Over the next week and a couple of days, a 2.258-mile, 13-Turn road course will help determine the favorites to win the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship title and generous advancement scholarship that goes with it.
The lowest rung on the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is set to contest their 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th, and 60th series races at the Lexington, Ohio road course between now and August 9th.
The 180 points on offer in the six races equate to a little more than a third of the points on offer for the entire season.
There is an excellent chance that the season-long champion will win one of the six races. Last year’s champion Braden Eves was only the fourth eventual champion that did not win a race in the 21 previous seasons that USF2000 has competed at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Previous Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
|2019 Race #2||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||1|
|2019 Race #1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||2|
|2018 Race #3||Kyle Kirkwood||Cape Motorsports||2|
|2018 Race #2||Kyle Kirkwood||Cape Motorsports||2|
|2018 Race #1||Kyle Kirkwood||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2017 Race #2||Parker Thompson||Exclusive Autosport||1|
|2017 Race #1||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2016 Race #3||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2016 Race #2||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2016 Race #1||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2015 Race #3||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2015 Race #2||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2015 Race #1||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2014 Race #3||Florian Latorre||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2014 Race #2||Jake Eidson||Cape Motorsports||6|
|2014 Race #1||RC Enerson||Team E Racing||2|
|2013 Race #3||Garett Grist||Andretti Autosport||1|
|2013 Race #2||Neil Alberico||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2013 Race #1||Neil Alberico||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2012 Race #2||Scott Anderson||Belardi Auto Racing||1|
|2012 Race #1||Spencer Pigot||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2011 Race #2||Petri Suvanto||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2011 Race #1||Petri Suvanto||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2006 Race #4||JR Hildebrand||Cape Motorsports||2|
|2006 Race #3||JR Hildebrand||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2006 Race #2||JR Hildebrand||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2006 Race #1||JR Hildebrand||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2005 Race #4||Jay Howard||Aiken Racing||2|
|2005 Race #3||Joey Foster||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2005 Race #2||Jay Howard||Aiken Racing||2|
|2005 Race #1||Jay Howard||Aiken Racing||1|
|2004 Race #4||Adam Pecorari||Andersen Walko Racing||1|
|2004 Race #3||Adam Pecorari||Andersen Walko Racing||1|
|2004 Race #2||Adam Pecorari||Andersen Walko Racing||5|
|2004 Race #1||Andre Prendeville||Andersen Walko Racing||2|
|2003 Race #4||Jonathan Bomarito||PR1 Motorsports||2|
|2003 Race #3||Jonathan Bomarito||PR1 Motorsports||1|
|2003 Race #2||Westley Barber||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2003 Race #1||Tonis Kasemets||Pabst Racing||2|
|2002 Race #3||Ross Fonferko||Cape Motorsports||5|
|2002 Race #2||Bryan Sellers||Cape Motorsports||1|
|2002 Race #1||Tonis Kasemets||Pabst Racing||3|
|2001 Race #3||Jason LaPoint||Richard Morgan Racing||1|
|2001 Race #2||Doug Bell||Cape Motorsports||2|
|2001 Race #1||Tonis Kasemets||Tonis Kasemets||1|
|1999 Race #2||Jeff Wright||Cape Motorsports||4|
|1999 Race #1||Dan Wheldon||Primus Racing||2|
|1998 Race #2||David Besnard||Primus Racing||1|
|1998 Race #1||David Besnard||Primus Racing||1|
|1997||Zak Morioka||Hayes Motorsports||1|
|1996||Steve Knapp||Miller Miling/Elite Engines||1|
|1995 Race #2||Jeret Schroeder||2|
|1995 Race #1||Memo Gidley||Cape Motorsports||2|
|1993||Chris Simmons||SOTARE Racing||2|
TSO Ladder Five
1) Can anybody stop the dominant Dane?
Christian Rasmussen, a Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore, started the 2020 USF2000 season with a perfect weekend at Road America. The 20-year-old scored the maximum 66 points, starting on pole, leading all the available laps, and setting the fastest lap in each race.
That performance leaves Rasmussen with a 19 point championship lead as the series heads to the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course for six straight races.
2020 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points table
|2||Josh Green – R||47||-19|
|9||Prescott Campbell – R||20||-46|
|11T||Bijoy Garg – R||16||-50|
|13T||Christian Brooks – R||14||-52|
|13T||Ayrton Ori – R||14||-52|
|13T||Nico Christodoulou – R||14||-52|
|16||Jack William Miller||11||-55|
|17||Josh Pierson – R||10||-56|
|18T||Max Kaeser – R||9||-57|
|18T||Wyatt Brichacek – R||9||-57|
“Race wins are always the goal, but the main focus right now is to extend the points lead and continue being consistent and winning races,” said Rasmussen. “We are thinking championship, so that’s the most important thing right now. Mid-Ohio has always been good to me: I won there in F4 and won there again last year. It’s a very technical, flowing track and I love that. And the team has always been strong there so I’m looking forward to keeping the winning streak going. I need to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing. The team is doing a good job, and I’m doing everything I can away from the track to stay fit, ready and sharp. We’re on the right path and we want to stay that way.”
Rasmussen’s recent on-track prowess goes back to the middle of the 2019 season; he has five wins and nine trips to the podium in the last ten USF2000 races.
How has the Coppenhagen, Denmark native faired in his past visits to the demanding central Ohio road course?
Superb, and that might be an understatement. Rasmussen won his second career USF2000 start at Mid-Ohio last year, and in five races across USF2000 and the F4, United States Championship has three wins, two second-place finishes and has led a total of 40-laps.
The one hope that his competition has is Rasmussen’s results in official series testing at Mid-Ohio in June. The sophomore could only manage the 7th best time.
2) Will Cape dominance at Mid-O return?
Before last year, the last time that a Cape Motorsports driver didn’t visit victory lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was in 2004. The Brownsburg, Ind. team leads all of the pertinent categories at the Lexington, Ohio road course.
- Wins – 28
- Poles – 27
- Podiums – 55
The list of drivers who have podiums for Cape Motorsports includes six drivers who have made NTT INDYCAR® SERIES starts. Neil Alberico, Oliver Askew, Westley Barber, Matthew Brabham, Doug Bell, Dane Cameron, Wade Cunningham, Jake Eidson, Ross Fonferko, Joey Foster, Peter Gray, Memo Gidley, Scott Hargrove, JR Hildebrand, Trent Hindman, Nico Jamin, Kyle Kirkwood, Florian Latorre, Anthony Martin, Chris Meredith, Spencer Pigot, Bryan Sellers, Petri Suvanto, Aaron Telitz, Parker Thompson, Bobby Wilson, and Jeff Wright are the drivers that have stood on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course podium for Cape Motorsports.
Drivers representing the team led three of the four test sessions during the recent open test at Mid-Ohio. They ended the test with four of the top five spots on the combined timesheet, including the quickest lap of the test, set by Michael d’Orlando.
3) Start up front, finish up front
In the previous 54 USF2000 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the average starting position of the winning driver is 1.6. The driver starting on pole has won 62.9% (34 of 54) races and the the winner has come from outside of the front two rows on only five occasions. That includes a ten-race stretch between 2014 and 2018 where the pole sitter also visited victory lane.
If you need more proof that qualifying well on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course is essential – in the last 33 races, the eventual winner has started from outside the first row on a single occasion. In 2014, Cape Motorsports pilot Jake Eidson won a very wet race from sixth on the starting grid.
4) Making his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires appearance
Unfortunately, due to travel restriction brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazilian rookie Kiko Porto was forced to miss the season-opening pair of races at Road America.
The 16-year-old was able to re-enter the United States recently and will start his season with DEForce Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Porto spent the 2019 racing season with the Houston, Texas-based DEForce Racing and finished second in the season-long F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda championship. He also had some success at Mid-Ohio, winning once and finishing in the top ten in all three of his starts in 2019.
“I can’t say how happy I am to finally be able to go back and do my first race in USF2000,” said Porto. “All these months of expectation and uncertainty are left behind, and now all I want to do is get in the car and do my job. I will do my best to make sure our results make up for the time we lost due to the pandemic.”
5) Three other stories/drivers to watch
Pabst Racing sophomore Yuven Sundaramoorthy made his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship debut at Mid-Ohio in 2018, twice finishing in the top ten in his first series action.
The recent high-school graduate, a native of Oconomowoc, Wisc., made a total of eight F1600 Championship Series starts in 2017 and 2018, winning once and standing on the podium five times.
The 17-year-old showed a lot of pace during the Mid-Ohio weekend last year, starting the pair of races in third and fourth, and collecting his best finish of the season. A sixth place in Race #1.
TSO Ladder expects Sundaramoorthy to contend for podiums this week.
The Cape Motorsports quartet, consisting of Michael d’Orlando, Kyle Dupell, Josh Green, and Reece Gold scored four of the top five spots on the combined timesheet during a late June test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Rookie Green, with a pair of podiums at Road America, currently sits second in the championship, only five points ahead of d’Orlando, his sophomore teammate.
Green will be making his first Road To Indy starts at Mid-Ohio, but does have a win and a pair of podium finishes in three F1600 Championship Series races last year.
Eighteen-year-old d’Orlando has three USF2000, and three F4 United States Championship starts at Mid-Ohio, finishing in the top ten twice in each series.
“I have some great teammates and that helps, since we’re always pushing each other to get faster,” said d’Orlando, who posted the fastest time during a preseason test at Mid-Ohio last month. “We’re sharing information, so we don’t have to do it on our own – but that can be a hindrance as well because I know three other fast guys are learning the exact same things I am. That means I have to try just that little bit more to try and beat them.
“I’m super excited to get to Mid-Ohio. We learned so much from the test, so that’s good knowing we have six races there over the next two weeks. It’s a track I feel we’re strong at so I’m ready to go out and give it my all.”
Gold, who needs to put a disappointing Road America weekend in the rearview mirror, led one of the recent test session at the central Ohio track. Gold made two starts at Mid-Ohio last year, finishing ninth and 12th.
The fourth member of the Cape Motorsports squad, Kyle Dupell, has three previous starts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and was the fourth quickest driver during the recent open test.
TSO Ladder enjoys watching intra-team battles, and in just over a week, we should have a good idea which of the Cape Motorsports drivers has distinguished themselves as the team leader.
During the late June test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Jack William Miller was the only driver that was not part of the Cape Motorsports squad to crack the top five on the combined timesheet.
The 17-year-old Miller Vinatieri Motorsports ended the test with the third quickest lap and was the fastest driver during the third test session.7
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship combined timesheet
|RANIK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||81.8805||68|
|2||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||81.9810||-0.1005||67|
|3||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||82.1118||-0.2313||78|
|4||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||82.2840||-0.4035||49|
|5||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||82.3429||-0.4624||56|
|6||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||82.3527||-0.4722||51|
|7||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||82.4220||-0.5415||48|
|8||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||82.5953||-0.7148||74|
|9||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||82.6369||-0.7564||42|
|10||23||Matthew Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||82.7750||-0.8945||60|
|11||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||82.8110||-0.9305||72|
|12||18||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||82.8800||-0.9995||71|
|13||41||Max Kaeser||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||82.9691||-1.0886||77|
|14||20||Cameron Shields||Legacy Autosport||83.0816||-1.2011||66|
|15||10||Nico Christodoulou||DEForce Racing||83.1103||-1.2298||71|
|16||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||83.4712||-1.5907||56|
|17||90||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||84.8264||-2.9459||30|
|18||27||Courtney Crone||Legacy Autosport||85.0168||-3.1363||71|
|19||24||Michael Myers||Legacy Autosport||Inoperative transponder|
The second-generation driver has plenty of experience on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course, making three USF2000 starts last year, and six F4 United States Championship starts between 2017 and 2018.
The first three of six races could be the event that “JWM” takes that next step forward in his development.
|10:30am – 11am||USF2000 Practice #1|
|11:15am – 11:45am||Indy Pro 2000 Practice #1|
|1:30pm – 2pm||USF2000 Qualifying #1|
|2:15pm – 2:45pm||Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #1|
|4:30pm – 5:15pm||USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #1 (20 laps or 45 minutes)|
|5:30pm – 6:20pm||Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #1 (25 laps or 45 minutes)|
|8am – 8:30am||USF2000 Qualifying #2|
|8:45am – 9:15am||Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2|
|11:30am – 12:15pm||USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 (20 laps or 45 minutes)|
|12:30pm – 1:20pm||Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 (25 laps or 45 minutes)|
|3:15pm – 4pm||USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #3 (20 laps or 45 minutes)|
|4:15pm – 5:05pm||Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #3 (25 laps or 45 minutes)|
You can watch last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races here:
2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Race #1
2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Race #2
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