By Patrick Stephan
Steve Wittich has only covered 45 sessions this weekend, so I’m going to take over this one while he’s talking to the driver’s from the just completed USF2000 race #3.
A nice crowd has already settled in to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with the smell of campfires hanging in the heavy/humid morning air. It’s already over 70 degrees today as this race gets ready to start.
Hunter-McElrea led the 12 car field to the green for the 25 lap race. They were nicely formed up in 6 rows of 2 when the green flag waved with McElrea taking the lead in to turn one. Lots of dicing a couple spots back resulted in McElrea leading the first lap followed by Petrov with Simpson moving up to third. Rasmussen, Gold and Abel rounded out the Top 6.
Reece Gold goes around the outside of point leader Rasmussen in Turn 5 to take over the 4th spot.
Manuel Sulaiman also picked up a spot on Lap 2, moving up to 7th.
McElrea is out to just a 0.9788 lead over Petrov who has Simpson right on his gearbox as they complete Lap 4.
Hunter Yeaney has to come down pit lane with a damaged nose wing. The front main plane is missing as he comes to get service from his Velocity Racing Development crew. He had moved up to 10th from 12th before having to pit for service. He is able to rejoin, but has lost a lap.
McElrea’s lead stays at just under 1 second over Petrov on Lap 5. Simpson is also still right there at just 1.36 off the lead in third.
The lead trio is just starting to get a bit of a gap over 4th place Reece Gold who is 1.3 seconds back of Simpson.
Point leader Rasmussen has settled in to 5th, followed by Abel, Sulaiman, Miller, Eves, Roe, Brichacek and Yeaney (-1 Lap).
Lap times continue to drop for most of the field as Lap 9 is completed, including McElrea turning a lap of 1:18.4863. Reece Gold also turned his quickest lap on the 9th circuit at 1:18.6637 as he closes the gap to third place Kyffin Simpson down to 0.6326 (as of Lap 10).
McElrea is out to a 1.4158 second lead now over Petrov on Lap 10, then grows that to 1.5361 on Lap 11.
Rasmussen is slowly catching Reece Gold with the gap down to 0.3911 on Lap 13 as we’ve now crossed over the halfway mark in this race.
Up front, McElrea continues to lead by about 1.5 seconds over Petrov.
Rasmussen closes to 0.2724 on Gold in Lap 14, but slips back to 0.7349 the next time by. That’s let Jacob Abel close to 0.510 on Rasmussen as the battle for 4th is quickly becoming a three way fight.
On Lap 16, Rasmussen finds his form again, cutting the gap to Gold to 0.4978 while extending his lead over Abel back to 0.8728.
The front trio of McElrea, Petrov, and Simpson remain nicely spaced about 1.2 second apart from each other, with that 4th, 5th, 6th battle drawing our attention right now.
Jacob Abel does his fastest lap of the race on the 17th go round at 1:18.4253 but he’s still 0.7 behind Rasmussen who is again closing on Gold (that’s now a 0.3590 second gap).
Further back, Jack William Miller has closed the gap to Manuel Sulaiman which is now bouncing from 0.3 to 0.5.
The fight for 4th closes up yet again as they are neatly spaced a few car lengths apart, but neither Abel or Rasmussen are quite close enough yet to make a move.
Lap 21 and McElrea leads by 1.3 over Petrov and it’s another 1.0208 back to Simpson who has solidly held down the 3rd spot since getting by Rasmussen on the start.
Wyatt Brichacek gets around James Roe on Lap 22 to move to the 11th spot.
Lap 23 the lead is down to 0.9715 as Petrov closes slightly on McElrea.
In that fight for 4th, point leader Rasmussen seems to have decided not to push Gold too hard and it looks like he will just settle in for a solid finish that will extend his points lead over Braden Eves who will finish 9th.
McElrea takes the win by 0.7498 over Petrov.
This is McElrea’s second win of the season to pair with a victory at Barber Motorsports Park.
Steve will follow up a bit later with more stats and driver comments. Next up here at Mid-Ohio is the 2nd Indy Lights of the weekend.
McElrea says in victory lane that he was just controlling the gap the entire race and he is “pretty pumped,” to pick up this win.
Unofficial Results Indy Pro 2000 GP of Mid-Ohio Race #2
|Pos||Car #||Driver||Laps||Diff||Best Time||Best Lap||Team|
|1||18||Hunter McElrea||25||LAP 25||1:18.1906||15||Pabst Racing|
|2||42||Artem Petrov||25||0.7498||1:18.2669||13||Exclusive Autosport|
|3||21||Kyffin Simpson||25||1.1853||1:18.1273||22||Juncos Racing|
|4||55||Reece Gold||25||6.9966||1:18.3377||13||Juncos Racing|
|5||1||Christian Rasmussen||25||8.6342||1:18.1945||13||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|6||51||Jacob Abel||25||8.9201||1:18.4253||17||Abel Motorsports|
|7||22||Manuel Sulaiman||25||11.0421||1:18.4011||13||Juncos Racing|
|8||40||Jack William Miller||25||11.4748||1:18.2089||12||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports|
|9||91||Braden Eves||25||11.7089||1:18.2787||15||Exclusive Autosport|
|10||5||Wyatt Brichacek||25||16.7613||1:18.5688||11||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|11||3||James Roe||25||17.8883||1:18.5944||17||Turn 3 Motorsport|
|12||11||Hunter Yeany||24||1 LAPS||1:19.1162||19||Velocity Racing Development|