Kiko Porto on track at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The DEForce Racing rookie will start on the pole for Thursday afternoon’s first race. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

For the first time in his short four-race Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career, DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto in the Banco Daycoval/Petromega No 12, will start a race from the pole. The 17-year-old was one of only two drivers to crack the 86-second barrier turning a lap at 85.628 seconds.

That was just good enough to beat Cape Motorsports sophomore Reece Gold, who missed out on his first career pole by less than a tenth of a second. The just-turned 16-year-old will start his fifth straight race from the outside of the second row.

Almost a half-second behind Gold was Pabst Racing veteran Eduardo Barrichello, who had Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), championship leader Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Matthew Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing), and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) within 0.2 seconds of the second generation driver.

Rounding out the top 10 were Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) and Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports).

The 20-minute qualifying session began at 11:30 am, with the 22 car quickly heading out on the sun-bathed 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

The first driver to turn a lap at speed on their fresh Cooper Tire slicks was Rasmussen, but the early leader was local driver Miller, born in Indianapolis, Ind.

As the session started, the Cape Motorsports foursome, along with Exclusive Autosport’s Brooks, were still on pit road, waiting until later in the session to go out. Gold, d’Orlando, and Green took the track with about 12 minutes remaining.

Miller’s early time to beat was 1:26.124 seconds, and his time on the provisional pole wasn’t long as the morning practice leader Porto turned the first lap sub-86 second lap. The Brazilian was one of only two drivers to break that barrier in morning practice.

With eight minutes gone in the session, Exclusive Autosport’s Prescott Campbell had an off-track excursion in Turn 5 and Turn 6, but he kept going, and the track remained green.

Porto held the provisional pole at the halfway point of qualifying with Barrichello, Miller, Rasmussen, Round-Garrido, Sundaramoorthy, Gold, d’Orlando, Brooks, and Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development) rounding out the top 10.

At just past the session’s halfway point, Gold, on only his third lap, turned the quickest lap of the event so far, a lap timed at 85.727 seconds.

Many drivers were on pit road for changes while Gold set his quick lap, so times should start dropping.

With five minutes remaining, Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development) had an off in Turn 6, necessitating local yellow flags. The sophomore was able to keep going, and the track remained green.

The first driver to improve in the second half of the session was Porto, who took over the provisional pole with a lap of 85.628 seconds, a lap less than a tenth of a second ahead of Gold.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Indy Grand Prix qualifying results (unofficial).

1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:25.628 –.—-
2 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:25.727 0.0989
3 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:26.057 0.4289
4 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.093 0.4649
5 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.138 0.5096
6 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:26.231 0.6025
7 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:26.242 0.6140
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:26.244 0.6157
9 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:26.372 0.7438
10 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:26.405 0.7766
11 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.458 0.8299
12 10 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:26.461 0.8328
13 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.626 0.9975
14 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:26.696 1.0675
15 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.857 1.2289
16 24 Michael Myers Legacy Autosport 1:26.889 1.2607
17 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.920 1.2922
18 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:26.958 1.3300
19 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:27.028 1.3992
20 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:27.276 1.6479
21 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 7:08.497 5:42.8683

The remainder of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship schedule (all times EDT)

Thursday, September 3, 2020
2pm – 2:45pm – USF2000 Race #1 (15 laps)

Friday, September 4, 2020
8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
11am – 11:45am – USF2000 Race #2 (15 laps)
2:45pm – 3:30pm – USF2000 Race #3 (20 laps or 50 minutes)