By Steve Wittich – TSO Ladder
The top seven on the points table are still mathematically eligible to win the championship. Unfortunately, Hunter McElrea, Parker Thompson, and Manuel Sulaiman are ‘essentially’ eliminated.
If a dozen drivers start the final four races, the lowest point total leader Sting Ray Robb can score is 367. If McElrea wins all four races and scores every bonus point available, the Pabst Racing Kiwi would have 366 points.
DeFrancesco gained eight points in Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix at NJMP Race #1, leaving him trailing Robb by 41 points. With four races remaining, the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing rookie needs to score on average 10.25 points more than the Juncos Racing veteran.
If the pair were to finish in the same two spots as Saturday’s race in the four remaining races, Robb would win the scholarship by nine points.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points standings with four races left.
|1||Sting Ray Robb||331|
|2||Devlin DeFrancesco – R||290||-41|
|5||Hunter McElrea – R||234||-97|
|7||Manuel Sulaiman – R||219||-112|
|8||Colin Kaminsky – R||175||-156|
|9||Braden Eves – R||163||-168|
|11||Moisés de la Vara||142||-189|
|14||Nate Aranda – R||85||-246|
|16||Jacob Loomis – R||76||-255|
|18||Kody Swanson – R||60||-271|
|19||Sabre Cook – R||47||-284|
Indy Pro 2000 randomness
- Devlin DeFrancesco scored the maximum available points in NJMP Race #1; it is the third time a driver has scored ‘max’ points in 2020.
- Race #1 was the seventh caution-free Indy Pro 2000 race of the year.
- Sting Ray Robb and Artem Petrov are the only drivers to complete all 385 laps this season.
- Sting Ray Robb is the only driver to finish in the top ten in all 13 races in 2020.
- Devlin DeFrancesco led 25 laps, leaving him with 94 laps led in 2020, only four laps behind leader Sting Ray Robb.
- Devlin DeFrancesco had the quickest race lap, the seventh different driver to accomplish that in 2020.
- Jacob Abel made his sixth start of the season in NJMP Race #1; he’s finished an impressive 19 places higher than he’s started in those races.
- Andretti Autosport, DEForce Racing, and Juncos Racing are tied for the team lead with three poles each.
- Juncos Racing leads all teams with 13 podiums. Andretti Steinbrenner Racing, DEForce Racing, and Pabst Racing are tied for second with six visits to the podium.
If Rasmussen were to miss the last four races of the season, the top six drivers are still mathematically alive in the championship hunt.
If Rasmussen starts the last four, and each of those has 18 entries, the fewest points the Dane can score is 324. That would eliminate Matthew Round-Garrido in sixth, leaving the top five still able to win the championship.
Rasmussen outscored Gold by 19 points in NJMP Race #1, leaving him with a 33 point advantage with four races remaining. If you divide the 34 points (Gold needs to score one more point due to Rasmussen holding the edge in win count backs) deficit by four races, Gold needs to outscore Rasmussen by 8.5 points per race.
Saturday’s race winner, Eduardo Barrichello, moved to within 42 points of Rasmussen but will need to continue to win races if he wants to catch Rasmussen.
In the top 10 on the points table, the only change was Matthew Round-Garrido moving to sixth ahead of Josh Green.
On Saturday, the most significant points gainer was Prescott Campbell, who used a fifth-place finish to move from 15th to 13th.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points table with four races remaining.
|5||Christian Brooks – R||220||-92|
|7||Josh Green – R||179||-133|
|9||Jack William Miller||163||-149|
|10||Kiko Porto – R||140||-172|
|13||Prescott Campbell – R||112||-200|
|16||Wyatt Brichacek – R||85||-227|
|17||Max Kaeser – R||79||-233|
|18||Bijoy Garg – R||72||-240|
|19||Simon Sikes – R||49||-263|
|20||Josh Pierson – R||46||-266|
|21||Ayrton Ori – R||31||-281|
|22||Nico Christodoulou – R||23||-289|
|23||Michael Myers – R||19||-293|
- Eduardo Barrichello scored all 33 points available, the first time he’s completed that feat all season.
- The Pabst Racing duo of Matthew Round-Garrido and Eduardo Barrichello are the only drivers to complete all 289 laps contested in 2020.
- Michael d’Orlando stood on the podium for the fifth time in 2020 and the third time in the last four races.
- NJMP Race #1 was the fifth race of the 2020 season that Eduardo Barrichello has led.
- NJMP Race #1 was the sixth USF2000 race with zero cautions.
- NJMP Race #1 was the third USF2000 race of the season with no DNFs.
- Christian Rasmussen had the second quickest lap of the race. The Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore has had the fastest or second fastest lap of the race in 10 of the 13 race this season.
- Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development) has now finished nine straight races in the same or higher spot than he started. Throughout those races, he’s finished 36 places higher than he’s qualified.
- Exclusive Autosport rookie Christian Brooks has eight top-five finished in the last ten races.
Like the previous Road To Indy triple headers, each entry receives four sets of new Cooper Tire slicks.
Entries are allowed to use one carry-over set of tires during the lone practice session, but those must be turned in after that session.
That leaves five – two qualifying and three race – sessions for the four sets of new tires. That makes management of said rubber crucial.
Do you run two sets of fresh tires in the first qualifying session, or hold a set back for later in the weekend? Do you start Race #1 on new tires, and only save one set for qualifying #2?
“With the triple header, we had the choice to run on new or used tires, and we decided to go out on used, and it looks as though Devlin went with freshly scrubbed new tires,” explained Sting Ray Robb, who finished second in Indy Pro 2000 race #1. “Props to him, he drove great, especially on the newer tires, but I think we did a good job to get second. We had a good pace, so going into qualifying tomorrow morning, we’ve got two new sets of tires we can look forward to in addition to perhaps some rain racing. Who knows what will happen; no one has run here in the rain. Huge thanks to the Juncos crew. We blew a motor yesterday, and they had to hustle to get me back in the car, with little time in the car until the final session. But 41 points, I’m not too worried. I’m ready to get out there tomorrow.”
As Robb mentioned, rain on Sunday is a possibility, so teams must also consider it.
The 57th Sports Car Club Of America Runoffs are taking place at Road America this weekend; there quite a few of Saturday’s races featured names familiar to Road To Indy fans.
Clint McMahan, a one-time USF2000 competitor, won the Formula 500 race.
The Formula Continental division featured several recognizable names. Race winner Robert Allaer made a couple of USF2000 starts in 2016. Second place finisher Simon Sikes contested the last two USF2000 rounds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Formula F (F1600/Formula Ford) had a few familiar drivers finish on the podium. Sikes finished second in his second category, and Bob Perona finished third. Perona is a driver coach with Pabst Racing and also for the Meyer-Shank Racing INDYCAR program.
Formula X is a new category for Star Formula Mazda machinery and was won by Jacob Loomis. The Texan made seven Indy Pro 2000 starts earlier this season.