By Steve Wittich
For the first time this season, Pabst Racing rookie Jace Denmark, who is in a dogfight for the Hyperco Rookie of the Year honors, set the quickest lap during Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice.
However, it was close throughout the field, with four of the 22 drivers within a tenth-of-a-second of Denmark, eight of the 22 drivers within a half-second, and 16 within one second.
Within a tenth of a second of Denmark were Josh Green, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, and championship contender d’Orlando. The championship leader Kiko Porto had the sixth quickest practice time.
The 17-year-old Denmark’s best lap of 81.1154 seconds was quicker than the race track record of 81.2979 seconds, set by Kyle Kirkwood in 2018.
Saturday’s VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires got underway at 8:40 am, with the sun still rising over The Carousel at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The blue skies were dotted with puffy white clouds, and the temperature was struggling to reach 50F.
The 22-entries quickly got to work on the green track, which has not held a four-wheeled race event since Independence Day Weekend’s Road To Indy/INDYCAR event.
With three fresh sets and one carryover set of Cooper Tire slicks available for the one practice, two qualifying sessions, and pair of races, the teams stayed on their carryover set for the half-hour practice.
A pair of drivers named Josh – Cape Motorsports’ Green and Pabst Racing’s Pierson – were the early leaders in the session, but with the cool temperatures, times continued to improve as the Cooper Tire slicks got up to temperature.
Also near the top of the timing screens in the first half of the session were the two championship contenders, Porto and d’Orlando.
At the halfway point of the session, Hyperco Rookie Of The Year Contender Denmark, with a lap time of 81.8601 seconds, was the quickest pilot in the field. Alos in the top ten were Green, Siegel, Sundaramoorthy, Porto, d’Orlando, Pierson, Campbell, and Stamer.
Somewhat surprisingly, lap times were below what the drivers were running during practice in July.
d’Orlando, who needs max points to have a shot at the $401,305 scholarship, was the quickest driver with ten minutes remaining, over two-tenths of a second clear of Porto.
With ten minutes remaining in practice, the top eight were separated by only three-tenths of a second.
The 22 drivers completed 418 laps in the 30-minute practice that was green for the entirety.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by VP Stay Frosty Practice #1 results
|RANK||NO.||NAME||TEAM||FAST TIME||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||1:21.1154||——||21|
|2||33||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:21.1486||0.0332||18|
|3||22||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:21.1777||0.0623||21|
|4||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||1:21.2097||0.0943||20|
|5||24||Josh Pierson||Pabst Racing||1:21.2774||0.1620||21|
|6||12||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:21.2882||0.1728||19|
|7||10||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||1:21.3020||0.1866||20|
|8||5||Spike Kohlbecker||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:21.3827||0.2673||20|
|9||99||Myles Rowe||Force Indy||1:21.4919||0.3765||18|
|10||11||Prescott Campbell||DEForce Racing||1:21.7491||0.6337||18|
|11||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:21.7759||0.6605||19|
|12||2||Thomas Nepveu||Cape Motorsports||1:21.8257||0.7103||20|
|13||6||Bijoy Garg||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:21.8754||0.7600||21|
|14||1||Ely Navarro||DEForce Racing||1:21.9336||0.8182||20|
|15||3||Evan Stamer||Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports||1:21.9444||0.8290||20|
|16||34||Dylan Christie||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:22.0824||0.9670||18|
|17||8||Jackson Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:22.2404||1.1250||20|
|18||91||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||1:22.4032||1.2878||14|
|19||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||1:22.6353||1.5199||18|
|20||19||Andre Castro||Legacy Autosport||1:22.6463||1.5309||18|
|21||42||Michael Myers||Michael Myers Racing||1:23.2987||2.1833||17|
|22||16||Kent Vaccaro||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:23.6572||2.5418||17|
The remainder of the USF2000 weekend schedule is as follows
Saturday, October 2
- 11:45am – 12:15pm – USF2000 Qualifying #2
- 3:50pm – 4:30pm – USF2000 Race #1
Sunday, October 3
- 8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
- 11am – 11:40am – USF2000 Race #2
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