By Steve Wittich
For the sixth straight race, Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore driver Christian Rasmussen had a dominant drive to cross under the checkered flag first.
It’s the first win at Lucas Oil Raceway and on an oval for both Rasmussen and his team Jay Howard Driver Development.
It’s the Danish driver’s ninth USF2000 victory, giving him a series win % of 42.9%
For the fourth straight race, 15-year-old Reece Gold stood on the podium as he was able to hold off a charging Jack William Miller.
Miller, a sophomore driving for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports, stood on the podium for the first time in his Road To Indy career.
Rounding out the top five were Gold’s Cape Motorsports teammate d’Orlando and Exclusive Autosport rookie Christian Brooks.
The call to start the 19 Elite Engine prepared came from the voice of the Road To Indy, Rob Howden, at 6:41 pm.
For the third straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race, a front row consisting of Christian Rasmussen and Reece Gold brought the field to the green flag.
After an aborted start and yellow flag when Gold got too big of a jump on the pole-sitter Rasmussen, the green flag came out on the next lap as the drivers quickly realigned.
Rasmussen was able to get ahead of Gold as the field got cleanly through the first two corners at the south end of the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval.
The running order at the end of the first lap was: Rasmussen, Gold, d’Orlando, Josh Green, Jack William Miller, Matthew Round-Garrido, Christian Brooks, Eduardo Barrichello, Kyle Dupell, Nolan Siegel, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, Kiko Porto, Cameron Shields, Bijoy Garg, Christian Bogle, Max Kaeser, Wyatt Brichacek, Josh Pierson, and Prescott Campbell.
Gold put some early pressure on Rasmussen over the first three laps, but by the fifth lap, the Dane had been able to pull a 0.15-second lead.
The first nine cars quickly got into a single file, but behind them, the side-by-side action was furious, with Sundaramoorthy, Siegel, and Shields fighting over the tenth spot.
The most significant early mover was Josh Green, who went from his sixth starting spot to fourth.
At the ⅓ point of the race, Rasmussen’s lead over Gold was 0.9 seconds. The remainder of the top 10 was: d’Orlando, Green, Miller, Brooks, Round-Garrido, Barrichello, Dupell, and Sundaramoorthy.
All 19 drivers were on the lead lap with 25 of 75 done, but Rasmussen was starting to catch the tail of the 19-car field. On Lap 29, Rasmussen got by the first lapped car, the Exclusive Autosport rookie Josh Pierson.
The best battle in the middle third of the race was between Miller and Brooks for fifth place as they tried to pick their way through the traffic. The eventually went three-wide with Garg’s lapped car as the meat in the battle for the top five sandwich, but Miller was able to hold the spot.
At the ⅔ pole, Rasmussen had stretched his lead to 3.9 seconds over Gold. Gold only had a half-second lead over Gold, who had three seconds over his Cape Motorsports teammate d” Orlando. The remainder of the top ten was Green, Miller, Brooks, Round-Garrido, Duppel, Sundaramoorthy, and Barichello.
With 15 laps remaining, the gap between Rasmussen and Gold was 4.2 seconds. Gold had only a 0.2 second lead over his teammate. Gold was able to navigate traffic a little better and was able to build a more comfortable gap.
Further back, Josh Green got bogged down in lapped traffic, losing the fourth spot to Miller and Brooks’ fifth spot.
With five laps remaining, the lead-up front for Rasmussen was 6.9 seconds, who had lapped up to the 12th spot. Behind the leaders, Miller was able to get by d’Orlando for the final spot on the podium. Again, the second generation driver used traffic to get the pass completed.
Freedom 75 unofficial results.
|1||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||75-laps|
|2||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||-6.4997|
|3||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-6.8817|
|4||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-7.2151|
|5||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-7.4732|
|6||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||-12.0182|
|7||23||Matt Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||-12.866|
|8||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||-16.8135|
|9||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-19.4756|
|10||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||-22.5454|
|11||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||-22.7503|
|12||20||Cameron Shields||Legacy Autosport||-23.7572|
|13||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||-1 LAP|
|14||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||-1 LAP|
|15||41||Max Kaeser||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-1 LAP|
|16||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||-1 LAP|
|17||18||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||-1 LAP|
|18||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||-2 LAP|
|19||16||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||-2 LAP|