, Eves got back ahead of McElrea with a lap at 1:11.793. But that didn’t hold.

In their final laps, McElrea got down to a 1:11.541 to edge Eves at 1:11.647. A couple others also dropped into the 1:11 bracket, including Manuel Sulaiman of DEForce Racing and Zach Holden of Legacy Autosport.

The USF2000 qualifying from 5:10 to 5:30 p.m. PDT tonight concludes Friday’s on-track activity.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Practice

P No Name Team FTime Diff Laps
1 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:11.591 –.—- 14
2 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:11.616 0.0247 15
3 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:11.966 0.3747 13
4 14 Zach Holden Legacy Autosport 1:11.990 0.3992 14
5 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:12.117 0.5261 14
6 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:12.122 0.5310 13
7 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:12.138 0.5470 14
8 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:12.185 0.5937 13
9 4 Jak Crawford Cape Motorsports 1:12.225 0.6338 15
10 91 Eduardo Barrichello DEForce Racing 1:12.267 0.6755 14
11 5 Josh Green Jay Howard Driver Development 1:12.379 0.7881 14
12 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:12.386 0.7952 15
13 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:12.445 0.8535 6
14 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 1:12.803 1.2118 14
15 73 Kyle Dupell Newman Wachs Racing 1:13.203 1.6121 14
16 77 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport 1:13.372 1.7812 13
17 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.722 2.1305 14
18 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 2:02.160 50.5686 4