By Steve Wittich
For the second time this season, Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) won an exciting first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race.
The win by Sundaramoorthy, from Oconomoc, Wisc., is the fourth at the iconic race track for the Wisconsin-based Pabst Racing.
The caution-free race officially had only one pass for the lead, but that didn’t tell the entire story. The exciting race had 164 total passes and featured a 12th to second place drive by Cape Motorsports veteran Michael d’Orlando.
Pole-sitter Brooks led ten of the 15 laps but faced constant pressure from Sundaramoorthy and his Pabst Racing teammate Josh Pierson. The points leader heading into the race held onto the last spot on the podium, and the points lead.
The top five (unofficial) points after the race are:
Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) –> 121 points
Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) –> 98 points
Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing) –> 88 points
Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) –> 88 points
Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) –> 79 points
DEForce Racing veteran Nolan Siegel set the fastest lap of the race and collected the single bonus point that goes with it.
The call to fire the 26 Elite Engine prepared 2.0L engines powering the lowest rung on the Road To Indy ladder was given by race control at 10:37 am.
After one pace lap, the front row of Brooks and Pierson brought the field across the ‘yard of bricks’ on the long front straight.
Pierson immediately dropped in behind Brooks to draft the pole-sitter down the long front straight. The Pabst Racing driver popped to the outside of Exclusive Autosport No. 44 but could not make the pass into the right-hander.
Behind the first two rows, the drivers went three and four wide. Twenty-four of the 26 cars made it safely to Turn 2, but that was not the case for Myles Rowe and Prescott Campbell. The two drivers who started 11th and 13th made contact, and both drivers had to come to pit road for repairs. They were able to continue, finishing 21st and 22nd, respectively.
The running order after the first lap was Brooks, Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Sundaramoorthy, Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Grant Palmer (Exclusive Autosport), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), and Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing).
Brooks started Lap 4 with a 0.25-second lead, but by the time they got to the braking zone for Turn 1, they were side-by-side. The former teammate battled through the first four corners before Brooks.
On Lap 5, Sundaramoorthy was able to get back by Green for the final spot on the podium in Turn 1. Further back, Jay Howard Driver Development teammates Bijoy Garg and Jackson Lee made light contact in the same turn. Garg missed his braking point, hitting the right rear of Lee’s car. Garg was able to continue, while Lee came to a stop in the Turn 1 run-off area. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to clear Lee, keeping the track green.
As the leaders got the crossed flags, they went three-wide into the braking zone in Turn 1. All three drivers made it safely through the corner, with Pierson making an inside pass for the lead. The 15-year-olds lead only held for five more corners before Brooks got back by Pierson for the lead in Turn 7. That gave Sundaramoorthy a chance to get by his Pabst Racing teammate, with the Barber Motorsports Park Race #1 taking off after the leader.
On Lap 10, Sundaramoorthy went around the outside of Brooks in Turn 1, grabbing the lead and pulling away from Brooks.
With two laps remaining, Sundaramoorthy’s lead over Brooks was 0.7099 seconds. Brooks, d’Orlando, and Pierson were all within seven-tenths of a second and fought for the podium’s final two spots.
The lead when Sundaramoorthy got the white flag was 1.01 seconds. Behind the veteran piloted No. 22, Brooks, d’Orlando, and Pierson
There were three passes for a position on the race’s final lap, with d’Orlando getting by Brooks for the second spot on the podium. Further down the field, Dylan Christie was able to move into eighth after passing Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), and Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports) moved past Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development) for 18th place.
USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires results
|1||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||15 LAPS|
|2||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-1.8985|
|3||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-2.464|
|4||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||-2.7688|
|5||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||-3.3854|
|6||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||-4.4271|
|7||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||-4.8691|
|8||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||-7.0796|
|9||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||-7.5438|
|10||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||-7.8954|
|11||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||-8.9431|
|12||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||-10.7175|
|13||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||-15.21|
|14||90||Grant Palmer||Exclusive Autosport||-16.1403|
|15||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||16.3184|
|16||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||16.7624|
|17||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||17.8182|
|18||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||19.1644|
|19||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||19.9406|
|20||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||20.1853|
|21||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||-1 LAP|
|22||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||-1 LAP|
|23||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||-1 LAP|
|24||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||-5 LAPS|
|25||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||-6 LAPS|
|26||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||-10 LAPS|
The lowest rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 3:25 pm.