The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship heads to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for a trio of races on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. The 16th, 17th, and 18th time that the series will compete on the IMS circuit.
Cape Motorsports, who are still looking for their first win of the 2021 USF2000 season, are the most successful team over the event’s history.
The Brownsburg, Ind.-based squad has won ten of the 15 previous races held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. The team also leads all teams on the IMS road course with 11 poles, 19 podiums, and 166 laps led.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship winners on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
|2020 Race #3||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports|
|2020 Race #2||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing|
|2020 Race #1||Eduardo Barrichello||Pabst Racing|
|2019 Race #2||Braden Eves||Cape Motorsports|
|2019 Race #1||Braden Eves||Cape Motorsports|
|2018 Race #2||Alex Baron||Swan-RJB Motorsports|
|2018 Race #1||Kyle Kirkwood||Cape Motorsports|
|2017 Race #2||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports|
|2017 Race #1||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports|
|2016 Race #2||Parker Thompson||Cape Motorsports with /WTR|
|2016 Race #1||Anthony Martin||Cape Motorsports with /WTR|
|2015 Race #2||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports with /WTR|
|2015 Race #1||Nico Jamin||Cape Motorsports with /WTR|
|2014 – Race #2||Adrian Starrantino||JAY Motorsports|
|2014 – Race #1||Will Owen||Pabst Racing|
It’s probably early to pay too much heed to the championship standings, but that’s not going to stop us from mentioning them.
Exclusive Autosport sophomore Christian Brooks won both races on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., giving the Californian five career North American Junior Open Wheel race wins and a 23 point lead over Kiko Porto.
The points table is veteran heavy, with the top five and eight of the top ten spots being held down by series returnees.
2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points after four races
|1||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||97|
|2||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||74||-23|
|3||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||73||-24|
|4||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||69||-28|
|5||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||67||-30|
|6T||Spike Kohlbecker – r||Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports||54||-43|
|6T||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||54||-43|
|8||Billy Frazer – r||Exclusive Autosport||51||-46|
|9T||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||46||-51|
|9T||Matthew Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||46||-51|
|11||Thomas Nepveu – r||Cape Motorsports||45||-52|
|12||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||39||-58|
|13||Jace Denmark – r||Pabst Racing||38||-59|
|14||Myles Rowe – r||Force Indy||30||-67|
|15||Andre Castro – r||Legacy Autosport||27||-70|
|16T||Jackson Lee – r||Jay Howard Driver Development||26||-71|
|16T||Grant Palmer – r||Exclusive Autosport||26||-71|
|18||Dylan Christie – r||Turn 3 Motorsport||22||-75|
|19T||Ely Navarro – r||DEForce Racing||19||-78|
|19T||Erik Evans – r||Velocity Racing Development||19||-78|
|21||Peter Vodanovich – r||Jay Howard Driver Development||10||-87|
|22||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||9||-88|
|23||Kent Vaccaro – r||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||6||-91|
|24T||Evan Stamer – r||Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports||5||-92|
|24T||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||5||-92|
|24T||Trey Burke – r||Joe Dooling Autosports||5||-92|
|27||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||3||-94|
TSO Ladder’s quintet of stories/things to watch for this weekend
Saturday’s third USF2000 race will be the 400th since the series made its debut in 1990. Vince Puleo won a 22 lap race at Willow Springs International Raceway on April 22, 1990. One of four wins the Californian scored on the way to the 1990 championship.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has played host to an incredible 60 USF2000 races over 22 seasons; the only years that the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course has not hosted the lowest Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires rung was in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2010.
The breakdown by circuit type is:
- Road Course —> 283
- Street Circuit —> 59
- Oval —> 58
The breakdown by country is:
- USA —> 384
- Canada —> 16
Race #100 was won by Bruno Bianchi at the 1-mile New Hampshire International Speedway oval in 1996.
Race #200 was won by Andrew Prenderville at Mosport Park in 2004.
Race #300 was won by RC Enerson at Sonoma Raceway in 2014.
Who will win race #400?
USF2000 race locations sorted by who has hosted the most races
|Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (RC)||60|
|Road America (RC)||29|
|St. Petersburg Street Circuit (SC)||24|
|Road Atlanta (RC)||23|
|Lucas Oil Raceway Park (Oval)||19|
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway (RC)||18|
|Watkins Glen International (RC)||18|
|Sebring International Raceway (RC)||17|
|WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (RC)||17|
|Exhibition Place Street Circuit (SC)||16|
|Mosport Park (RC)||14|
|Barber Motorsports Park (RC)||10|
|Sonoma Raceway (RC)||9|
|Willow Springs International Raceway (RC)||8|
|Phoenix International Raceway (Oval)||7|
|Charlote Motor Speedway (Oval)||6|
|Portland International Raceway (RC)||6|
|Virginia International Raceway (RC)||6|
|Heartland Park (RC)||5|
|Lime Rock Park (RC)||5|
|New Jersey Motorsports Park (RC)||5|
|Phoenix International Raceway (RC)||5|
|Shannonville Motorsports Park (RC)||5|
|Trois-Rivieres Street Circuit (SC)||5|
|Baltimore Street Circuit (SC)||4|
|Cleveland – Burke Lakefront Airport (RC)||4|
|Mesa Marine Speedway (Oval)||4|
|New Hampshire International Speedway (Oval)||4|
|Des Moines Street Circuit (SC)||3|
|Homestead-Miami Speedway (RC)||3|
|Milwaukee Mile (Oval)||3|
|Walt Disney World Speedway (Oval)||3|
|Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oval)||2|
|Autobahn Country Club (RC)||2|
|Dallas – Reunion Arena Street Circuit (SC)||2|
|Firebird International Raceway (RC)||2|
|Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oval)||2|
|Houston – Reliant Park Street Circuit (SC)||2|
|Iowa Speedway (RC)||2|
|Lucas Oil Raceway Park (RC)||2|
|NOLA Motorsports Park (RC)||2|
|Pikes Peak International Raceway (Oval)||2|
|Pikes Peak International Raceway (RC)||2|
|Richmond International Raceway (Oval)||2|
|St. Petersburg – Tropicana Field Street Circuit (SC)||2|
|Atlanta Motor Speedway (RC)||1|
|Blackhawk Farms Raceway (RC)||1|
|Cajon Speedway (Oval)||1|
|Hutchison Island Road Course (RC)||1|
|Las Vegas International Speedway (Oval)||1|
|Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oval)||1|
|Minneapolis Street Circuit (SC)||1|
|Mountain View Motorsports Park (RC)||1|
|Nazareth Speedway (Oval)||1|
2) Qualifying is key
“To finish first, you must first finish” is a famous racing adage most often attributed to five-time world champion racer Juan Manuel Fangio. It doesn’t matter who first said it. It holds true to this day.
For the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series, TSO Ladder would like to throw one more piece of advice into the mix; “to finish first, you must start on the first row.” It’s not quite the absolute that Fangio shared 70+ years ago, but in the 162 USF2000 races since 2010, it’s 82.1% on the mark.
Since 2010, the pole-sitter has won 95 races, while the outside front row starter has won 38 races. Delving further into the numbers, the driver that starts on the inside of the front row has won the race 28 more times than the drivers starting in any other position, a winning percentage of 58.6% for the driver who starts from the pole.
All four USF2000 races to start the 2021 season have been won from the front row. The pole-sitter has won twice, and the outside front row starter has also visited victory lane twice.
Of note, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has given us the lone USF2000 winner since 2010 to start outside the first three rows. The first-ever USF2000 race held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course was won from 13th place by Pabst Racing’s Will Owen. The race started under wet conditions, with all drivers starting on wet weather Cooper Tires. Pabst Racing realized how quickly the track was drying and was the first to call Owen in for slick tires.
The starting position of USF2000 race winners since 2010
The trio of USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tire races is the first of three scheduled triple headers during the 2021 USF2000 season. It’s the second straight year that ‘The Brickyard’ will host three USF2000 races during the same event.
Since 2010, the bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires has held ten triple-header events. Four in 2020 and one each in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. Mid-Ohio has played host to seven, while Indianapolis Motor Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Road America have hosted one each.
A single driver has won all three races of a USF2000 triple-header on four occasions. Nico Jamin (2015), Anthony Martin (2016), Kyle Kirkwood (2018) and Christian Rasmussen (2020) all brought out the brooms at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
There is an excellent chance that the 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion will visit the victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. Only twice, once in 2020 and in 2013, did the eventual champion fail to win at least one of the races during a triple-header weekend. The eventual USF2000 champion has won 18 of the 30 past triple header races.
4) Consistency and staying out of trouble
Winning races, leading leaps, and finishing on the podium will always form the roof and walls of your championship season, but like any building, it’s the parts you can’t always see that hold the building up.
In racing, consistently finishing in the top ten while limiting poor results is the structural foundation of a championship season.
After the first four races of the 2021 season, only a trio of drivers has laid the four corners of their championship foundation.
As the only driver to start the season with top-five finishes in every race, current championship leader and Exclusive Autosport sophomore Christian Brooks has the best foundation for building a scholarship-winning season.
Fellow sophomores Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing) and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) are the other two drivers that have finished in the top ten in every race so far, giving them a solid base for the remainder of the season.
It should come as no surprise that those drivers make up three of the top four spots in the championship.
A quartet of more sophomores – Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) – are all in the top ten on the championship table, but with 16th, 20th, 18th, and 24th place finishes, respectively, are missing one of the corners of their foundation.
Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports freshman Spike Kohlbecker has been the most consistent rookie driver across the season’s first two events. A native of St. Louis, Mo., the 18-year-old has one 11th place finish to go along with a seventh and two sixth-place finishes.
5) Pace does not always equate to results.
The fastest lap of the race is an oft-derided statistic because it doesn’t necessarily translate directly to on-track results. At the INDYCAR, and maybe even Indy Lights level, we agree with that argument.
However, on the lower two rungs of the Road To Indy, we think it can be a valuable indicator of potential. The USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 competitors don’t have a push-to-pass option, making the quickest lap of the race a fair indicator of a driver’s pace.
If you compare the average finish of a driver with the average of their fastest race lap, you can quickly deduce whose results don’t match their pace.
Nine drivers across the first four races of the 2021 USF2000 season have results that do not match their pace.
Those drivers whose average finish is at least one below the average of their quickest race laps are:
- Myles Rowe (Force Indy) – his average finishing position is 6.5 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development) – his average finishing position is 4.3 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) – his average finishing position is 4.0 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development) – his average finishing position is 3.5 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport) – his average finishing position is 3.0 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) – his average finishing position is 2.8 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development) – his average finishing position is 2.0 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing) – his average finishing position is 1.5 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
- Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing) – his average finishing position is 1.3 spots behind the average of his fastest race lap.
Their own unforced error, another driver’s error, disappointing qualifying, or unfortunate mechanical issues can cause less than optimal results. But, if you are looking for a driver to have a breakout weekend, the above nine drivers could be a good choice.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship spotter guide
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- on all social media channels via the #TeamCooperTire and #RoadToIndy hashtags
A note about our presenting sponsor.
Once again, a huge thank you to Cooper Tires for coming back to be the presenting sponsor of TSO Ladder for the fourth season. Without them, we would not be able to bring you our extensive Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires coverage. If you require tires, I highly recommend them. Our family has the Discover ® AT3 4S on our SUV and CS5 Grand Touring on our car.