Veteran drivers were the story of the 2020 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season, but it was rookies that stole the headlines in the final race weekend.
Christian Brooks, an Exclusive Autosport rookie, joined Saturday’s winner, DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto, as the only freshman to win this season.
Brooks’ green to checkered flag win is the 20-year-olds first trip to victory lane and his third visit to the podium in 2020.
Joining Brooks on the podium was Saturday’s race winner, DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto, and Pabst Racing veteran Eduardo Barrichello.
With his ninth podium of the season, Barrichello clinched second place in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship standing.
Rounding out the top five were Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) and 2020 USF2000 champion Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development).
One quick note from yesterday’s race – after being involved in a Lap 1, Turn 1 incident on Saturday, the No. 21 Pabst Racing machine, who was scheduled to start seventh, could not take the start on Sunday morning. Also missing the start was Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport).
The call to start the 2.0L engines powering the 20 USF2000 cars was given at 9:29 am.
The skies were sunny, and the temperature was already 78F with a sticky 87% humidity.
After one lap behind the Road To Indy pace-car, the front row of Porto and Brooks brought the field to the green flag.
Pole sitter Brooks got the jump on Porto and was the first car to arrive in Turn 1. The rest of the field got cleanly through Turn 1 and, after going three-wide in Turn 4, completed the first lap cleanly.
The running order after the first lap was: Brooks, Porto, Barrichello, Rasmussen, d’Orlando, Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing), Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), Matthew Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Gil Molina (DEForce Racing), Michael Myers (Legacy Autosport), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development),
d’Orlando, who started ninth, moved to fourth place, passing Rasmussen in Turn 1 on Lap 2.
On Lap 6, Molina, who was running 15th, spun in Turn 1. The DEForce Racing newcomer was able to get the No. 11 re-fired and continue keeping the track green.
Brooks had a comfortable lead, but with a non-functioning transponder, was not showing up on the timing screens.
On Lap 10, Shields once again had a mechanical issue, coming to a stop on the track between Turn 9 and Turn 10. The Aussie had been running fifth.
The running order under yellow was Brooks, Porto, Barrichello, d’Orlando, Rasmussen, Gold, Round-Garrido, Miller, Campbell, Brichacek, Green, Dupell, Siegel, Sikes, Myers, Garg, Bogle, Molina, Shields (out), Sundaramoorthy (DNS), and Pierson (DNS).
Brooks led the field back to green to start Lap 13 with Porto tucked under the Exclusive Autosport race car’s gearbox. Brooks used the middle of the track defensively, holding the Race #1 winner behind him.
Further back in the field, Round Garrido was able to get passed Gold, who fell from fifth to eighth, also losing spots to Miller and Campbell.
With five laps remaining, Porto was still hounding Brooks but had company. d’Orlando and Rasmussen were hounding the Race #1 winner.
Over the next three laps, Porto continued to hound Brooks, but with two laps remaining, Brooks was able to pull a three-car length gap over the DEForce Racing driver. Porto was starting to get immense pressure from his friend Barrichello.
Brooks received the white flag four car lengths ahead of Porto and completed the final lap cleanly, grabbing his first win of the season.
USF2000 Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg Presented By Cooper Tires
|1||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||20 laps|
|2||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||-3.3055|
|3||22||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing||-4.3753|
|4||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-5.4972|
|5||6||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||-5.701|
|6||23||Matt Round-Garrido||Pabst Racing||-6.8908|
|7||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-8.9005|
|8||1||Prescott Campbell||Exclusive Autosport||-9.9167|
|9||3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||-10.2072|
|10||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||-10.5462|
|11||2||Josh Green||Cape Motorsports||-10.9695|
|12||9||Nolan Siegel||Jay Howard Driver Development||-11.853|
|13||20||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||-12.4741|
|14||8||Kyle Dupell||Cape Motorsports||-13.194|
|15||24||Michael Myers||Legacy Autosport||-15.5326|
|16||11||Gil Molina||DEForce Racing||-15.7927|
|17||18||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||-18.1236|
|18||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||-18.9941|
|19||10||Cameron Shields||DEForce Racing||– 12 LAPS|
|20||21||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||DNS|
|21||16||Josh Pierson||Exclusive Autosport||DNS|