By Steve Wittich
For the second straight qualifying session, Juncos Racing sophomore Manuel Sulaiman blew the talented Indy Pro 2000 field away with a stunning last lap to grab the pole for Sunday’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered By Elite Engines Qualifying for Race #2.
It’s the 20-year-old Mexican pilot’s fifth career Indy Pro 2000 pole and his third on the 4.014-mile, 14-turn natural terrain road course.
A driver representing the Speedway, Ind. based Juncos Racing starts on the pole for the sixth straight Indy Pro 2000 race, winning all three poles on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the pole at Lucas Oil Raceway, and both poles at Road America.
The second half of the 20-minute session saw Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), and Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) all spend time on the provisional pole.
It was rookie Gold that ended the session closest to his sophomore teammate, making up an all-Juncos Racing front row.
Starting on the second row will be championship leader Rasmussen and Abel, who grabbed his second straight second-row starting spot.
With rain in the area, a 2+ minute lap, and only 20 minutes to set a pole-winning lap time, the dozen Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires drivers took to the track at 8:45 am.
After the drivers had each completed two or three laps, Gold held the early provisional pole with a lap at 125.3376 seconds.
With ten minutes remaining in the session, all drivers had come to pit road for adjustments and fresh Cooper Tire slicks.
The top five at the halfway point of qualifying were Gold, Simpson, Petrov, Roe, and McElrea.
The first driver to get their tires up to the correct pressures and temperatures was Eves, who took over the provisional pole, but that didn’t last long.
Abel and Eves spent the next seven minutes trading the provisional pole between themselves before the rest of the field started to go quicker. Over the final three minutes of the session, Eves and Abel were joined by Petrov, Gold, Rasmussen, and finally Sulaiman on the point.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered By Elite Engines Qualifying for Race #2
|RANK||CAR NO||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||22||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||2:03.4545||——|
|2||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Racing||2:03.6954||0.2409|
|3||1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:03.7714||0.3169|
|4||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||2:04.0287||0.5742|
|5||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||2:04.0587||0.6042|
|6||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||2:04.0959||0.6414|
|7||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:04.2854||0.8309|
|8||21||Kyffin Simpson||Juncos Racing||2:04.4649||1.0104|
|9||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||2:04.4683||1.0138|
|10||11||Hunter Yeany||Velocity Racing Development||2:04.6018||1.1473|
|11||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||2:04.6554||1.2009|
|12||3||James Roe||Turn 3 Motorsport||2:04.8529||1.3984|
The first Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race of the weekend is set to get the green flag at 12:10 pm (Central).