By Steve Wittich
For the first time in the team’s history, a pair of DEForce Racing drivers will lead a USF2000 series race to the green flag.
Cameron Shields, who was the quickest in the morning practice, backed up that speed in qualifying, grabbing his first career USF2000 pole.
Shields and teammate Kiko Porto, who will start on the outside of the front row, went quickest on their 13th and final laps of the 20-minute session.
The pole is the third of the USF2000 season and fourth overall in DEForce Racing’s history.
Starting right behind Shields is Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), who was within a tenth of a second of Shields and two-hundredths behind his best friend and fellow Brazilian Porto.
Rounding out the top five are Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport).
2020 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Series title winner Christian Rasmussen will start from the outisde of the third row, leaving him with some work to do if he wants to win his 13th career USF2000 race. A win this weekend would tie the Dane with Chip Ganassi Racing engineer Chris Simmons on the career totals list.
The Elite Engine prepared 2.0L engines powering the USF2000 field were fired for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Andersen Racepark qualifying.
The sun that drenched downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. in the morning was hiding behind cloud cover, but it was still warm. The ambient temperature was 85F, and the humidity was an oppressive 66%. Rain is forecast for later in the evening.
After most of the field had completed two laps, Rasmussen held the top spot with a lap at 73.511 seconds.
Brooks was the next driver to jump to the top of the timing screens holding that spot until first Rasmussen and then Barrichello turned the first sub-73-second laps.
Lowering the provisional pole with a lap at 72.837 seconds, just before the halfway point of the session was Gold. Brooks, Barrichello, Rasmussen, Shields, Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Matthew Round-Garrido (Jay Howard Driver Development), and Michael d’Orlando rounded out the top 10.
Gold still held on the provisional pole with five minutes left in the 20-minute session, with Brooks, Barrichello, Rasmussen, and Shields all within two-tenths of a second of the sophomore’s quickest lap.
With three minutes remaining, Porto turned his quickest lap of the session. That lap was within four -hundredths of a second of Gold.
With just over a minute left in the session, Barrichello grabbed the provisional pole away, but all 20 cars in the session were still on track.
That didn’t last long as Porto and Shields went quicker on their final laps of the session. The teammates were the only drivers to turn their fastest laps on their final laps.
USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Andersen Racepark Qualifying #1 Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFF.|
|1||10||Cameron Shields||DEForce Racing||1:12.632||–.—-|
|2||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:12.704||0.0723|
|3||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||1:12.731||0.0995|
|4||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||1:12.837||0.2054|
|5||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:12.964||0.3325|
|6||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:12.977||0.3451|
|7||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:13.132||0.5001|
|8||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:13.284||0.6520|
|9||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||1:13.290||0.6582|
|10||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.463||0.8312|
|11||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:13.509||0.8772|
|12||23||Matt Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||1:13.514||0.8819|
|13||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||1:13.563||0.9313|
|14||24||Michael Myers||Legacy Autosport||1:13.667||1.0350|
|15||16||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||1:13.769||1.1376|
|16||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||1:13.803||1.1709|
|17||20||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:13.897||1.2650|
|18||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.921||1.2897|
|19||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.927||1.2956|
|20||18||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:14.056||1.4238|
|21||11||Gil Molina||DEForce Racing||No Time||—|
The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track on Saturday morning for a second qualifying session at 9:30 am.