DEForce Racing driver Cameron Shields led the lone USF2000 practice session in St. Petersburg behind the wheel of the Valkyrie Intel sponsored No. 10 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

DEForce Racing’s Cameron Shields, with a lap timed at 73.485 seconds, led the lone USF2000 practice session that saw the top 13 drivers all within one second of the Aussie.

The first Road To Indy action got underway 225 days to the hour that the St. Petersburg, Fla. event was promptly halted due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Since that memorable day, the bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires has contested 15 races at six events and crowned Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) as the champion.

That practice session in March was led by three-time USF2000 race winner Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing). You can read that session report here: Eduardo Barrichello and Pabst Racing lead first USF2000 session dominated by veterans

The 23 cars entered in the USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Andersen Racepark took to the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit at 11:05 am for a lone 30-minute practice session.

The red flag came out with nine minutes remaining for an incident involving newcomer Gil Molina (DEForce Racing) in Turn 9. The Monterey, Mexico native had just turned his quickest lap of the session, the 10th fastest of the field.

Molina’s DEForce Racing teammate Cameron Shields, with a lap timed at 74.827 seconds, was the quickest of the drivers, with most drivers completing five or six laps.

The rest of the top 10 were Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Rasmussen, Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Barrichello, Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport), Michael Myers (Legacy Autosport) and Molina.

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team cleared Molina’s No. 12, and the green flag came back out at the half-way point of the half-hour session.

With ten minutes remaining, Shields was knocked off the top of the timing screens by first Barrichello and then Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport).

Brook and Barrichello went back and forth for the next five minutes as the only drivers with laps under 74 seconds.

Shields and Gold were the next drivers to turn laps in the 73-second range and with three minutes left in the
the session, the top 13 were all within a second of Brooks.

Times continued to fall late in the session, but a few late flyers were thwarted when the red flag came out for the No. 4 of d’Orlando, who had an incident in Turn 9.

The field completed a total of 329 laps.

Shields’ quickest lap was a little under a tenth-of-a-second quicker than Barrichello’s fastest lap in March.

USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Andersen Racepark Practice #1 Results.

1 10 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:13.485 –.—- 17
2 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:13.494 0.0095 11
3 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:13.538 0.0535 18
4 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:13.640 0.1549 19
5 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:13.693 0.2080 18
6 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:14.054 0.5696 17
7 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.093 0.6079 17
8 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:14.252 0.7667 18
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:14.307 0.8217 18
10 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:14.308 0.8226 18
11 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:14.330 0.8450 18
12 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:14.369 0.8844 18
13 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:14.460 0.9750 18
14 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:14.645 1.1597 18
15 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:14.749 1.2642 17
16 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.095 1.6101 18
17 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.101 1.6157 18
18 24 Michael Myers Legacy Autosport 1:15.181 1.6958 11
19 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.410 1.9250 16
20 11 Gil Molina DEForce Racing 1:15.973 2.4881 4
21 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.658 5.1732 2

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy will be back in action at 2:35 pm for qualifying.