By Steve Wittich
After starting on the outside of the front row five times in 2021, Exclusive Autosport veteran Artem Petrov finally got the pole he’s been gunning for in the first 16 races.
It’s Petrov’s second career Indy Pro 2000 pole and the ninth series pole for Exclusive Autosport.
Only six-tenths of a second covered the first eight drivers, with the two championship contenders Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) starting from the second and third spots.
Newcomer Christian Brooks, who is making the step up to Indy Pro 2000 after spending the first 16 races of the season in USF2000 with Exclusive Autosport, ended up an impressive fifth a day after he turned 21-years-old.
Qualifying for VP Racing Lubricants got underway at 10:20 am, with 20 minutes of green running on offer for the dozen drivers.
Like their big brothers, Indy Lights, the red flag came out while drivers were on their out laps when the No. 3 of James Roe came to a stop in the gravel on the outside of the highspeed left-hand Turn 1.
The Irishman got out of the car, and the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team quickly got the Turn 3 Motorsport car cleared and behind the wall, with the green flag came back out with 17-minutes of time remaining.
After turning the quickest lap early in the session, McElrea came to pit road for adjustments.
His quick lap didn’t last long as drivers continued to get faster as their Cooper Tires got up to the optimal operating temperature.
In the two minutes before the halfway point of the 20 minutes of green flag qualifying, Gold, Petrov, and Rasmussen all held the provisional pole.
At the halfway point of the session, the JHDD, CSU|One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 of Rasmussen held the provisional pole over Eves by a super-slim eight-hundredths of a second.
The Dane, Rasmussen, remained on the provisional pole for the next five minutes before Petrov, who led Friday’s practice, jumped to the provisional pole.
The Russian driver continued to get quicker, lowing the provisional time to 66.4773 seconds with three minutes remaining in the penultimate qualifying session of the season.
It was a good thing that Petrov went even quicker on his next lap, as Rasmussen took a run at the top spot on his 11th lap of the session.
Nobody could go quicker than Petrov in the final two minutes.
VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying #1 results
|1||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||1:16.4411||——|
|2||1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:16.5952||-0.1541|
|3||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||1:16.6473||-0.2062|
|4||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Racing||1:16.6977||-0.2566|
|5||44||Christian Brooks||Exclusive Autosport||1:16.8173||-0.3762|
|6||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:16.8861||-0.445|
|7||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:16.9628||-0.5217|
|8||22||Enaam Ahmed||Juncos Racing||1:17.0334||-0.5923|
|9||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:17.2533||-0.8122|
|10||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||1:17.2808||-0.8397|
|11||19||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||1:17.9912||-1.5501|
|12||3||James Roe||Turn 3 Motorsport||No Time||—|
The remainder of the Indy Pro 2000 weekend schedule is as follows:
Saturday, October 2
- 2:05pm – 2:50pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #1
Sunday, October 3
- 9:30am – 10am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2
- 1:10pm – 2pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #2
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