By Steve Wittich
As I wrote in my season preview, Artem Petrov has the raw talent to contend for Indy Pro 2000 wins. It was strictly a question of whether Ricardo Juncos and his team could harness that potential.
The 20-year-old, who started the race on the inside of the second row, took the lead in The Carousel and led the final 11-laps to take home his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires victory in only his seventh start.
On the podium after the race, the Russian told Rob Howden.
“I didn’t really know if the car was going to be good, so I just sent it.
“The track was more or less the same as Race #1. We made some small changes, and it felt really good. I’m really happy.
“Thanks to the team, my family, and my friends that support me. Thank you!”
Finishing on the podium for the eighth time in his Indy Pro 2000 career, and fourth time in his last eight starts, was Sting Ray Robb.
The Idahoan started the race from the fifth spot, but patience mixed with great timing, allowed him to move up to the second spot.
Race #1 winner Danial Frost didn’t quite have the pace from the first race. The 18-year-old started the race on the outside of the front row, and took the lead for one lap after an early race caution, but couldn’t hold on to the top spot. His visit to the podium is the eighth in his Road To Indy career.
Devlin DeFrancesco led 14 of 15 laps in the opening race, was the biggest mover. The 20-year-old Andretti Steinbrenner Racing rookie finished fourth after starting ninth.
After getting the call to fire the 275 horsepower engines in the sixteen PM-18s, the drivers, with Manuel Sulaiman and Danial Frost leading the way, got the green flag.
The track remained green for only a few hundred yards before the yellow flag came out for a front-straight incident between Hunter McElrea and Parker Thompson, who had started fourth and sixth.
The running order as they crossed the line under the yellow flag for the first time was Sulaiman, Frost, Petrov, Robb, Kaminsky, Eves, DeFrancesco, Comeau, Loomis, de la Vera, Aranda, Cook, Finelli, Kaminsky, McElrea and Thompson.
The green flag came back out to start Lap 4. Sulaiman didn’t get a great start and lost the top spot to Frost by the time they entered Turn 1.
The running order at the end of the first green flag lap was Frost, Petrov, Sulaiman, Robb, Kaminsky, DeFrancesco, Eves, Comeau, de la Vara, Loomis, Aranda, Cook, Finelli, Kaminsky, McElrea and Thompson.
In The Carosaul on Lap 5, Petrov was able to get around Frost to lead his first Road To Indy laps.
As Petrov crossed the line to start the seventh lap, the lead to Frost was a slim 0.5 seconds. Frost had just turned the quickest lap of the race.
The front four of Petrov, Frost, Sulaiman, and Robb had a small gap upfront. Behind them, DeFrancesco, who led every lap of Race #1, had moved from his ninth-place starting spot up to fifth.
At just past the halfway point of the 15-lap race, Petrov’s lead over Frost was right at one second. Frost was being pressured by Sulaiman and Robb, with DeFrancesco behind them turning his quickest lap of the race to close in on the front four.
On Lap 10, reigning USF2000 champion Eves, turned the quickest lap of the race, moving to within striking distance of DeFrancesco.
The second yellow of the race came out when the Surgere/Hagarty sponsored No. 83 of Charles Finelli, got high-sided while battling with Kaminsky and Aranda.
The green flag came back out to start Lap 11, with Petrov getting a good start and getting through Turn 1 first. Behind him, Frost, Sulaiman, Robb, DeFrancesco, and Eves were going at it for the podium spots, going three and four wide into Turn 1.
The big loser in that battle was the DEForce Racing rookie Sulaiman, who spun on his own.
The Mexican driver was able to keep the engine fired but fell down the field to 12th.
On Lap 13, Robb, who started the race in fifth, was able to get past Frost for second place.
When the white flag came out, Petrov’s lead over his teammate was 1.4 seconds. Frost was putting pressure on Robb, but he also had to fight to keep DeFrancesco behind him.
Petrov crossed the line 1.7 seconds ahead of Robb. The closest battle was between Frost and DeFrancesco, with the first race winner crossing the line only three-tenths of a second ahead of the Canadian.
The top five after the first two races, as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for six straight races is as follows:
- Danial Frost —> 52
- Devlin DeFrancesco —> 46
- Sting Ray Robb —> 42
- Artem Petrov —> 39
- Braden Eves —> 37
- Colin Kaminsky —> 37
Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Road America Presented By Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 Results (unofficial)
|1||42||Artem Petrov||Juncos Racing||15-laps|
|2||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||1.7088|
|3||68||Danial Frost||Turn 3 Motorsport||2.7659|
|4||17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||3.1313|
|5||1||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||5.0152|
|6||19||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||6.7518|
|7||3||Antoine Comeau||Turn 3 Motorsport||8.7587|
|8||6||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||16.5595|
|9||69||Nate Aranda||Juncos Racing||17.0159|
|10||37||Sabre Cook||BN Racing with Team Benik||18.1506|
|11||8||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||22.2779|
|12||57||Bob Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||23.4778|
|13||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||66.1472|
|14||36||Jacob Loomis||BN Racing with Team Benik||– 5 LAPS|
|15||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||– 15 LAPS|
|16||9||Parker Thompson||DEForce Racing||– 15 LAPS|