By Steve Wittich
The always important Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Mid-Ohio) – this year a triple-header – began on Thursday with a trio of test sessions.
Pabst Racing duo Jace Denmark and Myles Rowe led a tightly packed combined timesheet. Denmark, twice a USF2000 winner and currently third in points, bested his teammate Myles Rowe by a slim three-hundredths of a second.
Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing) was also within three-tenths of a second, with the first dozen drivers within a half-second of Denmark.
Turn 3 Motorsport, USF2000 winners at Mid-Ohio last year, had a pair of drivers lead sessions. Dylan Christie was the quickest in the morning, and Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport) led the last session.
Combined Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USF2000 combined timesheet
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||FTime||SESSION||FAST LAP||DIFF.||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||23||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||2||82.848||—||56|
|2||22||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||2||82.879||-0.031||60|
|3||10||Thomas Nepveu||DEForce Racing||2||82.885||-0.037||53|
|4||3||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||2||83.056||-0.208||52|
|5||33||Spike Kohlbecker||Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport||3||83.107||-0.259||54|
|6||12||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||2||83.114||-0.266||46|
|7||92||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||3||83.116||-0.268||32|
|8||4||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||2||83.117||-0.269||57|
|9||61||Nicholas d’Orlando||VRD Racing||3||83.197||-0.349||60|
|10||11||Dylan Christie||DEForce Racing||2||83.211||-0.363||50|
|11||17||Nikita Johnson||VRD Racing||3||83.236||-0.388||46|
|12||32||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||3||83.266||-0.418||51|
|13||7||Lochie Hughes||Jay Howard Driver Development||2||83.394||-0.546||66|
|14||5||Nicky Hays||Cape Motorsports||2||83.498||-0.65||54|
|15||91||Joey Brienza||Exclusive Autosport||3||83.502||-0.887||45|
|16||30||Viktor Andersson||VRD Racing||3||83.735||-0.906||52|
|17||6||Evagoras Papasavvas||Jay Howard Driver Development||2||83.754||-0.906||60|
|18||9||Jorge Garciarce||Jay Howard Driver Development||2||83.847||-0.999||45|
|19||2||Jackson Lee||Cape Motorsports||2||83.997||-1.149||49|
|20||90||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||3||83.998||-1.15||53|
|21||8||Danny Dyszelski||Jay Howard Driver Development||2||84.037||-1.189||55|
|22||18||Maxwell Jamieson||DEForce Racing||2||85.555||-2.707||40|
Championship leader Michael d’Orlando, a three-time USF2000 winner at Mid-Ohio, had the eighth quickest lap on the combined timesheet. If the 20-year-old wins one more race on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course, he’ll tie fellow Cape Motorsports driver J.R. Hildebrand with four wins at the 60-year-old circuit.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Ohio schedule for USF2000 drivers is as follows:
|DAY & TIME||ITEM||FOLLOW|
|Friday – 8:45am – 9:15am||USF2000 Practice||USF2000.com / Road To Indy TV App|
|Friday – 11:10am – 11:40am||USF2000 Qualifying||USF2000.com / Road To Indy TV App|
|Friday – 5:15pm – 5:55pm||USF2000 Race #1 (20 laps or 40 minutes)||USF2000.com / Road To Indy TV App|
|Saturday – 10:45am – 11:25pm||USF2000 Race #2 (20 laps or 40 minutes)||USF2000.com / Road To Indy TV App|
|Saturday – 2:15pm – 2:45pm||USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 Autograph Session (Fan Village)|
|Saturday – 5pm – 5:40pm||USF2000 Race #3 (20 laps or 40 minutes)||USF2000.com / Road To Indy TV App|
The scholarship chase
After doling out 345 of 609 possible points in 10 of 18 scheduled races, only 37 points separate the top five on the championship table.
A quartet of veterans – d’Orlando, Rowe, Denmark, and Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) are joined by Cape Motorsports rookie and third-generation race Jagger Jones in the top five.
TSO Ladder is not yet counting the DEForce Racing duo of Bijoy Garg and Nepveu out of the hunt. The Texas-based team has a championship pedigree, winning the USF2000 driver and team championships last season.
This season’s championship hunt is quite different than last year. Reigning champion Kiko Porto was consistent, not finishing outside the top ten.
This year, the top five drivers have each scored single-digit points twice, signifying a finish outside of the top ten.
The eventual scholarship winner will be the driver that limits his mistakes and finishes races in the top ten. Top five finishes are optimal, but the top ten are also acceptable.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points standings after 10 of 18 races
|1||Michael d’Orlando||Cape Motorsports||217|
|2||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||211||-6|
|3||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||191||-26|
|4||Billy Frazer||Exclusive Autosport||184||-33|
|5||Jagger Jones – rookie||Cape Motorsports||180||-37|
|6||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||159||-58|
|7||Thomas Nepveu||DEForce Racing||154||-63|
|8||Spike Kohlbecker||Turn 3 Motorsport||127||-90|
|9||Christian Weir||Turn 3 Motorsport||123||-94|
|10||Simon Sikes||Legacy Autosport||119||-98|
|11||Nicky Hays||Cape Motorsports||105||-112|
|12||Dylan Christie||DEForce Racing||101||-116|
|13||Alex Quinn||Velocity Racing Development||93||-124|
|14||Jackson Lee||Cape Motorsports||86||-131|
|15||Jacob Douglas – rookie||Exclusive Autosport||77||-140|
|16||Jorge Garciarce – rookie||Jay Howard Driver Development||71||-146|
|17||Trey Burke||Joe Dooling Autosports||60||-157|
|18||Viktor Andersson – rookie||Velocity Racing Development||54||-163|
|19||Danny Dyszelski – rookie||Jay Howard Driver Development||36||-181|
|20||Yeeroo Lee||Jay Howard Driver Development||29||-188|
|21||Frankie Mossman||Jay Howard Driver Development||22||-195|
|22||Nicholas d’Orlando – rookie||Velocity Racing Development||20||-197|
|23||Chase Gardner||DEForce Racing||16||-201|
|24||Nikita Johnson – rookie||Velocity Racing Development||15||-202|
|25||Joey Brienza – rookie||Exclusive Autosport||12||-205|
|26||Frederik Lund||Jay Howard Driver Development||11||-206|
|27||Evagoras Papasavvas – rookie||Jay Howard Driver Development||1||-216|