The Metal Works Custom Fabrication sponsored No. 23 Pabst Racing machine of Jace Denmark on track in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy)

By Steve Wittich

These are the basic race notes. We’ll update this story this evening.

After a single pace-lap, a pair of 17-year-olds, front row starters Nepveu and Denmark brought the flag to the green flag.

The Canadian got a good jump with his teammate Garg right on his gearbox and looking like he might move to second, but could not out brake Denmark, who held onto second.

The field expertly got cleanly through the first lap with the running order after one circuit of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit as Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Frederik Lund (Jay Howard Driver Development), Viktor Andersson (Velocity Racing Development), Yeeroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Jorge Garciarce (Jay Howard Driver Development).

The biggest gainer in the top ten on the first lap was Sikes, who went from eighth to sixth.

Making moves for position on the second lap was Rowe (to fourth), d’Orlando (to sixth), and Kohlbecker (to eighth).

After five laps, Denmark was holding onto the back of Nepveau, trailing by only a half-second. After that, the rest of the field was almost nose-to-tail, with the top 16 all within ten seconds of the leader.

Drivers settled in over the next five laps, with Nepveau holding a 0.6-second lead as they got the crossed flags signifying the halfway point of the 20 lap race. Veteran d’Orlando had the quickest lap of the race at that point.

On Lap 11, Rowe moved into podium position, while his teammate Denmark put immense pressure on Nepveau upfront.

With eight laps remaining, the battles were raging up and down the field, with the top 11 still within ten seconds of the lead.

On Lap 12, Burke put immense pressure on Kohlbecker for eighth and was warned for blocking.

At the head of the field, with five laps remaining, Nepveau was defending for all he was worth, using shallow corner entries to keep Denmark behind him. That battling allowed Rowe, who was 2.5 seconds behind his teammate when he passed Frazer, to move to within one second of his teammate in second. Then, on Lap 14, Rowe turned the race’s quickest lap.

Nepveu went into the final two corners too hot on the second last lap, allowing Denmark to get beside him and grab the lead as the drivers started Lap 19. However, the Pabst Racing sophomore’s time in the lead didn’t last long, as he repaid the favor, getting into Turn 1 hot, getting loose at the exit of the corner, allowing Nepveu and Rowe to get by him.

Rowe quickly put pressure on the leader, getting beside him in the Turn 1 braking zone, getting into the corner first, but running a little wide, allowing Nepveau to get beside Rowe at the corner exit. The pair of drivers went through Turn 2 side-by-side, attempting the same thing in Turn 3. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as the pair of leaders made contact (Rowe’s left front to Nepveau’s right rear), with both slamming the wall hard on the driver’s right.

Thankfully, both drivers could get out of their destroyed cars under their own power.

Somehow, Denmark could navigate his way through the flying debris, taking the lead and promoting Frazer and Garg to the podium.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race #1 Unofficial results

1 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 20 LAPS
2 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 0.8051
3 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1.3243
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1.9173
5 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 3.4197
6 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 4.6601
7 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 11.0065
8 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 11.6497
9 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 14.9099
10 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 15.7431
11 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport In Pit
12 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports In Pit
13 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development In Pit
14 6 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 22.8786
15 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 27.0407
16 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 31.7547
17 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing – 1 LAPS
18 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing – 1 LAPS
19 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development – 2 LAPS