By Steve Wittich
If the final Indy Pro 2000 practice is any indication of just how entertaining the series could be in 2021, fans are in for a lot of fun.
Manuel Sulaiman led the way with a lap of 77.3783 seconds. Still, the bigger story is that the following four drivers – Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), Enzo Fittipaldi (RP Motorsport), and Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing) were all within one-tenth-of-a-second (0.1) of the top spot. The top eight drivers were all within a half-second of Sulaiman.
With 50 minutes left in the final Indy Pro 2000 session of spring training, the red flag came out for the No. 51 of Jacob Abel, who was off course in Turn 8.
When the green flag came back out with 45-minutes remaining in the session, only seven of the 17 drivers had turned laps. The quickest of the bunch was DEForce Racing rookie Shields.
After missing the last session due to damage obtained in the third session, Sulaiman could get back out on track and quickly jumped to the top of the timing screen.
At the halfway point of the session, four drivers were still in the pit lane. Like we explained in the last USF2000 report, that’s not unusual when tires are at a premium. You don’t learn anything useful running around on tires that have more wear than they would ever get during a race.
Sulaiman was still the quickest driver, laying down a lap at 77.8003 seconds. That was only three-hundredths quicker than DEForce Racing rookie Cameron Shields. Also within a tenth-of-a-second of the top spot were Gold, Simpson, and Roe.
A new name, Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves, who is back on track officially for the first time since a scary incident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last year, turned a lap at 77.4410 seconds, over three-tenths-of-a-second ahead of Sulaiman.
With 20-minutes left in the session, the top seven drivers were all within a half-second of Eves and a tenth-of-a-second within Sulaiman in second.
Eves still held the top spot with 15 minutes remaining, followed by Juncos Racing teammates Sulaiman, Petrov, and Simpson in the top five.
With 13-minutes remaining in Road To Indy spring training, Simpson, who was on his 18th lap, moved to within one-tenth-of-a-second of Eves.
With ten minutes remaining, Sulaiman grabbed the top spot back from Eves. Also moving up was RP Motorsport rookie Fittipaldi, who moved into fourth.
Displacing the third-generation driver in the fourth spot with less than five minutes left in the test was the No. 55 Juncos Racing machine piloted by Gold.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires spring training at Barber Motorsports Park test session #5 timesheet.
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||22||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||1:17.3783||0.000||21|
|2||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||1:17.4410||0.0627||22|
|3||74||Enzo Fittipaldi||RP Motorsport USA||1:17.4473||0.0690||31|
|4||21||Kyffin Simpson||Juncos Racing||1:17.4635||0.0852||23|
|5||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Racing||1:17.6740||0.2957||21|
|6||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||1:17.8061||0.4278||15|
|7||3||James Roe||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:17.8145||0.4362||22|
|8||7||Cameron Shields||DEForce Racing||1:17.8373||0.4590||23|
|9||77||Enaam Ahmed||RP Motorsport USA||1:18.0180||0.6397||27|
|10||11||Hunter Yeany||Velocity Racing Development||1:18.1912||0.8129||23|
|11||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:18.2090||0.8307||25|
|12||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:18.5075||1.1292||29|
|13||20||Flinn Lazier||Legacy Autosport||1:19.0799||1.7016||15|
|14||1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||No Time||—||—|
|15||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||No Time||—||—|
|16||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||No Time||—||—|
|17||27||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||No Time||—||—|
The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will be officially back on track on Thursday, April 15, for testing at Barber Motorsports Park. The first race of the 2021 season is set to get the green flag on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at 11:10 am (central)
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A note about our presenting sponsor.
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Cooper Tires 2021 Spring Promotion runs through April 12 and has some great bargains. Click here to learn more and find out where to purchase your Coopers.