By Steve Wittich
What the quickest driver of the day had to say:
“It’s been a very positive weekend,” said Juncos Racing sophomore Manuel Sulaiman. “We were super quick in the first session today and we were pushing the limits. I touched a bit of the grass and we weren’t able to finish that session. The team did a great job to get the car back out there for the final session and we were back at P1.
“We did a good number of laps this week, and all of that is good information for the first races of the year. These are my first days back in the car but I’ve adapted to the car and to the team very well. Juncos Racing has so much knowledge and they are so experienced, and I get along with everyone so well, so I’m really looking forward to the beginning of the season.”
- All seventeen drivers were below Parker Thompson’s three-year-old race track record at Barber Motorsports Park, but nobody could touch the Canadian’s qualifying record of 76.2967 seconds.
- The top six drivers on the combined timesheet were all within three-tenths of a second of each other. That group includes three veterans and three rookies.
- Seven teams – Juncos Racing (3), Pabst Racing (2), DEForce Racing (1), Exclusive Autosport (1), Jay Howard Driver Development (1), RP Motorsport (1) and Turn 3 Motorsport (1) – are represented in the top ten.
- One car outfits, Turn 3 Motorsport and DEForce Racing, had impressive showings with rookie drivers James Roe and Cameron Shields.
- With a pair of FIA Formula 3 veterans, RP Motorsport showed flashes of the pace that led the Italian team to the 2019 championship with driver Kyle Kirkwood. Enaam Ahmed finished second quickest in the fourth session, while Enzo Fittipaldi was third most rapid in the final session. Both of those sessions were in the heat of the day.
- The 17 drivers turned a total of 1,746 laps of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course. That equates to 4015.8 miles.
- Third-generation driver Fittipaldi completed 144 laps, more than any other driver.
The combined timesheet is up next, but before you get to that, can I say how excited I am for the Indy Pro 2000 title fight.
A half-second separated the top 13 drivers. That’s only 0.5 seconds over five hours of testing. In the 2020 edition of spring training, the top six drivers were covered by a half-second. It was only the top four drivers covered by a half-second in 2019.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires combined timesheet from all five test sessions
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||SESSION||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||22||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||3||76.8167||—||62|
|2||1||Christian Rasmussen – r||Jay Howard Driver Development||3||76.8310||-0.0143||73|
|3||21||Kyffin Simpson – r||Juncos Racing||3||76.8970||-0.0803||107|
|4||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||3||77.0060||-0.1893||93|
|5||3||James Roe – r||Turn 3 Motorsport||3||77.0551||-0.2384||108|
|6||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||3||77.0624||-0.2457||104|
|7||55||Reece Gold – r||Juncos Racing||3||77.1619||-0.3452||104|
|8||7||Cameron Shields – r||DEForce Racing||3||77.1707||-0.354||116|
|9||74||Enzo Fittipaldi – r||RP Motorsport||3||77.1984||-0.3817||144|
|10||27||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||3||77.2548||-0.4381||94|
|11||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||3||77.2846||-0.4679||112|
|12||77||Enaam Ahmed – r||RP Motorsport||3||77.2999||-0.4832||125|
|13||5||Wyatt Brichacek – r||Jay Howard Driver Development||2||77.3432||-0.5265||77|
|14||40||Jack William Miller – r||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||3||77.6680||-0.8513||127|
|15||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||3||77.7921||-0.9754||106|
|16||11||Hunter Yeany – r||Velocity Racing Development||2||77.8468||-1.0301||116|
|17||20||Flinn Lazier – r||Legacy Autosport||3||78.1255||-1.3088||78|
Averaging things out
Studying the combined timesheet and timesheets from individual sessions is only part of the story when predicting how a driver’s season could turn out.
With teams and drivers working on varying test programs across five one-hour test sessions, the outright pace isn’t always the goal. That is why it’s vital to average how a driver does across all five sessions.
When utilizing this method, TSO Ladder likes to drop the lowest finishing session because teams work on different items in sessions or might skip a session due to limited tires.
Here are a few observations:
- Despite only contesting 11 previous Indy Pro 2000 races in 2019, Jay Howard Driver Development has found the speed to compete in their private testing. Wyatt Brichacek led three of the five sessions, and while defending USF2000 champion Christian Rasmussen didn’t lead a session, he was quick every time his JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 was on track.
- Pabst Racing sophomore Hunter McElrea in the Giltrap Group/Doric NZ/Miles Advisory Partners sponsored No. 18 was highly consistent. The Kiwi ended three sessions with the fourth quickest time and one session with the fifth fastest time.
- Juncos Racing rookies Reece Gold and Kyffin Simpson were the models of consistency. Neither of the pair of 16-year-olds finished outside of the top ten in any session.
Christian Rasmussen’s transponder was inoperable during Sunday’s first session. We understand that he finished in the top three during that session, so we used three for that session.
Average placement in spring training sessions (worst finish is dropped)
|1||1||Christian Rasmussen -r||Jay Howard Driver Development||2.8|
|2||5||Wyatt Brichacek – r||Jay Howard Driver Development||4.0|
|3||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||4.3|
|4T||55||Reece Gold -r||Juncos Racing||4.5|
|4T||22||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||4.5|
|6||21||Kyffin Simpson – r||Juncos Racing||5.3|
|7||3||James Roe – r||Turn 3 Motorsport||6.3|
|8||74||Enzo Fittipaldi – r||RP Motorsport USA||6.5|
|9||27||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||7.0|
|10||77||Enaam Ahmed – r||RP Motorsport USA||7.3|
|11||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||8.0|
|12||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||8.3|
|13||7||Cameron Shields – r||DEForce Racing||8.5|
|14||11||Hunter Yeany -r||Velocity Racing Development||9.8|
|15||40||Jack William Miller – r||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||12.3|
|16||51||Jacob Abel – r||Abel Motorsports||14.0|
|17||20||Flinn Lazier – r||Legacy Autosport||15.3|