By Steve Wittich
A daring outside Turn 1, Lap 1 pass of the pole-sitter by Kiko Porto turned into the fourth victory of the 2021 USF2000 season, extending the championship leaders gap to Michael d’Orlando to 34 points with four contests remaining.
Cape Motorsports veteran d’Orlando started fifth and finished fifth, unable to make up any ground on the tough to pass 2.14-mile, 12-turn New Jersey Motorsports Park Thunderbolt road course.
Porto lead all 20-laps, and for the third time in his Road To Indy career turned the quickest race lap, earning the two bonus points that go along with those accomplishments.
Pole sitter Yuven Sundaramoorthy held off fellow veteran Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) to score his seventh podium of the season.
Brooks’ fourth podium of 2021 and seventh in his USF2000 career moved the Californian past Pabst Racing sophomore Josh Pierson into fourth on the championship table.
Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore Josh Green started fourth and finished fourth to equal his best finish of the 2021 season and move up one spot to seventh on the championship table.
Sundaramoorthy punched off quickly, getting the jump on Porto, allowing Brooks to get alongside Porto. Sundaramoorthy held the inside line, allowing Porto to roll more speed on the outside of Turn 1 and grabbing the lead.
The 23 car field got cleanly through the first lap with the running order as Porto, Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Green, d’Orlando, Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports) and Nathan Byrd (Legacy Autosport).
On Lap 4, Vodanovich, Nepveau, Stamer, and Myers, fighting for the 16th, were the best battle on the track.
After five laps of action, Porto’s lead over Sundaramoorthy was a half-second, with Brooks and Green within two seconds of the leader.
On Lap 6, rookie of the year leader Kohlbecker moved around Navarro for 13th.
At the front of the field, Porto was able to build a 1.6 second lead over Sundaramoorthy. The Pabst Racing veteran was one second ahead of Brooks. However, the Exclusive Autosport sophomore had his mirrors full of Green, who was within three-tenths of a second of the No. 44.
Further back, Kohlbecker gained another spot. This time the No. 3 got around Rowe, moving up to 12th.
On Lap 12, Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Green, and d’Orlando were nose to tail for the final two spots on the podium.
Behind the battle for the top five, a pair of Pabst Racing teammates were separated by only 0.2 seconds in the tussle for sixth.
Porto began Lap 15 with a 3.7-second lead, but behind them, the battle for the final two spots on the podium was raging. Brooks took a peek to the inside of Sundaramoorthy in Turn 1 before tucking back in line.
Porto’s lead at the white flag was just over five seconds, while the fight for second through fifth had those five drivers covered by less than a second. Sundaramoorthy was able to hold off Brooks, while behind them, Green was just able to keep the DB Collaborative/Focused Project Mgmt. sponsored No. 4 of d’Orlando behind him in the battle for fourth.
Pierson finally moved around his teammate for sixth on that last lap, while Weir lost spots to Frazer, Kohlbecker, and Campbell.
Kohlbecker finished the race three spots ahead of his 13th place starting position to collect his rookie best tenth top-ten of the season.
The 20-lap race ran caution-free, the fifth time this season that a USF2000 race has gone green to checkered.
|1||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||20 LAPS|
|2||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||-5.1731|
|3||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||-5.4227|
|4||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||-6.0024|
|5||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||-6.1386|
|6||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||-14.11|
|7||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||-14.8726|
|8||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||-15.4652|
|9||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||-16.5523|
|10||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||-16.9152|
|11||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||-18.2109|
|12||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||-19.1777|
|13||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||-20.6648|
|14||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||-21.3608|
|15||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||-32.2003|
|16||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||-33.0135|
|17||9||Peter Vodanovich||Jay Howard Driver Development||-34.4055|
|18||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||-35.2031|
|19||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||-35.8911|
|20||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||-38.2267|
|21||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||-46.4067|
|22||20||Nathan Byrd||Legacy Autosport||-1 LAP|
|23||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||-10 LAPS|