By Steve Wittich
Cape Motorsports veteran Michael d’Orlando, a winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2020, led Friday’s lone Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice. The native of Hartsdale, New York, is currently fourth in the championship fight, only 29 points behind leader Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), who turned the fourth quickest lap of practice.
Fellow championship contenders – Christian Brooks (fifth in the championship), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (second in the championship), and Josh Pierson (sixth in the championship) – were second, fifth, and sixth in practice and within three-tenths of a second of d’Orlando, setting things up for an entertaining qualifying session this afternoon.
The first and only Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice session got underway at 9:55 am. The skies were blue but with big fluffy grey clouds, possibly foreshadowing some rain later. The ambient temperature was chilly for July in Ohio, 62F, and the track temperature was 77F.
Orlando was the quickest driver after 10 minutes of practice, but times were dropping quickly as the impressive field of 28 USF-17’s put down plenty of Cooper Tire rubber on the green race track.
The red flag came out with just under 15 minutes left in the half-hour session when the No. 7 of newcomer Chase Hyland came to a stop at entry to pit road.
The green flag came out for ten more minutes before the red came out for a second time. This time it was for an incident involving the No. 16 of Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) and an unidentified Jay Howard Driver Development car who made wheel-to-wheel contact in The Keyhole (Turn 2). Vaccaro ended up in the barriers while his combatant spun but was able to continue.
Two minutes remained in the session when the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got the No. 16 cleared, and the track went back to green. None of the 28 drivers were able to continue.
The series had a trio of 45-minute practice sessions on a humid and damp Thursday.
Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) led the first two sessions, while Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) led the final session and the combined timesheet with a lap timed at 82.5365 seconds. d’Orlando, the 19-year-old championship contender, was a USF2000 winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Championship leader Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) had the 13th quickest time of the 28 drivers in the test day. Fellow championship contenders Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), and Brooks ended with the second, fourth, and sixth times on the combined timesheet.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio practice results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFF.||LAPS|
|1||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:22.0509||1:22.0509||15|
|2||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.0906||0.0397||13|
|3||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:22.1744||0.1235||16|
|4||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:22.3163||0.2654||13|
|5||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:22.3184||0.2675||15|
|6||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||1:22.3329||0.2820||16|
|7||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.3388||0.2879||15|
|8||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||1:22.4546||0.4037||13|
|9||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.4827||0.4318||15|
|10||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.4838||0.4329||12|
|11||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.7261||0.6752||12|
|12||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:22.7694||0.7185||13|
|13||7||Chase Hyland||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.9034||0.8525||9|
|14||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||1:22.9379||0.8870||14|
|15||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.9702||0.9193||13|
|16||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:22.9710||0.9201||14|
|17||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.9931||0.9422||12|
|18||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:23.0123||0.9614||14|
|19||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||1:23.0754||1.0245||6|
|20||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||1:23.1357||1.0848||13|
|21||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||1:23.2953||1.2444||12|
|22||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:23.4760||1.4251||14|
|23||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:23.5882||1.5373||12|
|24||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:23.5890||1.5381||15|
|25||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||1:23.6995||1.6486||14|
|26||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||1:23.7485||1.6976||14|
|27||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:24.4048||2.3539||2|
|28||20||Nathan Byrd||Legacy Autosport||1:25.1797||3.1288||13|
The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track two more times today. They qualify at 1:10 pm, and the first of three races gets started at 4:20 pm.