By Tony DiZinno
Both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Elkhart Lake, Wis. weather put on a show in its second race of the day at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Michael d’Orlando and Cape Motorsports rebounded after a tough race earlier in the day, while Myles Rowe delivered a second straight smart drive to ensure Pabst Racing stayed on the podium at its home track.
The 21 Tatuus cars got rolling on schedule at 3:20 p.m. for what turned into an eventful second race of the day and 10th round of the season.
D’Orlando led away from pole position in his No. 4 Focused Project Management car, while Billy Frazer tried again to go around the outside to get the lead. It didn’t work. The team posted that he was forced off course and after enduring a wild ride, Frazer came back on course exiting Turn 1 but down in 17th place.
Further back, Danny Dyszelski was stuck off course driver’s left at Turn 3. That brought out a full-course caution. During the yellow, Jackson Lee needed to pit, which dropped him down the order.
The race restarted at the end of Lap 4 and start of Lap 5.
D’Orlando was in a tough spot, having to hold off Rowe who tried on the outside and a motivated Bijoy Garg trying on the inside. While Rowe briefly got the lead, d’Orlando got him back on the inside of Turn 5 and completed the pass by Turn 6.
Frazer’s comeback drive stalled out when he contacted Jorge Garciarce at the Carousel, Turn 10, which pitched the No. 9 Jay Howard Driver Development car off course. The field got stacked up through the corner, which led the contact. This brought out a full course yellow.
At Lap 5, under yellow, the order was d’Orlando, Rowe, Garg, Nepveu and Denmark in the top five with Johnson, Jones, Hays, Christie and Kohlbecker in the top 10.
The planned restart was meant to occur at the end of Lap 6 and start of Lap 7, but was called off as Race Control received reports of heavy rain at Turn 10 – the Carousel where Garciarce had been stuck moments earlier. The rain increased and hit the front straight.
Sensing an opportunity to gamble, the Joe Dooling Autosports team called in Trey Burke to switch onto Cooper Tires wet weather tires.
But the potential benefits never came good because moments later, Race Control called a red flag for the weather.
The pace car was asked to take a lap to evaluate course conditions.
Reports came in that the rain was light and lessening from Turns 4 and 5 through 6-7-8, the same through Turn 12, and “consistently lightly wet” in Turns 13-14.
At 3:52 p.m., Race Control determined conditions were safe and dry enough to restart the race with no change in tires required. The green flag would fly the second time by, at the start of Lap 10.
A planned three-lap window was reduced to two due to time constraints with a time-certain 4:20 p.m. scheduled start for the NTT INDYCAR Series final practice session.
Rowe tried again to d’Orlando’s outside at start/finish on the restart but didn’t get the lead.
The white flag flew at the end of Lap 10 and there were no further changes at the top. Nepveu finished third behind d’Orlando up top and Rowe in second. Garg in fourth and Denmark in fifth completed the top five.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Road America Powered By Elite Engines – USF2000 Race #2 Unofficial Results
|1||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||11||LAP 11|
|2||22||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||11||0.3907|
|3||10||Thomas Nepveu||DEForce Racing||11||2.2057|
|4||12||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||11||2.4154|
|5||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||11||3.4610|
|6||11||Dylan Christie||DEForce Racing||11||3.9618|
|7||3||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||11||4.3197|
|8||17||Nikita Johnson||VRD Racing||11||4.9347|
|9||5||Nicky Hays||Cape Motorsports||11||5.8121|
|10||33||Spike Kohlbecker||Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport||11||6.0942|
|11||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||11||6.5059|
|12||92||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||11||7.1847|
|13||61||Nicholas d’Orlando||VRD Racing||11||7.2562|
|14||2||Jackson Lee||Cape Motorsports||11||7.8469|
|15||30||Viktor Andersson||VRD Racing||11||10.5077|
|16||9||Jorge Garciarce||Jay Howard Driver Development||11||11.6874|
|17||90||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||11||11.7092|
|18||91||Joey Brienza||Exclusive Autosport||10||In Pit|
|19||63||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||10||1 LAPS|
|20||8||Danny Dyszelski||Jay Howard Driver Development||1||Mechanical|
|21||6||Evagoras Papasavvas||Jay Howard Driver Development||—||DNS|