Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Dan Andersen gave the command to start the 400th Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race at 9:35 am on Saturday.

After two pace laps, the front row of Sundaramoorthy and Brooks brought the field under the green flag to get the 20 lap USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires underway.

For the second straight Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires race, the first lap was interrupted by a caution. The incident started with Nolan Siegel, Myles Rowe, and Dylan Christie, who started seventh, ninth, and tenth, also involved Simon Sikes, Grant Palmer, and Bijoy Garg.

Siegel, Sikes, and Palmer were able to make it back to pit road with only Siegel continuing.

The running order as the field came back to green to start Lap 6. The running order was: Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Pierson, Porto, Green, Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), and Siegel were the cars still running. Sikes, Palmer, Rowe, Christie, and Garg were all retired due to contact.

Brooks got a great start and was able to draft by Sundaramoorthy before they got to Turn 1. Behind the two leaders, Porto was able to get around Pierson for the final spot on the podium.

On Lap 7, Porto gained another spot, moving to second and taking off after the leader. Further back, Kohlbecker lost places to his Cape Motorsports teammates Nepveu and d’Orlando.

On Lap 8, Porto took the lead, with the No. 12 and No. 44 going side-by-side through Turn 7, 8, and 9 before the Brazilian took the lead in Turn 10.

Brooks was right on the gearbox of Porto as they began Lap 9, and Sundaramoorthy joined the two in a three-wide battle for the lead. All three drivers gave each other room, with Porto and Brooks holding their spots. Sundaramoorthy wasn’t so lucky, losing the final spot on the podium to his Pabst Racing teammate Pierson.

With seven laps remaining, Porto’s lead over Brooks was 0.8816 seconds remaining, but it was still anybody’s race. The top eight drivers were separated by less than five seconds.

Over the next three laps, Brooks had cut the lead to 0.6463 seconds remaining. Further back in the field, Lee moved into the top ten, getting around Evans with four laps remaining.

Brooks took two more tenths of a second out of Porto’s lead over the next two laps, getting the white flag with a 0.4-second deficit. The points leader couldn’t quite get close enough to make a move on the leader, and Porto was the first under the 400th twin checkered flag.

Since 1990, the USF2000 series has provided race fans with plenty of excitement, and the 400th race was no different.

The top two positions didn’t change hands on the final lap of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, but the battle for the last step on the podium was epic.

Sundaramoorthy made a great outside pass of Pierson in Turn 1 to grab third. The battling by the Pabst Racing teammates allowed d’Orlando to catch them. The Cape Motorsports driver made a brave move around both drivers in Turn 10, 11 and 12, to stand on the USF2000 podium for the seventh time in his career.

USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Race #3 Results

1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 20 laps
2 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -0.4525
3 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -4.8539
4 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing -5.0368
5 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -6.1274
6 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports -7.8244
7 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing -8.3788
8 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -8.7779
9 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport -9.1572
10 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -13.154
11 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development -13.8597
12 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing -14.329
13 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -15.004
14 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing -15.8896
15 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing -16.0406
16 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -18.171
17 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development -21.3667
18 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -24.2383
19 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -24.8091
20 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -24.9264
21 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport – 5 laps
22 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -18 laps
23 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport -18 laps
24 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -19 laps
25 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -19 laps
26 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development -19 laps