By Steve Wittich
For the second time this season and the fourth time in his USF2000 career, Exclusive Autosport sophomore Christian Brooks will start a USF2000 race from the pole.
The 20-year-old Californian barely pipped a pair of Pabst Racing drivers. Josh Pierson was a scant 0.0276 second off his first career pole but will still start a career-best second.
Pierson’s veteran teammate Sundaramoorthy, who led both test sessions earlier in the day, was only 0.787 seconds away from winning his second pole of the young 2021 USF2000 season.
Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports rookie Spike Kohlbecker will start from the outside of the second row, the St. Louis, Mo. driver’s best starting position this season.
The third and fourth row consisting of Turn 3 Motorsport’s Josh Green (starts fifth), DEForce Racing’s Kiko Porto (starts sixth), Cape Motorsports’ Thomas Nepveu (starts seventh), and DEForce Racing’s Nolan Siegel (starts ninth) were separated by only six-hundredths of a second.
It’s the first USF2000 pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for Exclusive Autosport and the “Eh Team’s” sixth series pole. The Michael Duncalfe led squad is only the fifth different team to win a USF2000 pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Twenty-two of the 26 drivers were within one second of Brooks pole-lap.
After winning 11 of the first 12 USF2000 poles on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Cape Motorsports pole ‘drought’ at the iconic track has hit four races. The Brownsburg, Ind.-based team’s drivers qualified fifth (Spike Kohlbecker), seventh (Thomas Nepveu), 12th (Michael d’Orlando), and 20th (Evan Stamer).
The two baker’s dozen USF-17s took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at 5 pm on Thursday for their lone qualifying session of the USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires triple-header.
The session began under partly cloudy skies with an ambient temperature in Speedway, Ind. of 66F and the track temperature at 82.9F.
The teams and drivers utilized two different approaches. Sixteen drivers immediately went out on track and started turning laps, while ten waited until later in the session to hit the track.
The early leader was Brooks in the Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44. He was joined early at the top of the timesheet by his teammate Matthew Round-Garrido and the Pabst Racing duo of Sundaramoorthy and Pierson.
The DEForce Racing were the second wave of drivers to hit the track and at the halfway point of the 20-minute session, Porto, with a lap at 84.9612 seconds, held the provisional pole with his teammate Siegel five-hundredths of a second behind him.
Most of the field came in for fresh Cooper Tire slicks and adjustments around the session’s halfway point.
The first driver to go green and grab the provisional pole was Pierson, who was quickly supplanted by his more experienced Pabst Racing teammate Sundaramoorthy.
Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports rookie Spike Kohlbecker grabbed the provisional pole with just over five minutes remaining in the session.
With just under five minutes remaining, Pierson went quicker, two laps in a row, coming within one-tenth-of-a-second of the track record.
Pierson’s hold on the provisional pole held until only 30 seconds were remaining in the session. On his tenth lap of the session, Brooks went two-hundredths of a second quicker than his 2020 Exclusive Autosport teammate.
USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying (unofficial) results.
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:24.6284||——|
|2||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||1:24.6560||0.0276|
|3||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:24.7071||0.0787|
|4||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:24.8480||0.2196|
|5||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:24.9509||0.3225|
|6||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:24.9612||0.3328|
|7||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||1:25.0060||0.3776|
|8||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||1:25.0148||0.3864|
|9||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:25.0599||0.4315|
|10||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:25.1326||0.5042|
|11||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||1:25.1370||0.5086|
|12||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:25.2118||0.5834|
|13||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||1:25.2183||0.5899|
|14||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||1:25.2416||0.6132|
|15||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||1:25.3184||0.6900|
|16||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||1:25.3866||0.7582|
|17||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:25.4051||0.7767|
|18||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:25.5339||0.9055|
|19||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||1:25.5668||0.9384|
|20||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:25.5729||0.9445|
|21||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:25.6144||0.9860|
|22||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:25.6395||1.0111|
|23||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:25.8060||1.1776|
|24||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:25.8380||1.2096|
|25||90||Grant Palmer||Exclusive Autosport||1:26.1087||1.4803|
|26||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:26.6533||2.0249|
Setting the grids for USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 and Race #3
With a condensed schedule and a trio of races scheduled for Friday and Saturday, this was the lone qualifying session for the USF2000 drivers and teams.
The grid for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning’s races will be set utilizing Rule 8.5.3 from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship rule book. That rule states:
8.5.3. If scheduling does not permit separate Qualification sessions, or the Qualification session scheduled for a specific Race was abandoned, the starting lineup for that Race shall be based on a Drivers fastest lap from the previous Race, or the second-fastest qualifying lap from the most recent qualifying session during the same Event weekend.
- The grid for Race #2 will be set utilizing the quickest of a driver’s second-quickest qualifying lap or their fastest lap in Race #1
- The grid for Race #3 will be set utilizing the quickest of a driver’s second-quickest qualifying lap or their fastest lap in Race #2.
Race #1 rolls off at 10:40 am on Friday.