#1 Michael d’Orlando, Turn 3 Motorsport, Focused Project Management, – Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

By Steve Wittich

Reigning USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tires champion Michael d’Orlando recovered from a mechanical issue that ruined yesterday’s race to score his first USF Pro 2000 Presented By Cooper Tires pole.

It’s the 21-year-old 11th career USF Pro 2000 Presented By Cooper Tires pole.

The pole is the seventh all-time pole for Turn 3 Motorsport and the Peter Dempsey-led team’s seventh all-time.

Two drivers, Francesco Pizzi (TJ Speed Motorsports) and Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing w/ Force Indy), were within a tenth of a second of the pole. The top 13 drivers were within one second of d’Orlando’s best lap.

Lirim Zendeli (TJ Speed Motorsports) rounds out the second row.

The 19 USF Pro 2000 drivers got the green flag at 10 am.

The ambient temperature was 77F, and there were some clouds, with a strong breeze from the west.

Once again, the drivers and teams had a half-hour window to complete 20 minutes of green flag time.

The red flag came out with 13 minutes remaining when the S Team Motorsports sponsored No. 90 came to a stop in the run-off after spinning through the grass after the rear end broke loose when he hit the brakes.

Zendeli had the best time at 119.818 seconds when the green flag returned. Salvador de Alba (Exclusive Autosport), Joel Granfors (Exclusive Autosport), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing) and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) rounded out the top five.

While under red, teams took the opportunity to bolt on fresh Cooper Tire slicks and make adjustments.

It only took one lap at speed for the times to start dropping. Looking for his second pole of the season, Pizzi was the first driver to grab the provisional pole.

However, the timing screen was lit up green as times quickly started to drop. d’Orlando and Pizzi spent the next five minutes trading the provisional pole.

With five minutes remaining d’Orlando held the provisional pole with a lap at 118.538 seconds, which was a scant five-hundredths of a second ahead of Pizzi. Rowe, Zendeli and Denmark rounded out the top five.

With just under three minutes remaining, the No. 81 of Nicholas Monteiro stopped on the driver’s right on the long run between Turn 6 and 7.

That brought out the red and checkered flag, giving d’Orlando his first USF Pro 2000 pole.

Cooper Tires USF Pro 2000 Sebring Grand Prix Race #2 Qualifying unofficial results

11Michael d’OrlandoTurn 3 Motorsport1:58.538——
255Francesco PizziTJ Speed Motorsports1:58.5940.056
399Myles RowePabst Racing w/Force Indy1:58.6160.078
410Lirim ZendeliTJ Speed Motorsports1:58.8190.281
520Jace DenmarkPabst Racing1:58.8510.313
691Salvador de AlbaExclusive Autosport1:58.8690.331
76Reece UshijimaJay Howard Driver Development1:58.9940.456
812Kiko PortoDEForce Racing1:59.0090.471
919Jordan MissigPabst Racing1:59.0510.513
1092Joel GranforsExclusive Autosport1:59.0960.558
112Jonathan BrowneTurn 3 Motorsport1:59.1520.614
1247Jackson LeeTurn 3 Motorsport1:59.3040.766
1340Jack William MillerMiller Vinatieri Motorsports1:59.4950.957
147Bijoy GargDEForce Racing1:59.7941.256
154Ricardo EscottoJay Howard Driver Development2:00.1121.574
1632Christian WeirTJ Speed Motorsports2:00.1551.617
1793Lindsay BrewerExclusive Autosport2:00.8812.343
1881Nicholas MonteiroNeoTech Motorsport2:01.1902.652
1990Yuven SundaramoorthyExclusive Autosport2:01.9573.419

The second 15-lap Cooper Tires USF Pro 2000 Sebring Grand Prix Race gets the green flag at 3:30 pm.