By Steve Wittich
DEForce Racing sophomore Kiko Porto will start his fourth USF2000 race of the 2021 season from the pole, turning a lap of the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course at 81.4401 seconds, almost three-tenths of a second quicker than fellow veteran Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports).
When the 20-minute USF2000 qualifying session got underway at 1:10 pm, the ambient temperature was 69F, with the track temperature at 94F. The sun was out, but some building clouds were threatening the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.
As the drivers worked on building a gap for a clean lap, the leader after 25 drivers had completed a pair of laps at speed was d’Orlando, but times were falling rapidly.
The drivers that were still waiting on pit road? Spike Kohlbecker, Thomas Nepveu, and Evan Stamer, a trio of Cape Motorsports pilots.
Kent Vaccaro and Dylan Christie both spun in the first half of the 20-minute qualifying session but could keep it off the barriers with their engines running, and the track remained green.
With just over 11 minutes remaining in the session, d’Orlando, the quickest driver at that point in the session, came to pit road for fresh tires.
d’Orlando’s quick lap at the halfway portion of qualifying was 82.0591 seconds, and he was followed in the top 10 by Porto, Kohlbecker, Siegel, Denmark, Rowe, Lee, Nepveu, Green, and Round-Garrido.
Times continued with fall, with Pierson, Porto, Kohlbecker, and Nepveu all under only a tenth of a second out of the provisional pole.
With just over six minutes remaining in the session, Frazer knocked d’Orlando from the provisional pole, but that didn’t last long. The Cape Motorsports veteran was quickly supplanted by d’Orlando, who had his second set of Cooper Tire slicks up to the optimum temperature for qualifying.
With just under two minutes remaining in qualifying, championship leader Porto went to the provisional pole, besting d’Orlando by almost three-tenths of a second.
Drivers improving on their final laps were Siegel, Denmark, Green, Myers, Burke, and Weir.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #1 qualifying results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFF.|
|1||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:21.4401||——|
|2||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:21.7339||0.2938|
|3||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||1:21.7368||0.2967|
|4||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||1:21.7673||0.3272|
|5||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.0317||0.5916|
|6||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.0645||0.6244|
|7||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:22.0915||0.6514|
|8||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||1:22.0942||0.6541|
|9||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:22.1079||0.6678|
|10||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.1296||0.6895|
|11||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||1:22.1410||0.7009|
|12||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.1870||0.7469|
|13||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:22.1890||0.7489|
|14||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||1:22.2455||0.8054|
|15||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.3025||0.8624|
|16||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.3290||0.8889|
|17||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||1:22.3397||0.8996|
|18||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||1:22.5479||1.1078|
|19||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.6840||1.2439|
|20||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||1:22.8017||1.3616|
|21||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:22.8728||1.4327|
|22||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:22.8843||1.4442|
|23||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.9274||1.4873|
|24||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:23.0036||1.5635|
|25||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||1:23.0873||1.6472|
|26||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:23.1901||1.7500|
|27||7||Chase Hyland||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:23.7246||2.2845|
|28||20||Nathan Byrd||Legacy Autosport||1:24.5654||3.1253|
The teams have just under three hours to prepare for Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #1, which is set to get the green flag at 4:20 pm.