For the fourth straight race to start the 2020 USF2000 season, it was Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore Christian Rasmussen that drove his JHDD, CSU|One Cure/ Lucas Oil sponsored No. 6 into victory lane.

For the second straight race, fellow sophomore Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) started on the outside of the front row, and this time he was able to hold that spot through the first lap and was able to keep Rasmussen in his sights, improving one place from his third-place finish in Wednesday’s race.

Rounding out the podium was another sophomore and first-time podium visitor. Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development) was able to perfectly defend 20 laps to stand on his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium.

The first of two Thursday USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders races rolled off at 11:30 am with a front row of Rasmussen and Gold bringing the field to the green flag.

The 20 drivers were clean on Lap 1, and the running order and when they crossed under the starter to complete lap #1 was: Rasmussen, Gold, Siegel, Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Cameron Shields (Legacy Autosport), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Max Kaeser (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Ayrton Ori (Legacy Autosport) and Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport)

The running order at the end of the first lap was: 6 3 9 44 23 21 40 8 7 2 20 1 12 22 5 18 4 41 41 27 16

The most significant early mover was Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), who had gained three spots over the first two laps.

At the start of Lap 3, Gold was still within 0.8 seconds of the leader and was pushing hard. The front pair had pulled a gap of 2.5 seconds over third-place Siegel, who was defending against Brooks, Round-Garrido, Sundaramoorthy, and Dupell.

On Lap 4, Brooks looked to the inside of Siegel into the Keyhole, but the Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore was able to hold onto the spot, getting a better run down to Turn 4 and holding the final spot on the podium.

To start Lap 5, Rasmussen’s lead had grown to 1.5 seconds over Gold. On the next lap, Gold set the quickest lap of the race to that point, moving a little closer to the leader. Rasmussen reset the fast lap on the next lap, extending his lead again.

Siegel was almost four seconds behind Gold, but after the immense pressure of the opening laps, he built just over a one-second gap to Brooks. Round-Garrido was hassling the Exclusive Autosport driver.

Rasmussen’s lead over Gold when the crossed-flags were shown to signify the 20 lap race’s halfway point was 2.5 seconds. Siegel was 4.7 seconds behind Gold, with Brooks, Round-Garrido, Sundaramoorthy, Dupell, Miller, Green, and Shields rounding out the top ten.

On Lap 10, Miller was battling the Cape Motorsports duo of Dupell and Green. Contact was made in the Turn 5, Turn 6, and Turn 7 portion of the track. Miller was forced to pit road with damage to his front wing.

The yellow flag was shown to the field on Lap 12 for the No. 5 of Brichacek, who had an issue in Turn 11 and the No. 27 of Ayrton Ori, who spun in Turn 9.

The running order under yellow was Rasmussen, Gold, Siegel, Round-Garrido, Brooks, Sundaramoorthy, Dupell, Green, Shields, d’Orlando, Barrichello, Bogle, Campbell, Garg, Kaeser, Peirson, Miller, Porto, Ori and Brichacek.

The Road To Indy pace car pulled off the track, and the green flag came back out to begin Lap 16.

The battling in the top 10 on the first back to green was fierce, but all the drivers were able to hold their positions.

On Lap 17, Round-Garrido was forced to play defense against Brooks. Also involved in that battle was Sundaramoorthy.

1.5 seconds 2 remaining – Seigel pressured by Round Garrido and Brooks

On the final lap, Round-Garrido took a look inside of Siegel in Turn 4, but the 15-year-old was able to hold off Round-Garrido to grab his first career podium.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Unofficial Results

1 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 20 LAPS
2 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 2.2147
3 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 5.6285
4 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 6.1497
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 6.4809
6 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 6.8883
7 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 7.3741
8 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 7.8007
9 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 8.1408
10 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 8.4539
11 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 8.8217
12 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 9.2542
13 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 10.1769
14 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 11.5581
15 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 11.9504
16 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 12.6219
17 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -1 LAPS
18 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing -2 LAPS
19 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport -9 LAPS
20 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -11 LAPS