By Steve Wittich
The 2020 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season has featured close racing and a tight championship race, so it should come as no surprise that a vital qualifying session had the top three drivers separated by five-hundredths of a second.
Starting on pole and scoring a much-needed bonus point was Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore, Danial Frost. The 18-year-olds lap at 76.214 seconds ended up besting DEForce Racing’s Parker Thompson and Manuel Sulaiman by only 0.0415 and 0.0557 seconds.
It’s Frost’s first pole of the season, first pole at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Mid-Ohio), and the fourth in his Indy Pro 2000 career. It’s the first pole for the Peter Dempsey led Turn 3 Motorsport.
The second and third place starting spots for DEForce Racing are a significant improvement at MId-Ohio for the Texas-based team. Thompson qualified fourth, sixth, and tenth in the first three races at Mid-Ohio five weeks ago, while Sulaiman started fifth, seventh, and 11th.
Championship points leader Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing) will start from the outside of the second row. Robb’s closest championship contender Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing), will begin on the inside of row four.
The top seven drivers were all within a half-second, while the top 11 were all within one second of Frost.
The first of two Friday Indy Pro 2000 qualifying sessions for the Surgere Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio doubleheader got underway at 1:30 pm.
Early in the session, with 20-minutes of guaranteed qualifying time, it was Thompson and Sulaiman, that traded the top spot on the timing screen.
With seven minutes gone in the session, the Juncos Racing duo of Robb and Artem Petrov came to pit road for adjustments and sticker Cooper Tires.
Just before the session’s halfway point, Hunter McElrea and then Frost took over the provisional pole.
When the Pabst Racing driver set his quickest lap, the four DEForce Racing cars, along with DeFrancesco, were in pit road for adjustments and fresh rubber.
After 10 minutes, Frost, with a lap of 76.434 seconds, held the provisional pole. McElrea, Sulaiman, Thompson, and Kaminsky made up the rest of the top five. At the halfway point, championship contenders Robb and DeFrancesco were in the sixth and ninth spots.
With just over five minutes remaining in the session, the red flag came out. The Slick Lock sponsored No. 19, Colin Kaminsky, had an off in Turn 1. The Pabst Racing rookie nosed the car into the tire barriers. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to pull the car out of the tire barrier, and Kaminsky was able to drive back to the pit road with damage to the front wing.
Kaminsky’s teammate McElrea had just turned his quickest lap of the session, only nine-hundredths behind Frost.
When the red flag came out, the top ten were Frost, McElrea, Sulaiman, Thompson, Robb, Comeau, Petrov, de la Vera, DeFrancesco, and Enders.
The green flag came out with just over five minutes remaining in the session. Robb led the field back out on the track.
The first driver to improve on his time was Sulaiman, who turned a lap that was timed at only three-hundredths slower than Frost.
With just over a minute remaining in qualifying, Thompson grabbed the provisional pole. The Canadian’s hold on the pole only lasted a few seconds, when Frost grabbed the top spot back.
The duo traded quick laps again the next time they crossed the timing line just after Turn 10—their final laps of the session.
The middle rung of the Road To Indy is back on track at 4:10 pm for their second qualifying session of the afternoon.
Surgere Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Qualifying #1 unofficial results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFF.|
|1||68||Danial Frost||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:16.214||–.—-|
|2||9||Parker Thompson||DEForce Racing||1:16.255||0.0415|
|3||8||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||1:16.269||0.0557|
|4||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||1:16.375||0.1614|
|5||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||1:16.466||0.2527|
|6||42||Artem Petrov||Juncos Racing||1:16.720||0.5065|
|7||17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||1:16.774||0.5606|
|8||7||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||1:16.820||0.6061|
|9||6||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||1:17.031||0.8177|
|10||19||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||1:17.220||1.0064|
|11||3||Antoine Comeau||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:17.300||1.0861|
|12||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:17.322||1.1079|
|13||57||Bob Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||1:20.722||4.5079|
|14||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||1:22.797||6.5838|