By Steve Wittich
Prescott Campbell, a DEForce Racing sophomore, utilized an on-track pass for the lead to become the fourth straight newbie to win a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race. That string dates back to St. Petersburg, Fla. in 2020 and includes Kiko Porto, Christian Brooks, Yuven Sundaramoorthy.
After a Lap 5 pass, the 20-year-old held off his teammate and pole-sitter Nolan Siegel, who finished on the second step of the podium. It was Siegel’s third career USF2000 podium.
“It’s hard to put this into words, I’m just ecstatic to finally get this done,” said Campbell, the 2019 Lucas Oil Formula Car Series champion. “I qualified P2 for race one, P2 in race two, finished P2 in Race One, so I was really hungry to go one better and I finally got it done. I ran a clean race, no mistakes, and that was the difference. With the aero wash, it’s hard to pass here so it takes a mistake to change position when you’re that close, but I’m gutted for Nolan. Huge thanks to the team, they gave us the best car this weekend as evidenced by my teammates’ performance as well – and thanks to my parents, they’re the ones who have gotten me here, and my sponsors as well.”
Joining Campbell and Siegel on the podium for the second time in as many races, was Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), who moved up three spots after starting sixth.
“I gave it a good fight in Race One but it’s so hard to pass in the aero wash here, and it’s easy to make a mistake – there are a lot of places that if you touch a wheel, you’re off,” explained Pabst Racing sophomore and double podium driver Pierson. “Not putting a wheel wrong in the race under pressure was tough, but in the end, neither Yuven nor Prescott made any mistakes. I wish I could have gone for the victory, but there’s always next time. Michael (d’Orlando) pushed me pretty hard in the beginning and I enjoyed that. In Race Two, I feel as though I was the only car really making moves out there and I enjoyed that as well. I wasn’t able to do anything in the end but I had good pace and a good run – and a double podium on the day, so it’s a great way to start the season.”
Rounding out the top five were Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), making the evening race the second straight with an all-veteran top five. After a thrash by the No. 99 Force Indy crew, Myles Rowe came home in sixth, the highest finishing rookie.
The trip to the USF2000 victory lane is the second for DEForce Racing.
Campbell is the second Lucas Oil Formula Car Series champion to win a race, joining Reece Gold.
The race featured 95 on-track overtakes, with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Jackson Lee leading that category with a dozen on-track passes. The 18-year-old also gained the most places during the race, gaining nine spots.
The top current top five in USF2000 points after the race are:
- Prescott Campbell – 56 points
- Josh Pierson – 44 points
- Yuven Sundaramoorthy – 43 points
- Nolan Siegel – 37 points
- Christian Brooks – 34 points
Of note from race #1, Jay Howard Driver Development driver Bijoy Garg was disqualified. The second-year driver originally finished 14th but was found to violate Rule 14.31.1., which states –
The minimum Car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, Drivers weight and meet the
(a) All Events – 1260 pounds.
The second Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama was initially scheduled to get the green flag at 3:50 pm but was delayed did not get started until after NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying.
The all DEForce Racing front-row of Siegel and Campbell brought the field onto the front straight. The 26 starters were strung out, and the start was waved off. With sunset set for 7:19 pm, the clock began immediately.
The running order at the end of the first lap under was Siegel, Campbell, Porto, Pierson, Rowe, Green, Christie, Brooks, Nepveu, Denmark, d’Orlando, Frazer, Kohlbecker, Sundaramoorthy, Castro, Sikes, Vodanovich, Lee, Garg, Stamer, Round-Garrido, Vaccaro, Navarro, Palmer, Evans, and Burke.
As the field got to Charlotte’s web on the second green flag lap, the No. 6 of Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development) spun in Turn 5 (it looked like he had help) and was hit by the No. 16 Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), who climbed over the front of Garg. That incident necessitated the yellow flag.
With all of the rubber from INDYCAR qualifying, the track was quite slick, which was noticeable in the race lap times, which were one-second slower than the morning races.
When the green flag came back out to begin lap five, the top ten were Siegel, Campbell, Pierson, Porto, Green, Rowe, Brooks, Christie, Nepveu, and Denmark.
On the first lap back to Green, Campbell took the lead for the first time in his USF2000 career. Campbell was quickly under pressure, and when the top four crossed the line to start lap seven, the top four were separated by under one second.
As the field was shown the crossed flags of the 20-lap race, Campbell had a 0.4 second lead over his teammate Siegel. Pierson, Porto, and Brooks – who had just passed Green.
Campbell’s lead over Siegel with five laps remaining was a half-second, but the top 11 were nose-to-tail and running within five seconds of the lead.
With two laps remaining, Siegel was continuing to pressure Campbell, holding a slim three-tenths-of-a-second lead.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #2 results
|1||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||LAP 20|
|2||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||-0.5419|
|3||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||-0.8875|
|4||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||-1.1882|
|5||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-1.7256|
|6||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||-2.3801|
|7||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||-4.2601|
|8||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||-5.2277|
|9||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-5.3509|
|10||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-5.4912|
|11||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Cape Motorsports||-5.7958|
|12||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||-6.5932|
|13||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||-7.1204|
|14||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||-9.8148|
|15||90||Grant Palmer||Exclusive Autosport||-10.476|
|16||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||-13.6728|
|17||20||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||-14.1107|
|18||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||-14.6863|
|19||19||Andre Castro||Legacy Autosport||-21.6675|
|20||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||-71.1599|
|21||3||Evan Stamer||Cape Motorsports||-1 LAPS|
|22||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||– 8 LAPS|
|23||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||-8 LAPS|
|24||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||– 18 LAPS|
|25||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||– 18 LAPS|
|26||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||– 18 LAPS|