The championship battle between Hunter McElrea and Braden Eves in Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship action heated up as the sun set Friday evening at Portland International Raceway.
McElrea beat Eves to the pole position for the first of two races this weekend, as the Pabst Racing driver looks to catch and pass the Cape Motorsports driver for the points lead. Nine points down entering the weekend, McElrea will seek to close that gap following his fourth pole position of the season.
While Eves looked a potential polesitter after snatching the provisional top spot away from Jay Howard Driver Development’s Christian Rasmussen, McElrea responded by throwing down the gauntlet at 1:11.6752, his first of two laps eventually good enough for pole. It was a time nearly three tenths faster than either Eves or Rasmussen, who were both in the 1:11.9 bracket.
McElrea got even quicker with another lap at 1:11.5920 while Eves was able to make it to 1:11.7737, a tenth and a half shy of the top spot.
Behind the top three, the other impressive driver was 14-year-old Jak Crawford, in the RE/Max-supported No. 4 Cape Motorsports entry. Crawford briefly held the top spot before Rasmussen edged ahead. Either way, he’ll match his car number starting a season and career-best fourth place. His previous best was fifth on two occasions.
Colin Kaminsky rounds out the top five in the second of four Pabst cars. Of note, Yuven Sundaramoorthy made it back to eighth place in his repaired Pabst car following an accident in practice. Bruna Tomaselli in the fourth Pabst car starts 12th.
Slightly further down the order, Eduardo Barrichello qualified ninth in his first outing for DEForce Racing. Series debutantes Josh Green (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Ayrton Ori (Legacy Autosport) will roll off 15th and 17th, and sandwich series returnee Kyle Dupell in the second Newman/Wachs car.
USF2000 has two on-track sessions Saturday. Qualifying for Race 2 takes place at 9:05 a.m. PDT with Race 1 at 4:30 p.m. PDT.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Qualifying Race #1
|1||22||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||1:11.564||–.—-||11|
|2||8||Braden Eves||Cape Motorsports||1:11.704||0.1402||13|
|3||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:11.904||0.3399||15|
|4||4||Jak Crawford||Cape Motorsports||1:12.004||0.4400||14|
|5||23||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||1:12.136||0.5722||11|
|6||12||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||1:12.151||0.5869||13|
|7||2||Darren Keane||Cape Motorsports||1:12.152||0.5881||13|
|8||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:12.216||0.6515||14|
|9||91||Eduardo Barrichello||DEForce Racing||1:12.290||0.7262||15|
|10||14||Zach Holden||Legacy Autosport||1:12.309||0.7450||14|
|11||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||1:12.336||0.7715||14|
|12||24||Bruna Tomaselli||Pabst Racing||1:12.441||0.8762||14|
|13||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:12.570||1.0060||16|
|14||36||Nolan Siegel||Newman Wachs Racing||1:12.586||1.0214||16|
|15||5||Josh Green||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:12.720||1.1556||15|
|16||73||Kyle Dupell||Newman Wachs Racing||1:13.132||1.5675||16|
|17||77||Ayrton Ori||Legacy Autosport||1:13.397||1.8326||15|
|18||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.887||2.3231||15|