By Tony DiZinno
Poor luck negated Englishman Louis Foster’s win hopes in the early rounds of the 2022 Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires season. But with a first win achieved last time out on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, now the dam might have broke open for Foster and Exclusive Autosport with a second straight win in May in Indiana.
The driver of the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport Tatuus won the Cooper Tires Freedom 90 in style Friday night at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, capturing the win in his oval racing debut.
The decisive moment in this 90-lap race came just past the first third, with 30 laps complete and the Juncos Hollinger Racing pair of Reece Gold and Enaam Ahmed up front and Foster lurking in third, several seconds behind the leaders.
And then the green-and-white cars caught traffic, a spicy battle for seventh involving Jack William Miller, Salvador De Alba, Colin Kaminsky, Kiko Porto and Braden Eves.
Gold led Ahmed by 1.3 seconds on Lap 35 but was balked in behind the others ahead of him, with Foster able to make headway while the Juncos Hollinger pair failed to decisively carve through the traffic.
Ahmed cut the gap to Gold in half by Lap 37 to just 0.8 of a second, and even more down to 0.3 by Lap 42. By Lap 43, however, with Kaminsky still ahead of the leaders, Foster made his charge as he cleared the trio of Miller, De Alba and Eves.
At the halfway point, Gold led but Foster had a huge run to get past Ahmed for second and completed the move. Josh Green was fourth with Nolan Siegel fifth.
Foster tried to make his move on Lap 46, trying to get by on the low side, and then survived a wiggle in Turns 1 and 2 when trying to pass Gold low. He was just 0.002 of a second behind that lap.
But at the line on the next lap, Foster secured the lead by just 0.0266 of a second.
That lead quickly expanded, to 0.05 on Lap 48, then 0.21 on Lap 49, 0.97 on Lap 50, 1.43 on Lap 51, 1.90 on Lap 52 and 2.27 on Lap 53. A swing of more than five seconds on a 20 or 21-second lap is impressive by a driver of any experience, let alone one in his or her oval racing debut.
Foster’s conquest was briefly halted for the night’s only full course caution, which flew when Kaminsky had slight wall contact in Turns 1 and 2.
It was a brief caution and back to green by the end of Lap 57 and start of Lap 58. Green was dinged a position for getting around Ahmed under yellow, but gave it back and resumed his charge.
Foster set the race’s fastest lap on Lap 61, setting a time of 20.8920 seconds.
Things stabilized in the final 30 laps. Foster had a brief scare late as his near 3-second lead dropped to as low as 1.15 on Lap 88, but he didn’t fall far enough back for Gold to mount a second attack.
Foster won from Gold, who saw a second straight pole at this venue go begging in traffic, with Green able to put Turn 3 Motorsport in third place in Car No. 3. Ahmed and Nolan Siegel completed the top five, the latter driver having a quiet race for DEForce Racing.
Like Michael d’Orlando in the night’s earlier USF2000 race, the winner shot himself forward into the points lead as a result of the the oval points and a half awarded.
Provisionally, Foster has 183 to Gold’s 170, with Siegel third on 167, Ahmed fourth on 143 and Green fifth on 139.
The Indy Pro 2000 series has a week off before heading north to Elkhart Lake’s Road America June 9-12.
IndyPro 2000 Cooper Tires Freedom 90 – Race – Unofficial Results
|1||90||Louis Foster||Exclusive Autosport||90||LAP 90|
|2||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Hollinger Racing||90||1.4089|
|3||3||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||90||2.8177|
|4||47||Enaam Ahmed||Juncos Hollinger Racing||90||8.8081|
|5||8||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||90||9.3264|
|6||19||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||90||12.3952|
|7||1||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||89||1 LAPS|
|8||6||Salvador De Alba||Jay Howard Driver Develpment||89||1 LAPS|
|9||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||89||1 LAPS|
|10||2||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||89||1 LAPS|
|11||4||Braden Eves||Jay Howard Driver Development||88||2 LAPS|
|12||18||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||87||3 LAPS|
|13||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||84||6 LAPS|
|14||27||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||52||Contact|
|15||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||11||Handling|