By Steve Wittich
DEForce Racing veteran Kiko Porto led the second USF2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course wire-to-wire to take home his third win of the 2021 season and extend his championship points lead.
The Brazilian held off race #1 winner Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), who visited the podium for the sixth time this season.
Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport) came home third, extending his podium streak to three races.
The call to fire the 28 Elite Engine-prepared power plants for Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #2 came at 2:25 pm; the ambient temperature was 77F. The skies were sunny, and hills surrounding the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course were full of fans.
For the fourth straight race, DEForce Racing veteran Porto brought the USF2000 field to the green flag in front of the Cooper Tire Tower on the front straight of the 60-year-old road course.
The running order after a clean, but busy first lap was: Porto, d’Orlando, Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Chase Hyland (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nathan Byrd (Legacy Autosport) and Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development).
On the second lap, in Turn 5, Vodonovich spun. The No. 9 Jay Howard Driver Development machine could continue, but he was forced to pit road for repairs.
After a hectic first lap, the field settled in for the 20 lapper. Porto held the lead at the front of the field, but d’Orlando remained within a half-second of the championship leader.
Sikes, who gained one spot on the first lap to grab the last spot on the podium, had a comfortable gap of 2.5 seconds to Round-Garrido.
Championship contender Sundaramoorthy started the 20 lap race from the 11th spot and fell down the running order, finishing the first lap in the 25th spot. However, the third-year driver was able to recover 11 spots, finishing the race in 14th.
On Lap 9, newcomer Hyland had an off-track excursion in Turn 1, but was able to continue, ensuring the green flag remained out.
Porto’s lead at the halfway point of the race was still in the half-second range, with d’Orlando patiently waiting to see if the DEForce Racing driver made a mistake. Sikes, Round-Garrido, Nepveu, Frazer, Siegel, Kohlbecker, Brooks and Denmark
On Lap 11, Jackson Lee came to pit road to bolt on fresh Cooper Tire slicks to grab the quickest lap and improve his starting position for Race #3. The Avon, Ind. driver, turned the fastest lap of the race by a significant margin and will start Sunday morning’s from the inside of row three, his best start of the season.
With five laps remaining, the gap between Porto and d’Orlando remained at a half-second, with the rest of the top five evenly spread out and not within striking distance.
Outside of the top five – Frazer, Siegel, Kohlbecker, Brooks, Denmark, Green, Pierson, Campbell, Rowe, and Sundaramoorthy – were scrapping hammer and tong for 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th. That was running order when the ten drivers crossed the start/finish line with two laps remaining.
There was plenty of side-by-side battling in that group over the final two laps, with
Siegel, Brooks, Denmark, Green, and Sundaramoorthy all gaining spots and the rest of the driver losing places. Kohlbecker lost three places, the most of the group.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Race #2 – unofficial results
|1||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||20 LAPS|
|2||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-0.4085|
|3||19||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||-4.4027|
|4||92||Matt Round-Garrido||Exclusive Autosport||-6.3545|
|5||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||-9.2243|
|6||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||-9.9042|
|7||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||-10.6588|
|8||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-11.2737|
|9||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||-11.6158|
|10||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||-11.9953|
|11||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||-12.3075|
|12||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||-12.5659|
|13||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||-12.9008|
|14||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-13.1773|
|15||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||-16.8365|
|16||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||-22.8595|
|17||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||-24.9846|
|18||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||-25.2194|
|19||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||-26.2917|
|20||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||-26.9212|
|21||29||Erik Evans||Velocity Racing Development||-35.5305|
|22||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-39.8844|
|23||20||Nathan Byrd||Legacy Autosport||-75.3229|
|24||7||Chase Hyland||Jay Howard Driver Development||-78.4022|
|25||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||– 1 LAP|
|26||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||– 1 LAP|
|27||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||– 1 LAP|
|28||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||-3 LAPS|
The last of three Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio races will be the first track activity on Sunday, with the green flag scheduled for an early 8:05 am.
For the third straight race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the front row will consist of Port and d’Orlando. It will be the fifth consecutive pole start for the driver of the Banco Daycoval/Petromega sponsored No. 12 from the DEForce Racing stable.