Archives for 2020 Road To Indy Coverage

Robb grabs emotional first Indy Pro 2000 win – DeFrancesco leads points, but five drivers are within 13 points

After two epically entertaining Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races to start the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders midweek event, it would not have been a shock if the final race was a snoozer.

Juncos Racing veteran Sting Ray Robb and the 16 other drivers made sure that wasn’t the case. Robb, who made his Indy Pro 2000 debut in 2017, drove from fifth to victory lane to celebrate an emotional first win.

An emotional Sting Ray Robb after winning his first career Indy Pro 2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“I started crying halfway through the in-lap, so that’s the only explanation I have for the emotions right now,” exclaimed Robb. “It’s almost overwhelming. All this time we’ve been waiting and working hard and finally, our day came. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve gotten in the Road to Indy the last few years. The car was stellar, we should have been on pole, but we were able to get into the lead and hold on. But Hunter was hot on my tail, huge props to him.”

Throughout his first four races of the season, rookie Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) had an average finish of 11.1. That slow start was a big surprise for a driver who stood on the USF2000 a dozen times in the previous season. It was also inevitable that a 20-year-old would find his way back to the pointy end of the grid. McElrea started the final race of the event on the inside of the fourth row but would make several impressive overtakes to finish second.

“That was a fun race. It’s been a really, really tough start to the season, so to have some momentum now, to be back where we belong and to show what we’ve got, it feels good,” said an obviously relieved McElrea. “It feels like a mini-win, since we chased Sting Ray down from so far back. It’s hard to pass here but in this race, I was able to get after it and get my elbows out a bit. Congrats to Sting Ray, I’m happy for him. It’s great to see him get his first win, even though I’d have liked to steal it from him! We’ll take this momentum back here next week and do it even better.”

Hunter McElrea leads Devlin DeFrancesco on track at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the 2019 USF2000 runner-up grabbed his first podium of the season (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Pole-sitter Jacob Loomis, who started on used tires after taking the gamble to bolt on fresh boots in Race #2, lost the lead on the first lap, but hung around for the entire race, crossing the line in third place.

Unfortunately, after the race, Loomis and his No. 36 from the BN Racing with Team Benik stable was disqualified for running afoul of rule 14.31.1. The rule states that the minimum car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, driver weight, and meet the following minimums: 1285 pounds.

Loomis’ disqualification promoted Andretti Steinbrenner Racing rookie Devlin DeFrancesco into the final podium spot. It also moved the pilot of the WTF1.com sponsored No. 17 into the points leads by a single point.

With four different winners and eight different podium visitors through the first five races of the season, it should be no surprise that the title fight for an advancement scholarship to Indy Lights has the top five separated by a slim 14 point margin.

Points after the first five races of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season

RANK DRIVER TOTAL
1 Devlin DeFrancesco 107
2 Sting Ray Robb 106
3 Danial Frost 101
4 Artem Petrov 100
5 Braden Eves 94
6 Parker Thompson 72
7 Manuel Sulaiman 68
8 Hunter McElrea 66
9 Colin Kaminsky 63
10 Antoine Comeau 57
11 Moisés de la Vara 55
12 Nate Aranda 52
13 Sabre Cook 47
14 Bob Kaminsky 46
15 Jacob Loomis 41
16 Charles Finelli 37
17 Kory Enders 25

 

Devlin DeFrancesco in his can’t miss it No. 17 from the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing stable is now the Indy Pro 2000 points leader (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Pole-sitter Loomis got through Turn 1 first as the 17 PM-18s made their way uphill on the long run to Turn 2, where chaos ensued. Race #1 winner Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) contacted another driver and was forced to come to the pit lane for repairs. He was able to get on track without losing a lap and worked his way back up to finish in ninth.

Further back in the field, Nate Aranda (Juncos Racing) and Sabre Cook (BN Racing with Team Benik) got tangled up. It looked like the issues might bring out a yellow flag, but all the drivers involved were able to re-fire their Elite Engine prepared 2.0L engines, and the race remained under green.

Meanwhile, upfront, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Loomis, and Frost barreled three-wide into Turn 4, with the Slick Locks sponsored No. 19 of Kaminsky arriving at “Madness” with the lead.

The running order after the first lap was: Kaminsky (Colin), Frost, Loomis, Robb, Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), Petrov, McElrea, DeFrancesco, Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing), Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing), Charles Finelli (Fatboy Racing!), Bob Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Antoine Comeau (Turn 3 Motorsport), Eves, Cook and Aranda.

Kaminsky’s lead to start lap 3 was 0.6 seconds over Frost, and on that same lap, Robb moved past Loomis for third. Further back, race #2 winner Artem Petrov dropped down the running order, coming to pit road for repairs from the Juncos Racing crew. They were able to get him back out on track on the lead lap, and the Russian was able to work his way back up to the eighth spot.

On Lap 4, Frost went to the outside of Kaminsky on the run downhill to Turn 4, and the two drivers went side-by-side through the next five corners. The pair reached Thunder Valley side-by-side, but they made contact, sliding into the grass. Both drivers were able to crawl to pit road, negating a full course caution.

That gave the lead to Robb, who had started in fifth place, while also promoting Loomis and Enders into podium positions.

On Lap 8, McElrea locked up the left front Cooper Tire on his Giltrap Group/Miles Advisory Partners/Doric NZ/Bell sponsored No. 18 in the downhill braking zone for Turn 4, but he was able to make a pass of Enders to move into third.

To start Lap 11, Robb’s lead over Loomis was 1.9 seconds, with the pole sitter facing immense pressure from McElrea. Enders was fourth but had his mirrors full of DeFrancesco.

On Lap 13, McElrea dove to the inside of Loomis in Turn 4, executing a text-book pass and setting out after Robb and the lead.

On the next lap, DeFrancesco made another pass, moving past Enders into fourth. Veteran Thompson, who started a disappointing tenth, gained his fourth spot of the race to move into sixth.

As Robb crossed the start-finish line to start Lap 15, the timing screen lit up green as he set his quickest lap of the race. But, immediately behind him, McElrea went even quicker, narrowing the lead to 1.3 seconds with ten laps remaining. The chase was well and thoroughly on now.

On Lap 17, Robb expertly negotiated lapped traffic and crossed the line with a 1.5-second advantage with seven laps left in the 25-lap event finale.

With five laps remaining, McElrea had whittled the lead down to just over one second. Loomis was 4.1 seconds adrift of the American-born Kiwi with DeFrancesco 1.5 seconds behind the BN Racing with Team Benik driver.

Over the next three laps, the driver turned similar lap times, with McElrea only able to gain a tenth of a second over the three circuits.

McElrea made some headway on the penultimate lap and took the white flag only 0.6 seconds behind Robb, who was dealing with lapped traffic as they made the long run to Turn 2. Robb, making his 49th career Indy Pro 2000 start had McElrea in his mirrors, but got a great drive off the 180-degree Turn 2 to make the rest of the lap a little less stressful.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #3 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM GAP
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 25 LAPS
2 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing -0.6377
3 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport -7.0262
4 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing -7.2521
5 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing -14.1309
6 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing -14.5984
7 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport -40.4328
8 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing -54.2496
9 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport -67.5025
10 57 Bob Kaminsky Pabst Racing -1 LAP
11 68 Danial Frost Turn 3 Motorsport -1 LAP
12 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing -2 LAPS
13 69 Nate Aranda Juncos Racing -2 LAPS
14 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing -4 LAPS
15 37 Sabre Cook BN Racing with Team Benik -11 LAPS
16 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -21 LAPS
DQ 36 Jacob Loomis BN Racing with Team Benik -5.5488

Rasmussen continues USF2000 dominance with fifth straight win to start the 2020 season

For the fifth straight time this year, and for the eighth time in the last 12 USF2000 races, it was the dynamic Dane Christian Rasmussen that visited victory lane in the final race of the event.

Rasmussen has scored all but one point possible in the first five races of the season.

Rasmussen was joined on the podium by Cape Motorsports sophomore Michael d’Orlando. For the third time during the USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders event.

On the pace lap, the Excel Labels No. 23 of Matthew Round-Garrido came to a stop on the outside of Turn 1 with significant damage to the left front suspension. At the same time, the Metalloid sponsored No. 20 of Cameron Shields ground to a halt at the exit of The Keyhole. Both cars required wreckers to clear, and the field was shown the red flag while the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got things cleaned up. Garrido was set to start fifth, and Shields was to start 12th.

The Elite Engines prepared engines were restarted, and the 20-lap race got underway with the front row of Rasmussen and Gold leading the way.

Rasmussen got a slight jump, with Gold, d’Orlando, and Brooks going three-wide into Turn 1. d’Orlando was able to get a better launch off the left-hand Turn 1 and beat his teammate Gold to The Keyhole.

The running order at the end of the first lap was: Rasmussen, d’Orlando, Gold, Brooks, Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Ayrton Ori (Legacy Autosport), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Max Kaeser (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Round-Garrido and Shields.

On the second lap, Siegel, who started fourth, went wide at Turn 9, dropping down the running order to 17th.

On Lap 6, the lead for Rasmussen was 0.9 seconds over d’Orlando. Behind the front group, Miller, in fifth, was facing massive pressure from fellow second-generation racer Barrichello.

Things settled in for the next few laps, and at the halfway point of the 20 lap race was 1.3 seconds over d’Orlando, who was closely followed by Gold and Brooks, who were all covered by 3.7 seconds. Miller, in the Indy Dental Group/LLC/Lumist, sponsored No. 40, was in fifth.

Gold was starting to put some pressure on his teammate, which allowed Rasmussen to pull out to an almost three-second gap when he crossed the start/finish line with five laps remaining.

Green was the quickest driver on the track with four laps left and started to put pressure on Barrichello for the sixth spot.

Rasmussen turned the quickest lap of the race with two laps left, pulling away to a 4.3-second lead. Behind the leader, Gold was pressuring d’Orlando, looking for the outside pass in Turn 4. He wasn’t quite able to get it completed and tucked back in behind his teammate.

On the final lap, Gold once again got a great run off the Keyhole. The teammates went side-by-side through Turn 4 and Turn 5 before d’Orlando shut the door, solidifying the second step of the podium.

Unofficial race results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM GAP
1 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 20 laps
2 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 6.0752
3 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 6.4967
4 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 7.1021
5 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 11.1801
6 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 11.7782
7 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 12.0917
8 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 15.3848
9 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 21.8806
10 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 24.3285
11 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 24.8121
12 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 25.1761
13 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 27.2051
14 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 29.1497
15 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport 38.5021
16 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 38.8384
17 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 39.3888
18 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport -2 LAPS
19 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing -20 LAPS
20 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport -20 LAPS

Petrov drives away on a damp track – championship contenders struggle making a tight points battle even closer

By Steve Wittich

In the best of weather, the track surface at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is continually evolving; add some moisture to that, and ‘anything’ can happen.

This time, ‘anything’ suited 20-year-old Juncos Racing driver Artem Petrov, after grabbing the lead on Lap 7, drove away from the chaos that unfolded behind him.

The win is the second time that Road To Success / Bell/ 226ers No. 42 has visited victory lane in 2020. The win is the fourth victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Juncos Racing, with Petrov joining Victor Franzoni and Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) as winners in Ohio for the Speedway, Ind. based team.

Coming second for the second time this season was Andretti Steinbrenner Racing rookie Devlin DeFrancesco, who gained most of the six spots from his eighth starting spot as the track got slicker with moisture.

The “most eventful” race award goes to Petrov’s Juncos Racing teammate Sting Ray Robb. The Idahoan started on the outside of the front row, fell to sixth, moved back to fourth, fell to sixth again, and ended up with his ninth career Indy Pro 2000 podium.

Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport) and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), who led the first six laps of the race, had late issues, dropping them to eighth and ninth place, making an already title fight even tighter.

Only 15 points separate the top five in points after the first four Indy Pro 2000 races of 2020.

Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport)- 90
Artem Petrov (Juncos Racing) – 87
Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing) – 85
Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) – 82
Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing) – 75

The front row of Eves and Robb slowly brought the field to the green flag. Eves got a great start, and Robb had to defend against Frost.

As the field went into Turn 4, Petrov, Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), and Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing) were three-wide, with the Juncos Racing Russian driver holding fourth.

The running order after the first lap was: Eves, Robb, Frost, Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing), Petrov, McElrea, DeFrancesco, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing), Nate Aranda (Juncos Racing), Moisés de la Vara (DEForce Racing), Antoine Comeau (Turn 3 Motorsport), Sabre Cook (BN Racing with Team Benik), Bob Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Charles Finelli (Fatboy Racing!), Jacob Loomis (BN Racing with Team Benik) and Kory Enders (DEForce Racing).

On the second lap, Petrov able to move back to his fourth starting spot.

On the next lap, Petrov gained another position going by Frost for the final spot on the podium. Further back, DeFrancesco, Sulaiman, and de la Vera also made up spots.

Robb planted himself right on the gearbox of Eves, putting immense pressure on Eves.

As the field started Lap 5, the lead was a slim 0.4 seconds, but things were about to get heated.

Eves, Robb, and Petrov went into the braking zone of Turn 4 three-wide. Robb grabbed the lead briefly through “Madness” but got loose, letting Eves retake the lead and allowing his teammate Petrov to move into second.

On Lap 6, Robb, Frost, and Thompson went three-wide into The Keyhole, with Thompson moving past the two drivers in front of him to grab the podium’s last spot.

On Lap 7, Petrov went to outside Eves going into Turn 4, getting the pass completed before they got to the corner. Right behind them, DeFrancesco went to inside Robb, moving past the Juncos Racing veteran to move into the top five.

The yellow flag came out on Lap 8, bringing a brief reprise in the hectic action. The cause of the caution was the Slick Locks sponsored No. 19 of Colin Kaminsky, who had an incident in Turn 4 while running in ninth place.

The running order when the field got the green flag to start lap 10 was: Petrov, Eves, Thompson, Frost, DeFrancesco, Robb, Sulaiman, McElrea, de la Vera, Cook, Aranda, Comeau, Kaminsky, Finelli, Loomis, Kaminsky and Enders.

Lap 12 was a busy one with Frost getting by Thompson for the last spot on the podium. Also, making passes for position was Robb and McElrea.

Petrov’s lead to start Lap 15 was 1.8 seconds. Behind the leader, Eves was being pressured by Frost, Thompson, and Robb. Further back, McElrea was right on the gearbox of DeFrancesco.

On Lap 17, Frost looked to the outside of Eves in Turn 2 and Turn, but the Ohio born driver was able to hold onto the second step of the podium.

On the next lap, Robb made an aggressive pass around the outside of Thompson to move back into fourth place. Robb’s spot in fourth didn’t last long as he fell back two spots on the next lap.

Further back in the field, Cook had her hands mirrors full of Aranda and Comeau for the final spot in the top 10.

With five laps remaining, Petrov’s lead had grown to 3.7 seconds over Eves. Frost was still pressuring Wednesday’s winner.

The skies started to get darker, and a light rain began to make an already slick 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course even more treacherous.

Eves, from second, was facing immense pressure as the field streamed towards the Keyhole; the Race #1 winner had an issue in the famous 180-degree corner, falling to ninth in the running order. That moved the European trained DeFrancesco into second, while Frost remained in third. Robb and Thompson rounded out the Top 5.

On Lap 23, Robb moved back onto the podium, making a clean pass of Frost in Turn 4.

As the white flag flew, moisture started falling from the sky, and the track was getting slick. Frost tried to pass Robb in Turn 5, but the two made contact with the points leader Frost dropping to eighth.

Petrov pulled away to an impressive 8.2-second win with DeFrancesco crossing the line second and Robb staying on track after the contact to grab a podium.

With the Race #3 grid set by Race #2 lap times, Loomis, Kaminsky, and Enders, all had early race issues, and all put on fresh rubber to earn a good starting spot.

It was an excellent strategy for all three drivers as they will start in the top three spots for the final Indy Pro 2000 race of the event.

Loomis, with a lap of 78.091 seconds, will start on the pole with Kaminsky starting outside of him and Enders starting right behind him. Frost shall begin on the second row with Enders with the Juncos Racing teammates of Robb and Petrov starting in the third row.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 Unofficial Results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM GAP
1 42 Artem Petrov 25 25 laps
2 17 Devlin DeFrancesco 25 -8.2618
3 2 Sting Ray Robb 25 -8.9821
4 9 Parker Thompson 25 -9.7453
5 8 Manuel Sulaiman 25 -10.0321
6 18 Hunter McElrea 25 -10.1745
7 6 Moises de la Vara 25 -12.0864
8 68 Danial Frost 25 -12.9307
9 1 Braden Eves 25 -16.4613
10 69 Nate Aranda 25 -17.5401
11 3 Antoine Comeau 25 -17.7742
12 37 Sabre Cook 25 -18.696
13 57 Bob Kaminsky 25 -42.5369
14 83 Charles Finelli 25 -43.4898
15 19 Colin Kaminsky 24 -1 LAPS
16 36 Jacob Loomis 19 -6 LAPS
17 7 Kory Enders 15 -10 LAPS

Rasmussen wins 4th race to start the 2020 USF2000 season – Gold goes from bronze to silver – Siegel grabs first podium

For the fourth straight race to start the 2020 USF2000 season, it was Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore Christian Rasmussen that drove his JHDD, CSU|One Cure/ Lucas Oil sponsored No. 6 into victory lane.

For the second straight race, fellow sophomore Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) started on the outside of the front row, and this time he was able to hold that spot through the first lap and was able to keep Rasmussen in his sights, improving one place from his third-place finish in Wednesday’s race.

Rounding out the podium was another sophomore and first-time podium visitor. Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development) was able to perfectly defend 20 laps to stand on his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium.

The first of two Thursday USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders races rolled off at 11:30 am with a front row of Rasmussen and Gold bringing the field to the green flag.

The 20 drivers were clean on Lap 1, and the running order and when they crossed under the starter to complete lap #1 was: Rasmussen, Gold, Siegel, Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Cameron Shields (Legacy Autosport), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Max Kaeser (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Ayrton Ori (Legacy Autosport) and Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport)

The running order at the end of the first lap was: 6 3 9 44 23 21 40 8 7 2 20 1 12 22 5 18 4 41 41 27 16

The most significant early mover was Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), who had gained three spots over the first two laps.

At the start of Lap 3, Gold was still within 0.8 seconds of the leader and was pushing hard. The front pair had pulled a gap of 2.5 seconds over third-place Siegel, who was defending against Brooks, Round-Garrido, Sundaramoorthy, and Dupell.

On Lap 4, Brooks looked to the inside of Siegel into the Keyhole, but the Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore was able to hold onto the spot, getting a better run down to Turn 4 and holding the final spot on the podium.

To start Lap 5, Rasmussen’s lead had grown to 1.5 seconds over Gold. On the next lap, Gold set the quickest lap of the race to that point, moving a little closer to the leader. Rasmussen reset the fast lap on the next lap, extending his lead again.

Siegel was almost four seconds behind Gold, but after the immense pressure of the opening laps, he built just over a one-second gap to Brooks. Round-Garrido was hassling the Exclusive Autosport driver.

Rasmussen’s lead over Gold when the crossed-flags were shown to signify the 20 lap race’s halfway point was 2.5 seconds. Siegel was 4.7 seconds behind Gold, with Brooks, Round-Garrido, Sundaramoorthy, Dupell, Miller, Green, and Shields rounding out the top ten.

On Lap 10, Miller was battling the Cape Motorsports duo of Dupell and Green. Contact was made in the Turn 5, Turn 6, and Turn 7 portion of the track. Miller was forced to pit road with damage to his front wing.

The yellow flag was shown to the field on Lap 12 for the No. 5 of Brichacek, who had an issue in Turn 11 and the No. 27 of Ayrton Ori, who spun in Turn 9.

The running order under yellow was Rasmussen, Gold, Siegel, Round-Garrido, Brooks, Sundaramoorthy, Dupell, Green, Shields, d’Orlando, Barrichello, Bogle, Campbell, Garg, Kaeser, Peirson, Miller, Porto, Ori and Brichacek.

The Road To Indy pace car pulled off the track, and the green flag came back out to begin Lap 16.

The battling in the top 10 on the first back to green was fierce, but all the drivers were able to hold their positions.

On Lap 17, Round-Garrido was forced to play defense against Brooks. Also involved in that battle was Sundaramoorthy.

1.5 seconds 2 remaining – Seigel pressured by Round Garrido and Brooks

On the final lap, Round-Garrido took a look inside of Siegel in Turn 4, but the 15-year-old was able to hold off Round-Garrido to grab his first career podium.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Unofficial Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM GAP
1 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 20 LAPS
2 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 2.2147
3 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 5.6285
4 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 6.1497
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 6.4809
6 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 6.8883
7 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 7.3741
8 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 7.8007
9 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 8.1408
10 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 8.4539
11 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 8.8217
12 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 9.2542
13 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 10.1769
14 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 11.5581
15 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 11.9504
16 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 12.6219
17 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -1 LAPS
18 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing -2 LAPS
19 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport -9 LAPS
20 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -11 LAPS
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Eves uses a last minute flier to grab Indy Pro 2000 pole in close qualifying session

By Steve Wittich

So far, so good for Braden Eves in his home race. After leading the lone Indy Pro 2000 practice session, the Gahanna, Ohio native, grabbed his first Indy Pro 2000 pole with a lap of 76.434 seconds in the Road To Indy/Cooper Tires/MDRN Livery/CCFI/Huston Insurance No. 1.

The top eight drivers covered by a slim half-second margin and Eves was an even skinnier three-hundredths over current championship points leader Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport).

Veterans Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing) and Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing) will start on the second row.

With an ambient temperature of 84F and feels like temperature of a humid 86F, the first of two Indy Pro 2000 qualifying sessions got underway with the 17 entries, all taking quickly to the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.

The first driver to complete a lap at speed was Sting Ray Robb in the Firehouse/Goodheart Animal Health Centers sponsored No. 2 Juncos Racing PM-18.

Robb also led after all drivers had completed their second laps, was quickly followed by Juncos Racing teammate Petrov.

Over the next few minutes, Parker Thompson and then Braden Eves grabbed the provisional pole, but all drivers were just getting their fresh Cooper rubber up to temperature.

Just before the halfway point, Devlin DeFrancesco led several drivers that came to the attention of their crews to make adjustments to their cars for the second half of qualifying.

At the halfway point of the session, 20 minutes of guaranteed qualifying time was Eves, one of two drivers with laps under 77 seconds. Frost, Hunter McElrea, Parker Thompson, and Artem Petrov made up the rest of the top five and were all within two-tenths of a second of Eves.

With nine minutes left in the 20-minute session, the top 11 drivers were within one second of eves.

It took a few laps to get the fresh rubber up to temperature before the lap times started to come down.

With just under five-minutes left qualifying, Robb jumped to the to provisional pole. That didn’t last long as Thompson, and then Frost quickly supplanted him.

At the 18 minute point of qualifying, drivers sector times were showing green, with the Pabst Racing duo of Colin Kaminsky and Hunter McElrea improved.

With one minute remaining, Eves turned in a flier that was only two-thousandths behind Frost.

The reigning USF2000 driver wasn’t done though, going quicker on his final lap and stealing the pole from Frost.

Indy Pro 2000 unofficial qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:16.434 –.—-
2 68 Danial Frost Turn 3 Motorsport 1:16.474 0.0394
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:16.614 0.1795
4 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing 1:16.704 0.2693
5 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:16.747 0.3130
6 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:16.834 0.3993
7 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:16.838 0.4040
8 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing 1:16.942 0.5079
9 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.230 0.7960
10 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:17.516 1.0818
11 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:17.607 1.1722
12 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:17.624 1.1893
13 69 Nate Aranda Juncos Racing 1:17.637 1.2027
14 37 Sabre Cook BN Racing with Team Benik 1:18.238 1.8038
15 57 Bob Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:19.501 3.0662
16 36 Jacob Loomis BN Racing with Team Benik 1:19.680 3.2456
17 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing 1:20.528 4.0932

Pabst Racing pilot Eduardo Barrichello grabs first career USF2000 pole – top six within two-tenths

For the first time in his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career, Eduardo Barrichello will start a USF2000 race from the pole.

The second-generation driver turned a lap of 81.733 seconds in his Ale sponsored No. 22 Pabst Racing machine. That gave him a gap of only four-thousandths-of-a-second over fellow sophomore Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports).

With only two-tenths of a second covering the top six drivers, it was one of the closest USF2000 qualifying sessions that we’ve witnessed.

The first of two qualifying sessions for the USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders got started right on time at 1:30 pm.

There were a few fluffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky, with an ambient temperature of 83F.

The first driver to complete a lap at speed was Rasmussen, but early in the session, the drivers were busy getting their Cooper Tires up to the optimal operating temperature. Most teams had bolted on a sticker set of Coopers for qualifying after utilizing a set carried over from Road America during the morning practice session.

When most drivers had completed only three laps and with just under 15-minutes remaining in the session, Barrichello, who led the morning practice, was the quickest driver.

With eight minutes remaining in the session, it was Cape Motorsports sophomore Reece Gold with a lap at 82.044 seconds that was the quickest driver, with Rasmussen, Green, Barichello, and Duppel in the top five.

Rasmussen was the first driver to turn a lap below 82 seconds, but every driver on track got quicker and quicker.

With five minutes remaining in the session, the top ten drivers on the timing screen were all within a half-second of Rasmussen, and 16 of the 20 drivers were within one second.

Gold was the second driver to hold the provisional pole in the last five minutes of the session, but he wouldn’t last.

With three minutes remaining, Barichello had moved back to the provisional pole, with the top five drivers all within two-tenths-of-a-second of the top spot.

With just over one minute left in the session, the red flag came out for Bijoy Garg, ending the session and giving Eduardo Barrichello his first career pole.

Unofficial Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:21.733 –.—-
2 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:21.738 0.0045
3 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.857 0.1238
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:21.892 0.1583
5 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:21.925 0.1917
6 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:21.937 0.2033
7 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.050 0.3166
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:22.059 0.3254
9 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:22.152 0.4185
10 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:22.229 0.4954
11 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:22.264 0.5303
12 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 1:22.318 0.5851
13 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:22.336 0.6030
14 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.451 0.7175
15 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:22.664 0.9303
16 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.745 1.0113
17 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.790 1.0569
18 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport 1:23.096 1.3631
19 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:23.196 1.4626
20 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:23.467 1.7341

The first of three USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders get the green flag at 4:30 pm.

Eves leads the first and only Indy Pro 2000 practice session at Mid-Ohio

By Steve Wittich

The top three in the lone Indy Pro 2000 practice session for the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders were separated by less than two-tenths of a second.

Leading the way, with a lap timed at 77.513 seconds, was defending Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion and Exclusive Autosport rookie Braden Eves.

He was joined in the top three by fellow rookie Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing) and sophomore Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport).

The lone Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires practice session got started at 11:15 am. The temperature when the 30-minute session got started was 80F, and the wind was blowing briskly from the south.

The red flag came out with only six minutes gone in the session for a car that had come to a stop at pit exit and so that the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team could complete a track inspection.

At that point in the session, the quickest driver was points leader Frost at 79.635 seconds, but most drivers had not yet turned a lap at speed.

The car that had caused the red after dropping a bunch of gearbox fluid in Turn 4, 5 and 6, was the DAN-JET sponsored No. 68 of Frost. The problem was not terminal as the Singaporean driver was able to get back out on the track.

After a lengthy delay for clean-up, the session was extended, and when the green flag came back out, the time remaining clock read 25-minutes.

Frost quickly lowered the time-to-beat to 78.864 seconds, and for the first 20 minutes of the session was the only driver to break the 79-second barrier.

With just under 10-minutes left in the session, the time to beat was lowered again. Once again, it was Frost, who turned the first lap under 78 seconds.

In desperate need of a bounce-back weekend, Thompson spent quite a bit of time with the second quickest time and was the third driver to turn a lap under 78 seconds.

With five minutes left in the session, Frost and Eves were the only drivers with laps in the 77-second range.

With two minutes left in the session, Frost was finally knocked off the top spot by Eves in the Road To Indy/Cooper Tires/MDRN Livery/CCFI/Huston Insurance sponsored No. 1.

TSO was told that Eves was quick during the recent Road To Indy test at Mid-Ohio, but was having transponder issues. It’s always nice to know that a source was being honest.

Late in the session, pole sitter at Road America Sulaiman threw down a flier, that wasn’t quick enough to top Eves but did move him ahead of Frost with the second-fastest lap.

Another rookie, Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea, turned the quickest lap of the session on his final lap.

Qualifying for the first Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders race starts at 2:15 pm.

Results of Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders practice

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:17.513   19
2 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:17.655 0.1419 17
3 68 Danial Frost Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.678 0.1650 18
4 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:17.798 0.2852 12
5 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing 1:17.814 0.3015 15
6 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing 1:18.216 0.7034 16
7 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:18.511 0.9977 16
8 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:18.646 1.1332 11
9 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.666 1.1535 18
10 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:18.703 1.1901 16
11 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:18.784 1.2710 16
12 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:19.150 1.6372 17
13 36 Jacob Loomis BN Racing with Team Benik 1:19.241 1.4843 13
14 69 Nate Aranda Juncos Racing 1:19.520 2.0073 17
15 37 Sabre Cook BN Racing with Team Benik 1:19.605 2.0919 18
16 57 Bob Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:21.742 4.2295 14
17 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing 1:23.583 6.0700 16

Pabst Racing duo of Barrichello and Sundaramoorthy lead lone USF2000 session at Mid-Ohio

By Steve Wittich

Missing the recent USF2000 open test certainly didn’t slow down the Pabst Racing sophomore duo of Eduardo Barrichello and Yuven Sundaramoorthy. Second-generation racer Barrichello led the way with a lap timed at 82.356 seconds, which was only two-hundredths quicker than his teammate in second place.

A baker’s dozen drivers were within Barichello, with championship leader Christian Rasmussen in only ninth place.

The lone 30-minute practice session of the USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders event got underway promptly at 10 am.

The 20 USF-17s powered by Elite Engine 2.0L power plants took to the track with sunny skies and warm temperatures. The ambient temperature was 79F, and the humidity was a sticky 66%.

Sophomore Rasmussen was the early leader in the practice session.

At the halfway point of the session championship points leader, Rasmussen had the quickest lap time at 83.035 seconds. He was followed in the top five by Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Sundaramoorthy, and Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports). At that point in the session, the top 12 drivers were all within one second of the top spot.

Times quickly started to fall as the drivers got the green race track cleaned off and their Cooper Tires up to the proper operating temperature. Green was the first driver to turn a sub-83-second lap, but Brooks quickly surpassed that.

With 11-minutes remaining in the session, the red flag came out for a quick tow-in.

Brooks was still the quickest at that time with a lap of 82.677 seconds. The driver of the HotWheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44, was followed in the top ten by Barrichello, Sundaramoorthy, Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Rasmussen, Siegel, Miller, Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Matthew Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing).

With seven minutes left in the 30-minute session, the green flag came back out, and all of the drivers were quickly back on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.

The first driver to improve his time was sophomore Siegel, but it didn’t take long for the timing screen to light up with green laps as drivers lowered their quickest times.

With two minutes remaining, Barrichello moved to the top of the timing screen, but that didn’t last long. Green and Sundaramoorthy knocked the Pabst Racing sophomore from the top spot. However, on his very last lap of the session, the Brazilian went quicker, ending the long practice session at the top of the timing screen.

The 20 drivers turned a total of 305 laps, with six drivers leading the way with 19 laps completed.

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track for a half-hour qualifying session at 1:30 pm.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders practice session results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:22.356   19
2 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:22.385 0.0292 19
3 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:22.480 0.0238 17
4 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:22.677   11
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:22.696 0.2400 14
6 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.871 0.4144 19
7 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.955 0.4990 19
8 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:22.989 0.5326 14
9 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:23.035 0.3572 12
10 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:23.091 0.6350 15
11 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:23.272 0.9156 18
12 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:23.286 0.8297 19
13 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:23.322 0.8653 17
14 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:23.534 1.0776 17
15 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:23.667 1.2104 17
16 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 1:23.924 1.5682 13
17 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport 1:24.083 1.6262 19
18 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:24.308 1.9523 17
19 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:25.185 2.5078 8
20 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:36.320 5.8199 1

Previewing the mid-week USF2000 race ‘weekend’ at Mid-Ohio

Over the next week and a couple of days, a 2.258-mile, 13-Turn road course will help determine the favorites to win the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship title and generous advancement scholarship that goes with it.

The lowest rung on the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is set to contest their 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th, and 60th series races at the Lexington, Ohio road course between now and August 9th.

The 180 points on offer in the six races equate to a little more than a third of the points on offer for the entire season.

There is an excellent chance that the season-long champion will win one of the six races. Last year’s champion Braden Eves was only the fourth eventual champion that did not win a race in the 21 previous seasons that USF2000 has competed at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Previous Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

YEAR DRIVER TEAM STARTING SPOT
2019 Race #2 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1
2019 Race #1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 2
2018 Race #3 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports 2
2018 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports 2
2018 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports 1
2017 Race #2 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 1
2017 Race #1 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports 1
2016 Race #3 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports 1
2016 Race #2 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports 1
2016 Race #1 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports 1
2015 Race #3 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports 1
2015 Race #2 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports 1
2015 Race #1 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports 1
2014 Race #3 Florian Latorre Cape Motorsports 1
2014 Race #2 Jake Eidson Cape Motorsports 6
2014 Race #1 RC Enerson Team E Racing 2
2013 Race #3 Garett Grist Andretti Autosport 1
2013 Race #2 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports 1
2013 Race #1 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports 1
2012 Race #2 Scott Anderson Belardi Auto Racing 1
2012 Race #1 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports 1
2011 Race #2 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports 1
2011 Race #1 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports 1
2006 Race #4 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports 2
2006 Race #3 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports 1
2006 Race #2 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports 1
2006 Race #1 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports 1
2005 Race #4 Jay Howard Aiken Racing 2
2005 Race #3 Joey Foster Cape Motorsports 1
2005 Race #2 Jay Howard Aiken Racing 2
2005 Race #1 Jay Howard Aiken Racing 1
2004 Race #4 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing 1
2004 Race #3 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing 1
2004 Race #2 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing 5
2004 Race #1 Andre Prendeville Andersen Walko Racing 2
2003 Race #4 Jonathan Bomarito PR1 Motorsports 2
2003 Race #3 Jonathan Bomarito PR1 Motorsports 1
2003 Race #2 Westley Barber Cape Motorsports 1
2003 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Pabst Racing 2
2002 Race #3 Ross Fonferko Cape Motorsports 5
2002 Race #2 Bryan Sellers Cape Motorsports 1
2002 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Pabst Racing 3
2001 Race #3 Jason LaPoint Richard Morgan Racing 1
2001 Race #2 Doug Bell Cape Motorsports 2
2001 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Tonis Kasemets 1
1999 Race #2 Jeff Wright Cape Motorsports 4
1999 Race #1 Dan Wheldon Primus Racing 2
1998 Race #2 David Besnard Primus Racing 1
1998 Race #1 David Besnard Primus Racing 1
1997 Zak Morioka Hayes Motorsports 1
1996 Steve Knapp Miller Miling/Elite Engines 1
1995 Race #2 Jeret Schroeder 2
1995 Race #1 Memo Gidley Cape Motorsports 2
1993 Chris Simmons SOTARE Racing 2

TSO Ladder Five

1) Can anybody stop the dominant Dane?

Christian Rasmussen, a Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore, started the 2020 USF2000 season with a perfect weekend at Road America. The 20-year-old scored the maximum 66 points, starting on pole, leading all the available laps, and setting the fastest lap in each race.

That performance leaves Rasmussen with a 19 point championship lead as the series heads to the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course for six straight races.

2020 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points table

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Christian Rasmussen 66
2 Josh Green – R 47 -19
3 Michael d’Orlando 42 -24
4 Eduardo Barrichello 39 -27
5 Matthew Round-Garrido 38 -28
6 Cameron Shields 29 -37
7 Christian Bogle 27 -39
8 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 25 -41
9 Prescott Campbell – R 20 -46
10 Kyle Dupell 18 -48
11T Bijoy Garg – R 16 -50
11T Reece Gold 16 -50
13T Christian Brooks – R 14 -52
13T Ayrton Ori – R 14 -52
13T Nico Christodoulou – R 14 -52
16 Jack William Miller 11 -55
17 Josh Pierson – R 10 -56
18T Max Kaeser – R 9 -57
18T Wyatt Brichacek – R 9 -57
20 Nolan Siegel 8 -58

“Race wins are always the goal, but the main focus right now is to extend the points lead and continue being consistent and winning races,” said Rasmussen. “We are thinking championship, so that’s the most important thing right now. Mid-Ohio has always been good to me: I won there in F4 and won there again last year. It’s a very technical, flowing track and I love that. And the team has always been strong there so I’m looking forward to keeping the winning streak going. I need to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing. The team is doing a good job, and I’m doing everything I can away from the track to stay fit, ready and sharp. We’re on the right path and we want to stay that way.”

Christian Rasmussen during a recent USF2000 test day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Rasmussen’s recent on-track prowess goes back to the middle of the 2019 season; he has five wins and nine trips to the podium in the last ten USF2000 races.

How has the Coppenhagen, Denmark native faired in his past visits to the demanding central Ohio road course?

Superb, and that might be an understatement. Rasmussen won his second career USF2000 start at Mid-Ohio last year, and in five races across USF2000 and the F4, United States Championship has three wins, two second-place finishes and has led a total of 40-laps.

The one hope that his competition has is Rasmussen’s results in official series testing at Mid-Ohio in June. The sophomore could only manage the 7th best time.


2) Will Cape dominance at Mid-O return?

Before last year, the last time that a Cape Motorsports driver didn’t visit victory lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was in 2004. The Brownsburg, Ind. team leads all of the pertinent categories at the Lexington, Ohio road course.

  • Wins – 28
  • Poles – 27
  • Podiums – 55

The list of drivers who have podiums for Cape Motorsports includes six drivers who have made NTT INDYCAR® SERIES starts. Neil Alberico, Oliver Askew, Westley Barber, Matthew Brabham, Doug Bell, Dane Cameron, Wade Cunningham, Jake Eidson, Ross Fonferko, Joey Foster, Peter Gray, Memo Gidley, Scott Hargrove, JR Hildebrand, Trent Hindman, Nico Jamin, Kyle Kirkwood, Florian Latorre, Anthony Martin, Chris Meredith, Spencer Pigot, Bryan Sellers, Petri Suvanto, Aaron Telitz, Parker Thompson, Bobby Wilson, and Jeff Wright are the drivers that have stood on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course podium for Cape Motorsports.

Cape Motorsports driver Bryan Sellers leads current Pabst Racing engineer Tonis Kasemets during a 2002 USF2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course ((Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Drivers representing the team led three of the four test sessions during the recent open test at Mid-Ohio. They ended the test with four of the top five spots on the combined timesheet, including the quickest lap of the test, set by Michael d’Orlando.

3) Start up front, finish up front

In the previous 54 USF2000 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the average starting position of the winning driver is 1.6. The driver starting on pole has won 62.9% (34 of 54) races and the the winner has come from outside of the front two rows on only five occasions. That includes a ten-race stretch between 2014 and 2018 where the pole sitter also visited victory lane.

If you need more proof that qualifying well on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course is essential – in the last 33 races, the eventual winner has started from outside the first row on a single occasion. In 2014, Cape Motorsports pilot Jake Eidson won a very wet race from sixth on the starting grid.

Jake Eidson is interviewed after storming form sixth to the win in a wet USF2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

4) Making his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires appearance

Unfortunately, due to travel restriction brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazilian rookie Kiko Porto was forced to miss the season-opening pair of races at Road America.

The 16-year-old was able to re-enter the United States recently and will start his season with DEForce Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto during the lone USF2000 in St. Petersburg, Fla. in March (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Porto spent the 2019 racing season with the Houston, Texas-based DEForce Racing and finished second in the season-long F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda championship. He also had some success at Mid-Ohio, winning once and finishing in the top ten in all three of his starts in 2019.

“I can’t say how happy I am to finally be able to go back and do my first race in USF2000,” said Porto. “All these months of expectation and uncertainty are left behind, and now all I want to do is get in the car and do my job. I will do my best to make sure our results make up for the time we lost due to the pandemic.”

5) Three other stories/drivers to watch

#1

Pabst Racing sophomore Yuven Sundaramoorthy made his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship debut at Mid-Ohio in 2018, twice finishing in the top ten in his first series action.

The recent high-school graduate, a native of Oconomowoc, Wisc., made a total of eight F1600 Championship Series starts in 2017 and 2018, winning once and standing on the podium five times.

The 17-year-old showed a lot of pace during the Mid-Ohio weekend last year, starting the pair of races in third and fourth, and collecting his best finish of the season. A sixth place in Race #1.

TSO Ladder expects Sundaramoorthy to contend for podiums this week.

#2

The Cape Motorsports quartet, consisting of Michael d’Orlando, Kyle Dupell, Josh Green, and Reece Gold scored four of the top five spots on the combined timesheet during a late June test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Rookie Green, with a pair of podiums at Road America, currently sits second in the championship, only five points ahead of d’Orlando, his sophomore teammate.

Green will be making his first Road To Indy starts at Mid-Ohio, but does have a win and a pair of podium finishes in three F1600 Championship Series races last year.

Eighteen-year-old d’Orlando has three USF2000, and three F4 United States Championship starts at Mid-Ohio, finishing in the top ten twice in each series.

“I have some great teammates and that helps, since we’re always pushing each other to get faster,” said d’Orlando, who posted the fastest time during a preseason test at Mid-Ohio last month. “We’re sharing information, so we don’t have to do it on our own – but that can be a hindrance as well because I know three other fast guys are learning the exact same things I am. That means I have to try just that little bit more to try and beat them.

“I’m super excited to get to Mid-Ohio. We learned so much from the test, so that’s good knowing we have six races there over the next two weeks. It’s a track I feel we’re strong at so I’m ready to go out and give it my all.”

Gold, who needs to put a disappointing Road America weekend in the rearview mirror, led one of the recent test session at the central Ohio track. Gold made two starts at Mid-Ohio last year, finishing ninth and 12th.

The fourth member of the Cape Motorsports squad, Kyle Dupell, has three previous starts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and was the fourth quickest driver during the recent open test.

TSO Ladder enjoys watching intra-team battles, and in just over a week, we should have a good idea which of the Cape Motorsports drivers has distinguished themselves as the team leader.

#3

During the late June test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Jack William Miller was the only driver that was not part of the Cape Motorsports squad to crack the top five on the combined timesheet.

The 17-year-old Miller Vinatieri Motorsports ended the test with the third quickest lap and was the fastest driver during the third test session.7

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship combined timesheet

RANIK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 81.8805 68
2 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 81.9810 -0.1005 67
3 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 82.1118 -0.2313 78
4 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 82.2840 -0.4035 49
5 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 82.3429 -0.4624 56
6 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 82.3527 -0.4722 51
7 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 82.4220 -0.5415 48
8 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 82.5953 -0.7148 74
9 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 82.6369 -0.7564 42
10 23 Matthew Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 82.7750 -0.8945 60
11 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 82.8110 -0.9305 72
12 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 82.8800 -0.9995 71
13 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 82.9691 -1.0886 77
14 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 83.0816 -1.2011 66
15 10 Nico Christodoulou DEForce Racing 83.1103 -1.2298 71
16 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 83.4712 -1.5907 56
17 90 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 84.8264 -2.9459 30
18 27 Courtney Crone Legacy Autosport 85.0168 -3.1363 71
19 24 Michael Myers Legacy Autosport Inoperative transponder

The second-generation driver has plenty of experience on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course, making three USF2000 starts last year, and six F4 United States Championship starts between 2017 and 2018.

The first three of six races could be the event that “JWM” takes that next step forward in his development.


Wednesday schedule

TIME EVENT
10:30am – 11am USF2000 Practice #1
11:15am – 11:45am Indy Pro 2000 Practice #1
1:30pm – 2pm USF2000 Qualifying #1
2:15pm – 2:45pm Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #1
4:30pm – 5:15pm USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #1 (20 laps or 45 minutes)
5:30pm – 6:20pm Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #1 (25 laps or 45 minutes)

Thursday Schedule

TIME EVENT
8am – 8:30am USF2000 Qualifying #2
8:45am – 9:15am Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2
11:30am – 12:15pm USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 (20 laps or 45 minutes)
12:30pm – 1:20pm Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 (25 laps or 45 minutes)
3:15pm – 4pm USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #3 (20 laps or 45 minutes)
4:15pm – 5:05pm Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #3 (25 laps or 45 minutes)

You can watch last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races here:

2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Race #1

2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Race #2

 


Don’t miss any of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires action:

 

Petrov wins first career Indy Pro 2000 race. Juncos Racing finish 1-2.

By Steve Wittich

As I wrote in my season preview, Artem Petrov has the raw talent to contend for Indy Pro 2000 wins. It was strictly a question of whether Ricardo Juncos and his team could harness that potential.

The 20-year-old, who started the race on the inside of the second row, took the lead in The Carousel and led the final 11-laps to take home his first Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires victory in only his seventh start.

On the podium after the race, the Russian told Rob Howden.

“I didn’t really know if the car was going to be good, so I just sent it.

“The track was more or less the same as Race #1. We made some small changes, and it felt really good. I’m really happy.

“Thanks to the team, my family, and my friends that support me. Thank you!”

Artem Petrov in the Road To Success / Bell / 226ers sponsored No. 42 leads his Juncos Racing teammate Sting Ray Robb at Road America (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Finishing on the podium for the eighth time in his Indy Pro 2000 career, and fourth time in his last eight starts, was Sting Ray Robb.

The Idahoan started the race from the fifth spot, but patience mixed with great timing, allowed him to move up to the second spot.

Race #1 winner Danial Frost didn’t quite have the pace from the first race. The 18-year-old started the race on the outside of the front row, and took the lead for one lap after an early race caution, but couldn’t hold on to the top spot. His visit to the podium is the eighth in his Road To Indy career.

Devlin DeFrancesco led 14 of 15 laps in the opening race, was the biggest mover. The 20-year-old Andretti Steinbrenner Racing rookie finished fourth after starting ninth.

After getting the call to fire the 275 horsepower engines in the sixteen PM-18s, the drivers, with Manuel Sulaiman and Danial Frost leading the way, got the green flag.

The track remained green for only a few hundred yards before the yellow flag came out for a front-straight incident between Hunter McElrea and Parker Thompson, who had started fourth and sixth.

The running order as they crossed the line under the yellow flag for the first time was Sulaiman, Frost, Petrov, Robb, Kaminsky, Eves, DeFrancesco, Comeau, Loomis, de la Vera, Aranda, Cook, Finelli, Kaminsky, McElrea and Thompson.

The green flag came back out to start Lap 4. Sulaiman didn’t get a great start and lost the top spot to Frost by the time they entered Turn 1.

The running order at the end of the first green flag lap was Frost, Petrov, Sulaiman, Robb, Kaminsky, DeFrancesco, Eves, Comeau, de la Vara, Loomis, Aranda, Cook, Finelli, Kaminsky, McElrea and Thompson.

In The Carosaul on Lap 5, Petrov was able to get around Frost to lead his first Road To Indy laps.

As Petrov crossed the line to start the seventh lap, the lead to Frost was a slim 0.5 seconds. Frost had just turned the quickest lap of the race.

The front four of Petrov, Frost, Sulaiman, and Robb had a small gap upfront. Behind them, DeFrancesco, who led every lap of Race #1, had moved from his ninth-place starting spot up to fifth.

At just past the halfway point of the 15-lap race, Petrov’s lead over Frost was right at one second. Frost was being pressured by Sulaiman and Robb, with DeFrancesco behind them turning his quickest lap of the race to close in on the front four.

On Lap 10, reigning USF2000 champion Eves, turned the quickest lap of the race, moving to within striking distance of DeFrancesco.

The second yellow of the race came out when the Surgere/Hagarty sponsored No. 83 of Charles Finelli, got high-sided while battling with Kaminsky and Aranda.

The green flag came back out to start Lap 11, with Petrov getting a good start and getting through Turn 1 first. Behind him, Frost, Sulaiman, Robb, DeFrancesco, and Eves were going at it for the podium spots, going three and four wide into Turn 1.

The big loser in that battle was the DEForce Racing rookie Sulaiman, who spun on his own.

The Mexican driver was able to keep the engine fired but fell down the field to 12th.

On Lap 13, Robb, who started the race in fifth, was able to get past Frost for second place.

When the white flag came out, Petrov’s lead over his teammate was 1.4 seconds. Frost was putting pressure on Robb, but he also had to fight to keep DeFrancesco behind him.

Petrov crossed the line 1.7 seconds ahead of Robb. The closest battle was between Frost and DeFrancesco, with the first race winner crossing the line only three-tenths of a second ahead of the Canadian.

The top five after the first two races, as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for six straight races is as follows:

  1. Danial Frost —> 52
  2. Devlin DeFrancesco —> 46
  3. Sting Ray Robb —> 42
  4. Artem Petrov —> 39
  5. Braden Eves —> 37
  6. Colin Kaminsky —> 37

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Road America Presented By Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders Race #2 Results (unofficial)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing 15-laps
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1.7088
3 68 Danial Frost Turn 3 Motorsport 2.7659
4 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 3.1313
5 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 5.0152
6 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 6.7518
7 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 8.7587
8 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 16.5595
9 69 Nate Aranda Juncos Racing 17.0159
10 37 Sabre Cook BN Racing with Team Benik 18.1506
11 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 22.2779
12 57 Bob Kaminsky Pabst Racing 23.4778
13 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing 66.1472
14 36 Jacob Loomis BN Racing with Team Benik – 5 LAPS
15 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing – 15 LAPS
16 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing – 15 LAPS
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