By Tony DiZinno
At a track where experience is generally rewarded, 10 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship veterans placed in the top 11 spots in the lone 30-minute practice session this weekend at St. Petersburg.
DEForce Racing started out strong with Brazilian Kiko Porto topping the timesheets around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. Porto, who won his maiden USF2000 race here at the rescheduled 2020 date last October, was the only driver to break into the 1:12 bracket (1:12.9311) in the No. 12 Tatuus USF-17. This occurred on his fifth of 12 timed laps.
Matt Round-Garrido was second in the No. 92 Exclusive Autosport entry, 0.1966 of a second in arrears, ahead of Michael d’Orlando in the No. 4 Cape Motorsports entry, ensuring three different teams in the top three.
Barber Race 2 winner Prescott Campbell was fourth in the No. 11 DEForce car with Christian Brooks, the other 2020 St. Pete race winner, listed fifth in the No. 44 Exclusive entry. Brooks and Nolan Siegel, a Barber polesitter in another DEForce entry, appeared to have transponder issues during the session as Brooks’ time wasn’t listed until the final minutes and Siegel’s wasn’t listed at all.
Tenth-placed Spike Kohlbecker, one of the quartet of Cape drivers, was the only freshman to break through into the top 10 on the streets in this session. The driver of the No. 5 Cape car was 0.7641 of a second off Porto’s pace.
The 26 cars entered need to get up to speed quickly and avoid the biting St. Petersburg walls that tend to eat USF2000 cars over the years.
One team that got bit by the walls was Jay Howard Driver Development. This team arrived at St. Petersburg in October 2020 having wrapped the USF2000 championship with Christian Rasmussen, but the return to the streets in the spring brought struggles to start the weekend.
Peter Vodanovich brought out the red flag 13 minutes into the session, as his No. 9 JHDD entry contacted the wall in Turn 9. Vodanovich was 11th at the time of incident, the last of 11 listed cars within a second behind Porto at the top of the charts.
The session briefly resumed with 9 minutes remaining, only for it to go red again just after the restart with a second JHDD car in the barriers. This time it was the No. 8 car of Jackson Lee in Turn 8. The son of the NBC Sports broadcaster Kevin Lee was 16th at time of incident.
Next up is qualifying for Race 1 later today at 12:15 p.m. ET, followed by a second qualifying at 3:30 p.m. ET.
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:12.9311||1:12.9311||12|
|2||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||1:13.1277||0.1966||14|
|3||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:13.2221||0.2910||13|
|4||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||1:13.2377||0.3066||14|
|5||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:13.3096||0.3785||3|
|6||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||1:13.4064||0.4753||14|
|7||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:13.5303||0.5992||13|
|8||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.5405||0.6094||13|
|9||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:13.5663||0.6352||14|
|10||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Cape Motorsports||1:13.6952||0.7641||13|
|11||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||1:13.7267||0.7956||12|
|12||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:13.8034||0.8723||8|
|13||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||1:13.9805||1.0494||14|
|14||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||1:14.0954||1.1643||14|
|15||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||1:14.1292||1.1981||12|
|16||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:14.2514||1.3203||14|
|17||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:14.3536||1.4225||9|
|18||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:14.3555||1.4244||13|
|19||90||Grant Palmer||Exclusive Autosport||1:14.5287||1.5976||14|
|20||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:14.5621||1.6310||14|
|21||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:14.5640||1.6329||14|
|22||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||1:14.6577||1.7266||12|
|23||3||Evan Stamer||Cape Motorsports||1:14.6669||1.7358||13|
|24||19||Andre Castro||Legacy Autosport||1:14.6843||1.7532||13|
|25||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:14.8471||1.9160||14|
|26||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||No Time||—||—|