By Steve Wittich
Christian Rasmussen, a Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore, visited the top step of the Road America podium for the second time in four hours. The Danish driver once again started on pole, led every lap, and turned the quickest lap of the race, scoring ‘max points’ again.
The victory is the fifth of Rasmussen’s short Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship career.
The 20-year-old was able to build a substantial lead, but behind him, the struggle for the podium was a good one between a pair of Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing drivers.
When he was asked by Rob Howden to sum up his “weekend” at Road America, he said:
“It was great. It’s been a great weekend for us. We had a great end to last season as well, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue that momentum.
“Now the focus shifts to (the) Mid-Ohio (Sports Car Course), and hopefully, we can do just as well there. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
When asked how many changes they had to make to the car, he explained:
“It’s small tweaks here and there. We have such a great package right now.”
This time, it was the Cape Motorsports drivers who came out the victors. Michael d’Orlando, an 18-year-old from Hartsdale, New York, snagged his first career Road To Indy podium, and Josh Green finished on the podium for the second straight race.
With Green’s podium in race #1, and the pair of podiums in race #2, Cape Motorsports now has 29 team podiums at America’s “National Park of Speed.”
“To come away from my rookie weekend on the Road to Indy with a double podium is all I could ever ask for,” said Cape Motorsports rookie Green. “Rasmussen was amazing today, so we’re just going to have to chase him down at Mid-Ohio. It’s just so good to be back racing again after all the months away; it was so long. We could do our own in-house races but it’s nothing like this. This was serious fun – it’s the first time I’ve raced this car up front and it was really cool.”
Matthew Round-Garrido and fellow sophomore Eduardo Barrichello, driving for local favorites Pabst Racing, rounded out the top five.
Similar to the earlier race, Rasmussen grabbed the lead as the field streamed to Turn 1. Also identical to the previous race, the field didn’t make it cleanly through the first lap.
This time, the drivers made it one corner further, with an incident in Turn 8 involving Christian Brooks and Wyatt Brichacek.
The running order when the drivers crossed under the yellow flag at the end of the first lap was: Rasmussen, Barrichello, Green, Round-Garrido, d’Orlando, Sundaramoorthy, Boggle, Shields, Miller, Campbell, Brichacek, Dupell, Siegel, Gold, Garg, Christodoulou, Pierson, Ori, Kaeser, and Brooks.
The green flag came back out to start Lap 3. For the fifth time today, Rasmussen got a great jump, quickly clearing his chasers by the time they got to Turn 1. Behind the leader, Green was able to get by Barrichello.
At the end of Lap 3, Rasmussen got a poor exit off the final turn, slowing his run up the hill. That allowed Green to get past Rasmussen as they crossed the line. That didn’t last long, as the Dane was able to go back to the lead. On the same lap, d’Orlando and Bogle were able to get by Round-Garrido for fourth and fifth.
Rasmussen crossed the line with 1.3 second lead over Green. The Team USA Scholarship winner was fighting hold onto that spot. Barrichello and d’Orlando were able to get by Green, who started to fall into the clutches of Round-Garrido.
While the drivers were battling behind him, Rasmussen was able to build a gap of 4.4 seconds as it reached its half-way point. Barichello was second but was facing pressure from the Cape Motorsports duo of d’Orlando and Green.
On the next lap, Green, d’Orlando, and Round-Garrido were able to get around Barrichello. Further back, Sundaramoorthy was making moves, taking the sixth spot.
Upfront, with four laps to go, the lead had grown to 7 seconds. Further back, Bogle and Shields were able to move past Sundaramoorthy.
Gold and Siegel, who had a first lap, first race incident, started 19th and 20th. Both were able to move up in the field. The 15-year-old Gold gained 12 spots to finish seventh. Siegel, from Palo Alto, Calif. earned six spots to finish 14th.
With two laps remaining, Rasmussen had an 8.1777 lead over Green. Green and the three drivers behind him were covered by less than two seconds. On lap 11, d’Orlando was able to get by his teammate to finish second.
As Rasmussen took the white flag, he saw the caution flag, with the race coming to an end with a hard crash in Turn 1. Josh Pierson, a rookie from Portland, Ore., went straight on through the gravel trap and into the tires. The 14-year-old got out his Exclusive Autosport car under his own power, sitting down of the side-pod.
The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was on the scene quickly to look after the young driver. He was placed on a stretcher. We’ll update this story when we hear something official from the series.
We did get word from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship that Pierson was checked, released and cleared to drive by INDYCAR medical. Great news!
The teams and drivers of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship are back in action with three races at a stand-alone event to be held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 29 and July 30.
The top five in points headed to Ohio are:
- Christian Rasmussen –> 65
- Josh Green –> 47
- Michael d’Orlando –> 42
- Eduardo Barrichello –> 39
- Matthew Round-Garrido –> 38
USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Presented By Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 Results (unofficial)
|1||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||12 LAPS|
|2||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||0.6251|
|3||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||1.6987|
|4||23||Matt Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||2.6226|
|5||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||3.1145|
|6||20||Cameron Shields||Legacy Autosport||3.7830|
|7||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||4.5512|
|8||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||5.1971|
|9||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||5.8705|
|10||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||6.4571|
|11||10||Nico Christodoulou||DEForce Racing||7.6753|
|12||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||8.7258|
|13||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||9.4650|
|14||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||10.1897|
|15||18||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||10.6896|
|16||27||Ayrton Ori||Legacy Autosport||11.6294|
|17||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||12.2329|
|18||41||Max Kaeser||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||12.8421|
|19||16||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||– 2 LAPS|
|20||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-12 LAPS|