Archives for 2020 Road To Indy Coverage

Denes dominates in first Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries event – Eves and Barrichello round out podium

A statement win by RP Motorsport Indy Pro 2000 pilot Phillippe Denes put the rest of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires drivers on notice. After a dominant 14+ second win by the Californian, he quickly becomes the driver to beat if anybody else wants to win the five-race Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries championship.

“I loved it,” said the just-turned 21-year-old Denes after the win. “I love to represent RP Motorsport over here in the sim racing world. I’d also like to thank everybody for putting this on – it was a great event, and I’m looking forward to the rest of them. I’m excited. I want to thank Fire Flighters for helping me out.”

The green flag for the first-ever Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries event got the green flag for 45-minutes of action at a virtual Barber Motorsports Park flew just after 1 pm.

Peter Dempsey, Turn 3 Motorsports team owner and former Road To Indy driver, was the first SimMetric Driver Performance Labs Pole Position Award winner was joined on the front row by Denes. Behind them, the second row was made up of Barrichello and DEForce Racing team owner and former Indy car driver David Martinez.

The first few rows got cleanly through the first turn and the Alabama Roller Coaster, but behind them was chaos with many drivers involved in a significant incident.

For the first quarter of the race, Dempsey led Denes and Barichello, who were fighting for second place. When Dempsey came upon the lapped car of Jack William Miller, he attempted to pass him on the right but was shuffled into the grass in the high-speed kink on the back straight. Dempsey dropped back to tenth place but was able to recover to finish in seventh place.

(Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Lap 10, Denes and Barichello, who were running together upfront, had built a five-second lead over Andre Castro, Eves, Kaminsky, and Gold.

Longtime friends Castro and Eves would trade the final spot of the podium a few times before Castro grabbed control for the middle portion of the race. Kaminsky and Gold waged a clean but close battle, going side-by-side for several laps, before Gold was able to pull ahead near the end of the three-quarter hour race.

At the halfway point of the race, the top 10 were: Denes, Barrichello, Castro, Eves, Kaminsky, Gold, Cameron Shields, Flinn Lazier, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, and Dempsey.

The race settled in with Denes turning blistering laps, including the TSO Ladder Fastest Lap of The Race, to pull a decent gap on the Barrichello.

Drivers were thrown a bit of a curve-ball in the last third of the race when they realized they were going to have to come to pit road for fuel.

Denes and Barrichello were the first to stop with the RP Motorsport driver exiting the pits 15-seconds ahead of the Pabst Racing sophomore, who admitted he had not practiced a pit stop and was slow.

Castro and Eves visited their crews for fuel on the next lap, rejoining the race in the same order and ahead of Barrichello.

Eves immediately began to put pressure on Castro, with the two drivers running through numerous corners side-by-side. With only one lap remaining, Eves got beside Castro in Turn 15, and the two made slight contact, sending Castro’s Legacy Autosport No. 77 bouncing off the ARMCO barriers. He was able to continue and finished the race in the sixth spot.

“I’m sorry for the incident,” said Eves after the race. To be honest, I think it was a racing incident. He (Castro) just had like an inch of his car under me. I went to block, and I ended up chopping him a little bit. It was super good. I started sixth and worked my way up the entire time. I clicked off laps and ended up second. Super happy with the result!”

Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries Barber Motorsports Park race results (unofficial)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM GAP
1 5 Phillippe Denes RP Motorsport —-
2 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport -14.254
3 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing -17.288
4 03 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports -37.968
5 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -45.021
6 77 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport -53.004
7 3 Peter Dempsey Turn 3 Motorsport -55.491
8 003 Flinn Lazier Lazier Racing -1 Lap
9 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport -1 Lap
10 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing -1 Lap
11 48 Devin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Racing -1 Lap
12 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -1 Lap
13 95 Lucas Kohl Turn 3 Motorsports -2 Laps
14 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -2 Laps
15 027 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport -3 Laps
16 11 Ricardo Juncos Juncos Racing – 3 Laps
17 91 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport – 4 Laps
18 23 Nico Christodoulou DEForce Racing -6 Laps
19 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -8 Laps
20 14 Louis Meyer Legacy Autosport -11 Laps
21 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development – 17 Laps
22 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development – 17 Laps
23 69 Nate Aranda Juncos Racing – 17 Laps
24 01 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport – 23 Laps
25 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports -24 Laps
26 07 David Martinez DEForce Racing -27 Laps
27 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -28 Laps

Thoughts from Steve

  • I was entertained. I won’t lie; I wasn’t expecting to enjoy virtual racing. I’m old, cranky, and well old. I will never understand the attraction of watching someone else play a video game. Still, I did enjoy watching the Road To Indy drivers on a virtual Barber Motorsports Park this afternoon.
  • Big shoutout to the voice of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Rob Howden and ApexRacingTV’s Jonathan Simon for the informative and energetic commentary.
  • This is my first ever virtual race report. My biggest take away – I miss having timing and scoring.
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Road to Indy Announces Revised 2020 Schedule

Road to Indy Announces Revised 2020 Schedule
All Three Levels of Ladder System will Continue with 18 Races

PALMETTO, Fla. (March 26, 2020) – Following the schedule announcement today from Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires’ sanctioning body INDYCAR, Andersen Promotions has also confirmed a revised 2020 calendar to run in conjunction with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

To recover the two races lost at Barber Motorsports Park and Circuit of The Americas, triple header rounds for all three levels – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – will take place at Road America and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, helping to reduce costs to teams while maintaining an 18-race event schedule.

“With all the challenges the world is facing these days, it has been a positive experience working with our partners at INDYCAR in preserving a full event calendar for the Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The loss of COTA and Barber is unfortunate, as we very much enjoy racing at those great venues, but the solutions we have worked out will maintain full 18-race schedules for all three Road to Indy Championships while still delivering the variety and excitement that our program has come to be known for. It’s a bit compressed, but under the circumstances, I am delighted with this schedule.”

The revised schedule is as follows, with the season-ending awards banquet for all three series to take place in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Updated 2020 Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Schedule:

DATE

EVENT

June 19-21

Road America

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights triple headers

July 2-3

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights double headers *

July 10-12

Streets Of Toronto

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights double headers

August 7-9

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights triple headers

August 21

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indy Lights

August 22

Lucas Oil Raceway

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000

August 29

World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway

Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights

September 11-13

Portland International Raceway

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights double headers

September 18 – 20

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights double headers

TBD

Streets Of St. Petersburg

USF2000/Indy Pro 2000/Indy Lights double headers

*triple header for USF2000

Additionally, the series will hold a second Spring Training outing on June 10-11 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for all three levels. Updated testing regulations will be announced to teams shortly.

The traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Open test will now move to sometime in December or January at an appropriate venue for weather conditions.

HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas leads Indy Lights practice – top seven with a half-second.

By Steve Wittich

Rookies set three of the top five lap times in the first Indy Lights practice session, but it was veteran David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) that turned the quickest lap at 66.266 seconds.

2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood was the quickest of the rookies, but not by much. Kirkwood’s USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 rival Rasmus Lindh and his Andretti Autosport teammate Danial Frost were both within two-tenths of a second adrift of Kirkwood. Rounding out the top five, and still within a half-second of Malukas was Andretti Autosport veteran Robert Megennis.

An obviously happy Malukas told Rob Howden from the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network, said he was “in love” with the grip and lack of bumps that the new paving has brought to the circuit. The 18-year-old from Chicago, Ill. was also effusive about the chemistry within the HMD Motorsports squad.

Right on time, at 10:15 am, the last rung on the Road To Indy, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series took to the track for their only session of the day and their lone practice session before qualifying.

The ten turbo-charged 2.0L AER powered Dallaras hit the track and immediately got to work.

With eight minutes elapsed in the 45-minute practice session, the red flag came out for the first time for newcomer Tristan Charpentier came to a stop between Turn 13 and Turn 14. There was damage to the right rear and right front and tire marks on the concrete barrier in Turn 12. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team cleared the Andretti Autosport No. 48 from the track, and the track went back to green with just over 30 minutes remaining.

Charpentier was not able to get back on track and was only able to turn four laps at a track he has never visited before. Not an ideal start to his Indy Lights debut weekend.

The drivers had turned between three and six laps, and the quickest lap to that point was a lap timed at 67.276 seconds by Malukas in the HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79. The remainder of the top five were Santi Urrutia, Megennis, Frost, and Kirkwood.

It didn’t take long before Urrutia, who won the last time he was on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in 2018, quickly took over the top spot on the timing screens.

With 24-minutes remaining, Malukas went back to the top of the timing screens with the first sub-67-second lap on his 11th lap of the session. At that point in the practice, eight of the ten drivers were all within one second of the top spot.

With 21-minutes left in the session, Kirkwood turned a lap that was a scant two-hundredths of a second better than Malukas.

At the two-thirds point of the practice, the top seven drivers were within a half-second of the top spot that was held by Kirkwood. Kirkwood’s gap to Malukas was a scant two-hundredths of a second.

With just over 10-minutes remaining, Urrutia and the Uruguay Natural/BSE/ANCAP sponsored No. 55 ended up in the Turn 4 run-off area. The veteran was able to keep the engine lit, and the session remained green. On his next lap, the Uruguayan missed Turn 10, and once again, he was able to back up and keep going.

With five minutes left, Malukas held the top spot, with Kirkwood, Lindh, Sowery, and Megennis all within a half-second of the HMD Motorsports driver.

The ten drivers completed a total of 252 laps. Malukas, Kirkwood, Frost, and Antonio Serravalle were the busiest drivers, each completing 30 laps of the 14-lap circuit.

Sowery told Rob Howden from the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network that the track is still slippery, but with some of the new pavement, it is going to be quick once it sufficient rubber has been put down. He also explained that his best lap was hampered by one of Urrutia’s offs.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting/Cooper Tires Practice results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:06.266 –.—- 30
2 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:06.393 0.1263 30
3 10 Rasmus Lindh Belardi Auto Racing 1:06.399 0.1325 28
4 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:06.637 0.3709 30
5 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:06.743 0.4765 27
6 5 Toby Sowery Belardi Auto Racing 1:06.787 0.5205 21
7 55 Santi Urrutia HMD Motorsports 1:06.837 0.5708 26
8 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports 1:06.935 0.6691 30
9 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport 1:07.332 1.0659 26
10 48 Tristan Charpentier Andretti Autosport 1:09.825 3.5585 4

Braden Eves dominates Indy Pro 2000 practice with four different teams in the top four spots

Reigning USF2000 champion Braden Eves was the only driver to turn a lap of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in the 68-second range, a full half-second quicker than any other drivers. Behind Eves, it was that same half-second that covered the next eight drivers.

Drivers representing four different teams made up the top-four spots, with Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), and Lucas Petersson (RP Motorsport) and Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing) rounding out the top five.

The 14 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires drivers were the second series to take to the track.

The session was only 150 seconds old when the red flag came out for an incident involving Artem Petrov in Turn 4. Drivers had only been able to complete a single lap.

Petrov was able to get back on track completing 14-laps, which was the 6th fastest lap of the session.

The green flag came back out five-minutes later with 23-minutes remaining, and the track was immediately busy with the drivers heading back out on-track.

Braden Eves was the quickest driver at the half-way point of the lone practice session for the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires with a lap timed at 69.225 seconds. He was followed closely by Thompson, Enders, Denes, and de la Vara in the top five.

With just under 10-minutes remaining, the red flag came out for the second time. This time it was de la Vara and the No. 6 DEForce Racing PM-18 that had an issue.

At that time, it was Eves, with a lap of 69.116 seconds that was on top of the timing screens. He was followed by Thompson, Denes, Enders, and Sulaiman rounding out the top five. The first 12 drivers were all within two-seconds of Eves.

The green flag came back out with only four-and-half minutes remaining, and a dozen cars were quickly back on track. Veteran Robb was the first driver to improve on his lap time, but it didn’t take long for the timing screen to light up green as drivers improved on their lap times.

The first driver to turn a sub-69 second lap was Eves, who accomplished that on his 14th lap of the session, the Meyer-Shank Racing affiliated driver was able to go faster on his next and last lap of the session.

The Indy Pro 2000 drivers will be back on track at 1:25 pm for their lone qualifying session of the event.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Cooper Tires/Allied Building Products.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:08.599 –.—- 15
2 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:09.182 0.5835 18
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:09.236 0.6378 15
4 4 Lucas Petersson RP Motorsport USA 1:09.283 0.6846 16
5 9 Parker Thompson DEForce Racing 1:09.307 0.7085 17
6 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing 1:09.580 0.9817 14
7 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:09.638 1.0397 17
8 19 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:09.671 1.0724 15
9 5 Phillippe Denes RP Motorsport USA 1:09.712 1.1129 16
10 37 Sabre Cook BN Racing with Team Benik 1:09.944 1.3453 17
11 3 Lucas Kohl Turn 3 Motorsport 1:10.019 1.4199 15
12 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:10.679 2.0802 11
13 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:11.121 2.5221 15
14 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing No Time

Eduardo Barrichello and Pabst Racing lead first USF2000 session dominated by veterans

By Steve Wittich

Pabst Racing sophomore Eduardo Barrichello led the first official race weekend Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires session of the 2020 season that was dominated by veteran drivers.

The second-generation driver was joined in the top five by 2019 USF2000 race-winner Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport).

Brooks and DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto were the only drivers with no St. Petersburg track experience to end the practice in the top ten.

The first track activity of a condensed and surreal race weekend was a 30-minute Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The 21 2.0L Elite Engine powered cars served as an 8 am alarm for the downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. condo dwellers.

Drivers quickly started turning laps, until the red flag came out 10-minutes gone for an incident involving Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Wyatt Brichacek in Turn 5. The Colorado-based driver had just turned his quickest lap of the session.

He was able to get back out on track and turned a total of 14 laps during the session.

At that point in the session, most drivers had been able to complete 4 to 6 laps of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. Rasmussen held the quickest lap at 75.143 seconds. The rest of the top five were Round-Garrido, Barrichello, Porto, and Siegel.

The green flag came back out with 15-minutes remaining.

Drivers were only able to complete a couple of laps before the track went back to red. Sophomore Yuven Sundaramoorthy just tapped the wall in Turn 12. He was able to keep going, bringing the No. 21 Pabst Racing USF-17 to pit road.

The car suffered no damage, and Sundaramoorthy was able to get back out on the track, turning the seventh quickest lap on his final lap of the session.

The green flag quickly came back out with just over 10 minutes remaining, and the track was immediately busy with veteran drivers getting a handle on the set-up of the cars and newcomers still trying to learn the track.

The first driver to improve on their quickest lap was Barrichello, but it didn’t take long for the entire timesheet to show a lot of green with drivers turning their fastest laps. The quick laps included Rasmussen setting the first sub-75 second lap.

Rassmussen still had the quickest lap with five minutes remaining, and seven drivers were able to break the 75-second barrier.

With just over three minutes remaining in the session, Barrichello was the first driver to break in the 73-second lap bracket.

The red flag came out for the final time with just under two minutes remaining, bringing the session to a close.

USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented By Andersen RacePark/Cooper Tires Practice Results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:13.515 –.—- 17
2 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.714 0.1987 16
3 4 Michael d Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:13.772 0.2564 16
4 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:13.970 0.4546 16
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:14.168 0.6532 11
6 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:14.197 0.6820 16
7 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:14.342 0.8266 14
8 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:14.622 1.1066 17
9 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.836 1.3204 14
10 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.881 1.3656 15
11 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:14.882 1.3665 14
12 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:15.055 1.5394 15
13 20 Cameron Shields Legacy Autosport 1:15.061 1.5459 12
14 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:15.126 1.6105 15
15 38 Jordan Missig Newman Wachs Racing 1:15.148 1.6326 15
16 91 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:15.290 1.7745 14
17 10 Mathias Ramirez DEForce Racing 1:15.392 1.8768 15
18 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:15.622 2.1066 14
19 27 Ayrton Ori Legacy Autosport 1:17.116 3.6004 14
20 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.193 3.6780 14
21 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:17.689 4.1735 14

Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Friday Schedule and other notes

By Steve Wittich

Good morning from St. Petersburg, where the first official on-track activity for the 2020 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season will get underway.

Here is Friday’s schedule:

TIME EVENT
7:42am Sunrise
8am – 8:30am USF2000 Practice #1
8:45am – 9:15am Indy Pro 2000 Practice #1
9am – 10am Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA – Practice #1
10:15 am – 11am Indy Lights Practice #1
11:15am – 11:45am Pirelli GT4 America Practice #1
Noon – 12:30pm TC America Practice #1
12:45pm – 1:10pm USF2000 Qualifying #1
1:25pm – 1:50pm Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #1
2:05pm – 2:50pm Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA – Practice #2
3:05pm – 3:35pm Pirelli GT4 America Practice #2
3:50pm – 4:20pm TC America Practice #2
4:35pm – 4:50pm Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA – Qualifying
5:05pm- 5:45pm USF2000 Race #1
6pm – 6:40pm Indy Pro 2000 Race #1
7:36pm Sunset

Access to the track, understandably, is tightly controlled. There is only one access point, and it is only open between 6 am, and 8 am.

Also tightly controlled is the number of crew/personal being allowed in. For the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 series, only ten people per car are allowed. The Indy Lights teams are each entitled to have a dozen people enter the track.

The Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will share the track today with the Pirelli GT4 America, TC America, and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Series.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and teams will not be at the track today.

There was one late addition to the USF2000 field. Jordan Missig, from Channahon, Ill. will be piloting the No. 38 for Newman Wachs Racing. Missig won nine-times on the way to a second-place finish in the 2019 Radical Cup North America Series

The view looking over Tampa Bay to start Friday at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo Courtesy of Steve Wittich)

I’ll be back with more after the first session.

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