Archives for 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Coverage

Malukas experiences thrill of victory on Sunday after the agony of defeat on Sunday

David Malukas, in the HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79 IL-15 draws out to a significant lead in Sunday’s Indy Lights race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” (sorry, ABC Wide World Of Sports) perfectly describes the weekend of Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Alabama presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 winner David Malukas.

After his season began in the Turn 1 barriers on Lap 1 on Saturday, he recovered with a perfect Sunday. The 19-year-old HMD Motorsports driver scored ‘max’ points, starting on the pole, leading every lap, and turning the fastest lap on the way to his first Indy Lights victory.

“This feels amazing. I took it easy in the beginning so as not to make any mistakes and get it all ruined, said Sunday’s race winner. “As the fuel load went down, I could feel the car really coming in and I knew I just had to take it easy. I had a big gap, all I had to do was bring it home. But I felt like Captain America out there, like I could do it all day and just keep pushing more and more! I fell in love with the track, the tires were still there, the car was amazing, I couldn’t do anything but go faster. I only took it easy that last lap.

“This has been a long time coming. By the end of 2019, it felt like a curse, that I just couldn’t get an Indy Lights win. We have the pace this year and could have won yesterday, but I knew I had the pace today. I put yesterday behind me and went for it, and brought it home.”

The win was the Chicago, Ill native’s fourth career Road To Indy trip to victory lane and his sixth win across all North American Junior Open Wheel series.

Malukas was joined on the podium by Saturday’s race winner and teammate Linus Lundqvist (Global Racing Group w/ HMD Motorsports). The Swede now has 18 podiums in 19 starts across Indy Lights and the Formula Regional Americas Championship.

Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) had an adventurous run to the podium, falling down the running order on the first lap after being force wide in Turn 1, before clawing his way back to stand on his second podium in as many days.

“It was definitely a hectic race. Robert (Megennis) was very aggressive at the start and pushed me quite wide, but I can’t begrudge him – I would have done the same thing” said the Canadian after his second straight podium celebration. “I tried to gather it up and focus on moving forward, putting pressure on Toby (Sowery) and Robert. I kept pressing, trying to get him to make a mistake because I could see Robert having problems with locking up. But I also had to keep Alex Peroni behind; I almost lost the position to him. I was able to get by Robert when he had the issue. The Andretti Steinbrenner guys have done an amazing job this weekend, from where we started to a double podium. The HMD guys have been quick all weekend but I have a feeling the tables will turn very soon.”

Finishing fourth for the second race in a row was Juncos Racing veteran Toby Sowery, who is still knocking the rust off his skillset after taking a hiatus from track activity for a season.

Kyle Kirkwood recovered from a mistake in Turn 1, Lap 1 of Race 1, to come home fifth after starting seventh.

There were 40 on-track passes in the 35 lap race. Carlin rookie Alex Peroni made six on-track overtakes, the most of the 13 starters. Carlin rookie Christian Bogle gained three spots, the most of any driver.

The top five in championship standings (unofficial) headed to St. Petersburg, Fla. next weekend are:
1 – Linus Lundqvist (Global Racing Group w/HMD) – 57 points
2 – Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) – 44 points
3 – David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) – 40 points
4 – Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD) – 39 points
5 – Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing) – 38 points

A quick note before the engines are fired. We checked in with Tony Cotman, the Road To Indy competition director and Indy Lights Race Director, regarding the absence of Push-To-Pass this weekend. He explained to TSO Ladder that they were experiencing a software issue. They were almost 100% certain that the system would work perfectly, but because they weren’t 100%, they didn’t think it would be fair if it worked with some cars and not with others. They will give it another shot in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The call to start the turbocharged 2.0L AER engines powering the baker’s dozen IL-15s for the second Indy Lights race at Barber Motorsports Park was given a little late at 12:35 pm after a caution filled Porsche Sprint Challenge Race.

After a pair of formation laps, the front row of Malukas and Lundqvist led the field to the green flag.

Malukas got the jump on Lundqvist, with Megennis starting behind the pole sitter, also getting a great start.

The start of the 2021 Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The big loser through the first half of Lap 1 was Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport), who lost three spots after getting pushed out wide in Turn 1. His teammate, Kirkwood, also went backward,

At the end of the first lap, the running order was: Malukas, Lundqvist, Megennis, Peroni, Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing), DeFrancesco, Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports), Christian Bogle (Carlin) and Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing)

The big mover on Lap 1 was Carlin rookie Peroni, whose aggressive first lap saw him move from the eighth starting spot up to fourth.

After five laps, Malukas’ lead was 1.1 seconds over Lundqvist. The entire field was still strung together with the top nine within seven seconds.

On Lap 6, Lastochkin moved into the top 10, getting by Robb.

After ten laps of action, Malukas’ lead had grown to 2.5 seconds. Lundqvist, in second, had a 4.1-second gap to Megennis in third.

Behind Megennis, a trio led by Peroni was within 1.5 seconds of the Andretti Autosport sophomore.

On Lap 12, Lundqvist turned the quickest lap of the race to that point, two-tenths-of-a-second quicker than Malukas.

Peroni, who was running fourth, had a sudden loss of power coming out of Turn 9, losing spots to Sowery and DeFrancesco.

Sowery quickly caught up to Megennis, with Sowery diving to the inside of Charlotte’s Web. The two veterans went side-by-side until Turn 8 when Sowery wisely backed out.

At the halfway point of the race, Malukas lead over Lundqvist was 3.1 seconds. Megennis was 13.3 seconds adrift of Lundqvist.

Malukas, with 12 laps remaining and the fuel load getting less, was the first driver to turn a sub-73-second lap.

On the next lap, Sowery dove to the inside in Turn 5 again. Megennis took a defensive line into the 180-degree left-hand turn.

With ten laps remaining, Malukas lead over his teammate was 3.6 seconds. Megennis was still in third place but had the following eight drivers with five seconds of him.

The best battle late in the race was between Andretti Autosport teammates Kirkwood and Frost. Kirkwood was getting the power down better out of Turn 6 and made a daring pass outside of Turn 8.

While the front two were on a Sunday stroll, behind them, the battle was intense.

Pederson, who had been running seventh, lost two spots to Kirkwood and Frost.

Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport) leads a train of Indy Lights competitors in the fight for the final podium spot in Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

On Lap 30, Megennis had the left front tire give out in the Alabama Roller Coaster. DeFrancesco made up for a poor first lap by making an aggressive move to get by the wounded Megennis and Sowery to grab the final spot on the podium.

On the Peacock broadcast, Katie Kiel asked Megennis’ crew chief Jessica Mace what happened, and she supposed that the lockups into Turn 5, was the cause of the problem.

“My left-front tire went down. I was racing for third and I held on as long as I could,” said Fordham University student Robert Megennis.” We kind of struggled for pace so we’ll look back at the data and see why. I didn’t think the tire was going to blow up, I really didn’t lock it up that much or didn’t do anything too crazy. It sucks that we had a good result going today and we need to get points when we can.”

Kirkwood took advantage of Peroni getting bogged down behind them while trying to avoid the wounded No. 27.

With two laps remaining, Malukas had a comfortable 6.1 second lead over his teammate. The teammates also had the the two quickest laps of the race.

On the final lap, Frost, who was running seventh, was forced to pit road, which also appeared to be an issue with a tire.

Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Alabama presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 Unofficial Results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports ——
2 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports -6.3895
3 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport -32.1326
4 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing -33.1431
5 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport -33.5494
6 5 Alex Peroni Carlin -36.5642
7 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports -39.4897
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing -39.8679
9 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports -40.9812
10 7 Christian Bogle Carlin -52.1906
11 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing -52.8125
12 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport -1 LAPS
13 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -3 LAPS

The top-rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track in five days, on Friday, April 23, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Second Indy Pro 2000 win in the last 3 races for Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea

The Giltrap Group/Doric NZ/Miles Advisory Partners sponsored No. 18 of race winner Hunter McElrea Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Hunter McElrea, with an unorthodox win at Barber Motorsports Park, has now won two of the last three Indy Pro 2000 races.

The Pabst Racing sophomore wasn’t the first driver to cross the line but was declared the winner when a five-second post-race penalty was applied to Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), who moved in reaction to McElrea while defending after a spin in Turn 5 threw away a significant lead.

“I was all over Christian for the first five laps to try and apply the pressure, but he had the most pace today,” explained the sophomore Pabst Racing pilot.  “Having gotten sixth yesterday, I was going for points today and was ready to accept second when I came out of Turn Five and he was stopped in the middle of the road. He put three blocks on me, so I feel as though he had the win just about in the bag but he gave it to me. He was super fast; I’m sure he’s disappointed. I love racing him, I know we’ll have some good battles this year, but I got lucky with that win and in this game, you have to take them. I probably had the second-place car today but I got lucky. This win puts me right where I need to be.”

Exclusive Autosport veteran Artem Petrov was able to hold off his teammate and winner of Saturday’s race Braden Eves, to stand on his second straight podium to start the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 season.

The race featured 39 passes, with Enzo Fittipaldi (RP Motorsport), James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsports), and Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), each completing five overtakes.

Petrov, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport), Hunter Yeany (Velocity Racing Development), and Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) all gained three spots during the race, the most in the field.

Eves, with a fourth-place finish, heads to the second event of the season in St. Petersburg, Fla., next weekend with the points lead.

Unofficial Top 5 Indy Pro 2000 points after two races
1 – Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) – 51 points
2 – Artem Petrov (Exclusive Autosport) – 47 points
3 – Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) – 45 points
4 – Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) – 37 points
T5 – Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) – 30 points
T5 – Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) – 30 points

After having contract in Saturday’s race, the front row of Rasmussen and McElrea began Sunday’s race cleanly. Pole-sitter Rasmussen got a good jump on McElrea.

Gold, who started third, had an issue in Turn 1, with the podium driver from Saturday falling down the running order to 14th.

Petrov, who started sixth, moved up three spots on the first lap, passing his teammate Eves in Charlotte’s Web.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Rasmussen, McElrea, Petrov, Eves, Abel, Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing), James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport), Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), Hunter Yeany (Velocity Racing Development), Pietro Fittipaldi (RP Motorsport), Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing) and Flinn Lazier (Legacy Autosport).

Early on, McElrea would not let the Rasmussen getaway out front, with Exclusive Autosport teammates running in their tire tracks.

Just before the one-third point of the race, Simpson had an issue on the track, letting Ahmed, Yeany, and Fittipaldi get by before falling to the tail of the field.

Rasmussen’s lead was up to 2.3 seconds over McElrea, slowly gapping the Pabst Racing sophomore.

Petrov was 2.5 seconds behind McElrea in the final podium spot, but that spot wasn’t safe, as his teammate Eves was right on the Russian’s gearbox.

As the fuel burned off, lap times continued to fall, and drivers settled in for during the middle portion of the race.

At the halfway point of the race, Rasmussen’s lead over McElrea was 3.3 seconds. The remainder of the top ten was Petrov, Eves, Abel, Brichacek, Kaminsky, Sulaiman, Roe, and Ahmed.

The closest battle on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course was at the halfway point of the 30-lap race was for fifth. Abel held the spot but was facing pressure from Brichacek and Kaminsky.

After putting pressure on Roe for at least ten laps, Ahmed moved past the Irishman for ninth on Lap 19.

On Lap 20, Rasmussen turned his quickest lap of the race along with McElrea. Rasmussen’s lap was a half-second quicker than the Pabst Racing driver, and the gap had increased to just over six seconds.

Despite a considerable lead upfront, there were still some great battles further back in the field. Exclusive Autosport teammates Petrov and Eves were only separated by 0.4 seconds with eight laps remaining.

The JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil Sponsored No. 1 of Christian Rasmussen leads the Indy Pro 2000 race at Barber Motorsports Park in 2021 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

On lap 23, the race at the front of the field got more interesting when Rasmussen spun in Turn 5. He kept the lead but had McElrea right on his tail.

Rasmussen clearly had the quicker car as he began to pull a gap to McElrea.

With five laps remaining, race control announced that Rasmussen would receive a five-second penalty for moving in reaction to McElrea.

“I was leading by quite a margin but made a mistake coming out of Turn Five, went wide, got on the curb and spun,” explained a disappointed Rasmussen, the reigning USF2000 champion. “It was completely my fault. I saw Hunter coming and went to the inside – which is where you’re supposed to go when you’re defending the position – and he went to the outside. I held my line, so I didn’t feel as though I impeded his line at all, kept the lead and pulled away again. I have to look at the video but I felt as though I kept to the rules in that situation. I’m not sure what I think of the penalty at the moment, but again, we have to look at the video and see what happened. Right now, I don’t think it was fair. I feel as though I deserve that victory, but that’s racing sometimes.”

With two laps remaining, Rasmussen’s gap to McElrea was 3.8 seconds. With one lap remaining, Rasmussen’s lead was 3.5 seconds ahead of McElrea.

Rasmussen crossed the finish line ahead of McElrea, but the gap was not over five seconds, giving the win to McElrea.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Presented By Cooper Tires Race #2

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 30 LAPS
2 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development -1.4102
3 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport -5.9833
4 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport -6.8317
5 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -14.3326
6 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -14.9258
7 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -15.3529
8 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing -16.4453
9 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA -16.9272
10 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA -18.3812
11 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport -20.6469
12 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development -26.7027
13 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing -27.1185
14 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -27.6646
15 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing -28.2607
16 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport -40.2698
17 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing -69.8321

Prescott Campbell nabs first USF2000 race win, heads to St. Pete with points lead

 

Prescott Campbell on track at Barber Motorsports Park in the Fluid Logic/Valkyrie Intelligence sponsored No. 11 USF-17 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Prescott Campbell, a DEForce Racing sophomore, utilized an on-track pass for the lead to become the fourth straight newbie to win a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race. That string dates back to St. Petersburg, Fla. in 2020 and includes Kiko Porto, Christian Brooks, Yuven Sundaramoorthy.

After a Lap 5 pass, the 20-year-old held off his teammate and pole-sitter Nolan Siegel, who finished on the second step of the podium. It was Siegel’s third career USF2000 podium.

“It’s hard to put this into words, I’m just ecstatic to finally get this done,” said Campbell, the 2019 Lucas Oil Formula Car Series champion. “I qualified P2 for race one, P2 in race two, finished P2 in Race One, so I was really hungry to go one better and I finally got it done. I ran a clean race, no mistakes, and that was the difference. With the aero wash, it’s hard to pass here so it takes a mistake to change position when you’re that close, but I’m gutted for Nolan. Huge thanks to the team, they gave us the best car this weekend as evidenced by my teammates’ performance as well – and thanks to my parents, they’re the ones who have gotten me here, and my sponsors as well.”

Joining Campbell and Siegel on the podium for the second time in as many races, was Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), who moved up three spots after starting sixth.

“I gave it a good fight in Race One but it’s so hard to pass in the aero wash here, and it’s easy to make a mistake – there are a lot of places that if you touch a wheel, you’re off,” explained Pabst Racing sophomore and double podium driver Pierson. “Not putting a wheel wrong in the race under pressure was tough, but in the end, neither Yuven nor Prescott made any mistakes. I wish I could have gone for the victory, but there’s always next time. Michael (d’Orlando) pushed me pretty hard in the beginning and I enjoyed that. In Race Two, I feel as though I was the only car really making moves out there and I enjoyed that as well. I wasn’t able to do anything in the end but I had good pace and a good run – and a double podium on the day, so it’s a great way to start the season.”

Rounding out the top five were Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), making the evening race the second straight with an all-veteran top five. After a thrash by the No. 99 Force Indy crew, Myles Rowe came home in sixth, the highest finishing rookie.

The trip to the USF2000 victory lane is the second for DEForce Racing.

Campbell is the second Lucas Oil Formula Car Series champion to win a race, joining Reece Gold.

The race featured 95 on-track overtakes, with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Jackson Lee leading that category with a dozen on-track passes. The 18-year-old also gained the most places during the race, gaining nine spots.

The top current top five in USF2000 points after the race are:

  • Prescott Campbell – 56 points
  • Josh Pierson – 44 points
  • Yuven Sundaramoorthy – 43 points
  • Nolan Siegel – 37 points
  • Christian Brooks – 34 points

Of note from race #1, Jay Howard Driver Development driver Bijoy Garg was disqualified. The second-year driver originally finished 14th but was found to violate Rule 14.31.1., which states –

The minimum Car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, Drivers weight and meet the
following minimums:
(a) All Events – 1260 pounds.

The second Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama was initially scheduled to get the green flag at 3:50 pm but was delayed did not get started until after NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying.

The all DEForce Racing front-row of Siegel and Campbell brought the field onto the front straight. The 26 starters were strung out, and the start was waved off. With sunset set for 7:19 pm, the clock began immediately.

The running order at the end of the first lap under was Siegel, Campbell, Porto, Pierson, Rowe, Green, Christie, Brooks, Nepveu, Denmark, d’Orlando, Frazer, Kohlbecker, Sundaramoorthy, Castro, Sikes, Vodanovich, Lee, Garg, Stamer, Round-Garrido, Vaccaro, Navarro, Palmer, Evans, and Burke.

As the field got to Charlotte’s web on the second green flag lap, the No. 6 of Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development) spun in Turn 5 (it looked like he had help) and was hit by the No. 16 Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), who climbed over the front of Garg. That incident necessitated the yellow flag.

With all of the rubber from INDYCAR qualifying, the track was quite slick, which was noticeable in the race lap times, which were one-second slower than the morning races.

When the green flag came back out to begin lap five, the top ten were Siegel, Campbell, Pierson, Porto, Green, Rowe, Brooks, Christie, Nepveu, and Denmark.

On the first lap back to Green, Campbell took the lead for the first time in his USF2000 career. Campbell was quickly under pressure, and when the top four crossed the line to start lap seven, the top four were separated by under one second.

As the field was shown the crossed flags of the 20-lap race, Campbell had a 0.4 second lead over his teammate Siegel. Pierson, Porto, and Brooks – who had just passed Green.

Campbell’s lead over Siegel with five laps remaining was a half-second, but the top 11 were nose-to-tail and running within five seconds of the lead.

With tough track conditions following NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying, the front five in the second USF2000 remained in touch with each other Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

With two laps remaining, Siegel was continuing to pressure Campbell, holding a slim three-tenths-of-a-second lead.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #2 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing LAP 20
2 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing -0.5419
3 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing -0.8875
4 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing -1.1882
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -1.7256
6 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -2.3801
7 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport -4.2601
8 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports -5.2277
9 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -5.3509
10 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -5.4912
11 5 Spike Kohlbecker Cape Motorsports -5.7958
12 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -6.5932
13 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -7.1204
14 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -9.8148
15 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport -10.476
16 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development -13.6728
17 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -14.1107
18 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing -14.6863
19 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport -21.6675
20 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -71.1599
21 3 Evan Stamer Cape Motorsports -1 LAPS
22 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport – 8 LAPS
23 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development -8 LAPS
24 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development – 18 LAPS
25 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports – 18 LAPS
26 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports – 18 LAPS

An impressive race of firsts for Linus Lundqvist and Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports

Linus Lundqvist, a Global Racing Group w/HMD Indy Lights rookie celebrates his a dominant victory in the first race of the 2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

It was a race of firsts for Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports and rookie driver Linus Lundqvist. It was a first Indy Lights event, a first qualifying session, a first pole, a first rolling start, and the first visit to victory lane after a dominant drive in their first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race.

The 22-year-old is the reigning Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered By Honda champion and has now won 16 of 19 open-wheel starts in North America.

“This was the dream, to continue the streak from last year, but we knew how tough this championship has been,” explained the Swedish driver. “Looking at the drivers on this grid, it’s amazing that we were able to get the first pole position of the year and now the first race win as well. It’s my favorite position, to be in the lead and controlling the pace, but you’re still pushing because the field is trying to catch you. You always keep an eye on tire management and manage your laps to his – if there’s a restart, you have to have the tires to keep on pushing. It’s unfortunate for the team that David got taken out in Turn One, otherwise we could have had a good fight on our hands. That will have to wait until tomorrow.”

Rounding out an all-rookie podium was Lundqvist’s teammate Benjamin Pedersen and Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport rookie Devlin DeFrancesco. Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing) and Alex Peroni (Carlin) were the final two drivers in the top five.

The DirtFish/Bell Helmets/The Heart of Racing/Colibri Capital sponsored No. 24 of Benjamin Pedersen on the way to an Indy Lights podium at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

“I had a good start, with Kirkwood on the inside, and sent it in a bit late and that momentum sent him into my teammate,” explained second place finisher Benjamin Pedersen. “I feel badly for him. He’s helped me so much in the pre-season and I was looking forward to racing with him. I just kept moving forward, trying to not make any mistakes but keep the pressure on Linus. What a start for this Global Racing Group with HMD effort, our debut on the Road to Indy and in Indy Lights. I can’t say enough about the series, how welcoming they were and how pro everything is. I’m loving every minute of it.”

Lundqvist joins current NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Felix Rosenqvist as Swedish drivers to stand on the top step of an Indy Lights podium.

Global Racing Group w/HMD is the seventh different team to win an Indy Lights race at Barber Motorsports Park.

DeFrancesco is the 15th Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport pilot to stand on the podium at Barber Motorsports Park.

Sowery earned the single bonus point for setting the quickest race lap. The veteran’s 28th lap of the race timed at 72.7718 seconds over a second under the race track record set by Sean Rayhall in 2015.

The 2.0L AER turbocharged engines powering the baker’s dozen IL-15 machines were officially fired for the first time in a year and a half.

After a pair of pace laps, the front row of Lundqvist and Malukas brought the field to the green flag, with the pole-sitter arriving at Turn 1 first.

Unlike their little brothers, the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 t the exit of Turn 1, Kirkwood’s right front wing made contact with the left rear of Malukas. The No. 79 of Malukas shot to the right and made hard contact with the tire barriers on the driver’s right.

Kirkwood was able to continue but needed to come to pit road for a new front wing. Race control deemed that the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion was responsible for the contact, penalizing him for avoidable contact. Katie Kiel, Peacock’s pit reporter, asked Kirkwood’s engineer Doug Zister about the contact. The multi-championship \ winning engineer thought that his driver was aggressive because of the difficulty of passing at Barber Motorsports Park.

“The start of the race was very unfortunate, just locked up,” explained Malukas.  “I’ve got to look at the video to really know exactly what happened. It all happened really fast. We damaged the wing so we had to replace that and the right tire was cut. We started from the back after the caution and got a couple of positions in the first couple laps, but it became impossible to pass really quick. I think after that we fell into a groove without push-to-pass with it not being available this weekend. I think it would have been a different story if that was enabled, but we did what we could. We finally got the car into a good window, now we just need to get positions.”

Note: TSO Ladder caught up with Kirkwood after the race, and he entirely took the blame for the incident with Malukas and felt terrible for the HMD Motorsports driver. He also noted that he made mistakes in his season-opening USF2000 (2018) and Indy Pro 2000 (2019) races before winning those championships. 

Malukas was checked and released by the INDYCAR medical staff and cleared to participate in track activity. In his interview with Peacock, he stated that he was fine, that the car had moderate damage, and that he wasn’t impressed with the rookie driving.

When the green flag came back out to restart the 30-lap race on Lap 5, the running order was Lundqvist, Pederson, Sowery, DeFrancesco, Peroni, Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), Christian Bogle (Carlin), Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports), Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), Kirkwood and Malukas.

On lap 8, DeFrancesco moved to the final podium position after Sowery got wide at the exit of Turn 6.

After ten of 30 laps, Lundqvist held a 2.7-second advantage over his teammate Pedersen, with DeFrancesco running in third. Sowery was running fourth, with Peroni, Megennis, Frost, and Robb all running within ten seconds of the leader.

With push-to-pass inactive for this race, Kirkwood struggled to get by Bogle, finally making the pass into the final corner on Lap 15.

Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) and Christian Bogle (Carlin) battle for position exiting Turn 6 at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The gap between the distinctive orange liveried Global Racing Group w/HMD running one-two remained consistent over the next ten laps. The HPD/Global Racing Group/FX Airguns/Paytrim/JULA sponsored No. 26 of Lundqvist had a 3 second lead with ten laps remaining.

The closest battle on the track was between Andretti Autosport teammates Robert Megennis and Danial Frost for sixth. Their teammate Kirkwood was pressuring Indy Pro 2000 champion Robb for the eighth spot behind them.

After remaining consistent for the first two-thirds of the race, Lundqvist began to pull away from his teammate Pedersen. With five minutes remaining, his lead was 4.4 seconds and growing.

For the first time in the race, Pedersen was facing pressure from behind, with DeFrancesco less than a second adrift of the second-place runner.

The best battle on the track was between Megennis, Frost, Robb, and Kirkwood for the sixth spot with three laps remaining. The foursome crossed the finish line within 1.5 seconds of each other, but the positions remained the same.

Lundqvist received the twin-checkered flags 5.3 seconds ahead of his teammate, who finished 0.6 seconds ahead of DeFrancesco.

Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Alabama presented by Cooper Tires #1 (unofficial results)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 30 laps
2 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports -5.3517
3 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport -5.981
4 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing -7.7214
5 5 Alex Peroni Carlin -12.5337
6 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -21.6282
7 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport -22.9966
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing -23.3486
9 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport -23.456
10 7 Christian Bogle Carlin -30.1144
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports -30.6155
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing -39.4766
13 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports -30 laps

Eves writes a winning chapter in his storybook comeback – Exclusive Autosport pilots take top two spots

 

Braden Eves is congratulated by Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe after wheeling the Cambridge/Exclusive Autosport sponsored No. 91 PM-18 to a win in the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 season-opener Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The second chapter in Braden Eves’ storybook return to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper featured a dominant green to checkered flag victory and returned to the top step of the series podium.

The 21-year-old, who started on the inside of the front row, got a jump on the field and was able to drive away from his Exclusive Autosport teammate Artem Petrov, who finished on an Indy Pro 2000 podium for the seventh time.

“That was just amazing. It’s so hard to pass here so I knew that if I got through the first lap, I should be okay,” said the 2019 USF2000 champion. “Winning the season opener is big when you’re making a championship bid and that’s what we’re after this season. Before my USF2000 title, I won the first race as well and while I’d love to go four-for-four this year, like I did then, it’s going to be tough tomorrow. But I’m so happy, incredible job by Exclusive Autosport. Our first front row lock-out and our first one-two finish so massive thanks to the team. Thanks as well to Artem. We’ve worked hard all off-season and it really helps to have a good teammate to push each other. It’s so great to be back here with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and with all the fans here – it adds a lot of emotion to the win.”

The win is Eves second in Indy Pro 2000, eighth on the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder, and the 11th in his North American junior open-wheel career.

Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing) was the third podium driver, making it an all veteran podium.

Note: Scratch that all-veteran podium. During the post race inspection, the No. 22 Juncos Racing PM-18 of Sulaiman was found to violate Rule 14.31.1, which states:

14.31.1. Car Weight – The minimum car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, Driver weight and meet the following minimums:

  • (a) All Events – 1295 pounds. 

The disqualification moved Sulaiman’s Juncos Racing rookie teammate Reece Gold onto the final step of the podium. Cameron Shields, a DEForce Racing rookie, moved up to the fourth spot and was the highest finishing of the five single-car entries. Rounding out the top five was series newcomer Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport).

Eves’ win is Exclusive Autosport’s second trip to victory lane at Barber Motorsports Park. Parker Thompson won Race #1 in 2018. The podiums for Eves and Petrov are the third and fourth podiums at Barber Motorsports Park.

Sulaiman grabbed the 11th podium at Barber Motorsports Park for Juncos Racing.

The field completed 82 on-track passes. RP Motorsport newcomer Enaam Ahmed, with ten, overtakes, the busiest driver. Ahmed, a well-regarded shoe with worldwide experience, was the biggest mover during the race, gaining seven spots after starting 13th.

Pre-race note: Wyatt Brichacek, a Jay Howard Driver Development rookie, who turned in the fourth quickest lap time during qualifying for Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Presented By Cooper Tires Race #1 started at the back of the 17-car grid after being disqualified from qualifying for running afoul of rule 14.31.1, which reads:

14.31.1. Car Weight – The minimum car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, Driver weight and meet the following minimums:
(a) All Events – 1295 pounds.

The 250 hp 2.0L engines for the first Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race of the 2021 season were fired at 11:05 am (central).

After one lap behind the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pace car, the all-Exclusive Autosport front row of Eves and Petrov brought the eight rows (plus one) to the green flag.

The green flag waves from the Barber Motorsports Park starter’s stand to get the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season started Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The field got through the first seven corners cleanly, with Petrov looking at Eves into Turn 8. The pole-sitter was able to hold the top spot. Behind the leaders – Kyffin Simpson, Enzo Fittipaldi, and Jack William Miller – disagreed over track space at the exit of the blind, downhill right-hander. Miller and Simpson ended up off the track, and all three drivers fell to the rear of the field. All three combatants were able to continue but were forced to pit road for repairs and fell down a lap to the leaders.

The running order after one lap was Eves, Petrov, McElrea, Sulaiman, Rasmussen, Gold, Shields, Ahmed, Yeany, Roe, Kaminsky, Brichacek, Lazier, Abel, Simpson, Fittipaldi, and Miller.

McElrea, Gold, Rasmussen, and Sulaiman fought through the last four corners before starting lap three. McElrea dropped from third to fifth, dropping to sixth on the next lap. An even bigger loser in that fight was reigning USF2000 champion Rasmussen, who fell to the 16th spot.

After 10 of the 25 laps, Eves’ lead over his teammate Petrov was 1.1 seconds adrift of the fellow series sophomore. Another second back was Juncos Racing’s Sulaiman. Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) and Cameron Shields (Turn 3 Motorsport) held down the fourth and fifth spot. McElrea was pressuring shields.

With ten laps remaining, Eves lead had increased to 1.9 seconds over Petrov. The second-place driver had stretched out to a 1.8-second gap over Sulaiman. The quickest driver on the track was Rasmussen, who was running two laps down.

On Lap 16, Roe began to drop back, with reports that his engine was not sounding as it should.

Eves lead over Petrov had grown to 3.2 seconds with five laps remaining. The gap among the top five was comfortable, but McElrea, who had damage from the earlier incident, was facing pressure from Ahmed. On the next lap, the RP Motorsport newcomer made the pass, moving into sixth.

Eves’ gap to his teammate Petrov when he took the checkered flag was 4.2 seconds.

On the last lap, Miller and Velocity Racing Development rookie Hunter Yeany got together on track with the pilot of No. 40 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports machine being assessed a 30-second post-race penalty for avoidable contact.

Indy Pro 2000 Race #1 at Barber Motorsports Park results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 25 laps
2 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport -4.274
3 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing -8.9125
4 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing -16.3089
5 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA -19.2318
6 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing -19.8502
7 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -20.7786
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -29.7037
9 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport -48.4602
10 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development -54.1507
11 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing -1 lap
12 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA -1 lap
13 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development -1 lap
14 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -1 lap
15 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport -1 lap
16 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports – 2 laps
17 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing DSQ

Yuven Sundaramoorthy goes green-to-checker to capture his first career USF2000 win

The S team Motorsports No. 22 of Yuven Sundaramoorthy on track at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season kicked off with an impressive green-to-checkered flag victory by Pabst Racing veteran Yuven Sundaramoorthy.

The trip to victory lane for Sundaramoorthy was the 18-year-olds first USF2000 win. It’s the 24th win for a driver representing Pabst Racing.

“This feels so great, it’s been so long coming, so long in the works,” said Sundaramoorthy after getting out his Pabst Racing No. 22. “To finally do this, and to do it from pole, feels great. I didn’t get fast lap, so I didn’t get the grand slam of points, but I’ll take it! I knew Prescott would burn his tires up in the aero wash so I just waited for him to fall back and focused on putting my laps together with no mistakes. It was a lot of pressure so mistakes were my biggest worry, but everything worked out. And having my teammate on the podium, with plenty of points for the team, makes it that much better. The Pabst team put everything together and the Cooper tires held up perfectly.”

Continuing a streak of good runs that began at the end of the 2020 USF2000, Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing) put early pressure on Sundaramoorthy but had to settle for second place, his second career USF2000 podium.

Josh Pierson put tremendous pressure on Campbell in the second half of the 20-lap race, but the Pabst Racing 15-year-old could not make the pass, finishing in third, his first career USF2000.

On an interesting note, all three podium drivers began their USF2000 careers with Exclusive Autosport.

Completing the all-veteran top five were d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) and Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport).

The top finishing rookie was Kiwi Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), who crossed the finish line in sixth place.

The win is first at Barber Motorsports Park for Pabst Racing, and the two podiums were the third and fourth at the Birmingham, Ala circuit for the Oconomowoc, Wisc. based team. Campbell’s podium is the first at Barber Motorsports Park for DEForce Racing.

The race featured 102 on-track passes, with Miller Vinatieri Motorsports rookie Kent Vaccaro leading the way, with nine overtakes.

Pole sitter for this afternoon’s race, Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), turned the quickest race lap. His 14th of 20 laps was timed at 81.5837 seconds, almost two seconds under the seven-year-old USF2000 track record during a race.

The 26 Elite Engine prepared 2.0L power plants were fired at 7:55 am. The skies were cloudy, and the ambient temperature was 57F when the front row of Sundaramoorthy and Campbell was shown the green flag to get the 2021 USF2000 season underway.

Sundaramoorthy, the pole-sitter, got a good jump on the rest of the field, and the 27 drivers got cleanly through the left-hand, down-hill Turn 1 and the first complete lap of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course.

26 USF2000 entries navigate the Alabama Roller Coaster during the season-opening race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Just after the first lap was completed, Rowe, Christie, and Round -Garrido had an incident in the Alabama Roller Coaster. The No. 99 Force Indy machine of Rowe stopped in the gravel in Turn 8, and the No. 92 Exclusive Autosport machine of Round-Garrido had significant damage, stopping in Turn 2.

Rowe and Round-Garrido were checked and released by the INDYCAR medical staff.

Christie was able to continue but finished many laps down.

The running order under yellow was Sundaramoorthy, Campbell, Pierson, d’Orlando, Denmark, Brooks, Kohlbecker, Green, Frazer, Lee, Porto, Siegel, Nepveau, Vodanovich, Garg, Evans, Palmer, Sikes, Burke, Vaccaro, Castro, Stamer, Navarro, Rowe, Round-Garrido and Christie.

The green flag came back out to start lap six. The leader got through the first four laps with a lead, with Campbell putting pressure on Sundaramoorthy. The No. 22 took the defensive inside line and held off Campbell in the No. 11.

On Lap eight, Denmark went four wheels off in Turn 13, losing two spots, falling from fifth to eighth.

Things settled in for the next five laps, with Campbell hounding Sundaramoorthy upfront. Sundaramoorthy, who had led every lap, had a 0.6 second lead over Campbell after turning the race’s quickest lap. Pierson was right on the rear wing of Campbell in third.

d’Orlando was just over two seconds back in fourth place and was being pressured immensely by Brooks. Frazer, who was up six spots, was sixth, with Kohlbecker, Denmark, Green, and Porto rounding out the top ten.

With six laps remaining, former Exclusive Autosport teammates, Campbell and Pierson were battling for second, which allowed Sundaramoorthy to pull a 1.5-second gap upfront.

Behind the podium positions, d’Orlando, Brooks, and Frazer were nose-to-tail in fifth, sixth, and seventh.

Sundaramoorthy’s lead to start lap 17 was a comfortable 1.6 seconds. Campbell had pulled a half-second gap over Pierson in third. Behind them, d’Orlando, Brooks and Frazer were going hammer and tong for the fourth spot.

The pole-sitter took the white flag with a comfortable 2.1-second lead.

Note: The No. 6 of Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), who originally finished 14th, was disqualified for running afoul of rule:

14.31.1. Car Weight – The minimum car weight shall include all fuel, lubricants, coolants, cameras, Driver weight and meet the following minimums:

  •  (a) All Events – 1295 pounds. 

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #1 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing
2 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 2.3321
3 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 2.7285
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 5.8890
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 6.3881
6 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 6.7071
7 5 Spike Kohlbecker Cape Motorsports 7.2986
8 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 8.6904
9 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 9.3802
10 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 11.1377
11 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 11.5673
12 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 13.4546
13 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 18.4392
14 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 18.9926
15 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 19.9779
16 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 27.1247
17 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 27.4056
18 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 29.6553
19 3 Evan Stamer Cape Motorsports 33.2251
20 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 38.1265
21 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 5 LAPS
22 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 16.2362
23 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 4.1042
24 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 5.6030
25 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 7.5750
26 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development DQ

The second USF2000 race of the day is set to get the green flag at 3:50 pm. (central)

David Malukas becomes sixth different Road To Indy pole sitter in busy day of qualifying

By Steve Wittich

For the sixth straight Road To Indy qualifying session, a different driver turned the pole-winning lap.

On late Friday afternoon, David Malukas became the sixth different driver to lead a Friday qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park.

After just missing out on the pole in the morning session, the HMD Motorsports sophomore could pip his teammate and race #1 pole winner Linus Lundqvist.

Starting behind Malukas and Lundqvist are Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport teammates Robert Megennis and Devlin DeFrancesco, who were within two-tenths of a second of the front row pairing.

Mirroring the other Road To Indy sessions, the final Indy Lights qualifying opportunity had a tight field with the top nine turning in laps within six-tenths of a second of the pole sitter.

When the second Indy Lights and final Road To Indy qualifying session of a busy Friday got underway, the ambient temperature was 68F, and the track temperature was 97.5F.

At the one-third pole of the half-hour session, Malukas held the provisional pole, with the top eight covered by less than half a second.

Malukas lap of 72.1473 seconds held down the provisional pole at the halfway point of the 30-minutes of qualifying.

That lap was six-tenths off the pole lap from this morning, but two-tenths of a second quicker than Sowery in second. Robert Megennis, Linus Lundqvist, and Sting Ray Robb rounded out the top five.

With seven minutes left in the session, the aptly sponsored DirtFish No. 24 of Benjamin Pedersen sent some trackside turf flying as he pushed to improve on his lap times.

With four minutes left in the session, lap times started to drop as the driver’s new Cooper Tire slicks began to get up to temperature.

Megennis was the first driver to move to the top of the timing screen on fresh tires, but the Andretti Autosport veteran’s time up top didn’t last long.

In the last three minutes of qualifying, the provisional pole traded hands between Malukas and Lundqvist four times, with Malukas taking the prize this time.

Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying #2 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:11.7021 0.000
2 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:11.7242 0.0221
3 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:11.8120 0.1099
4 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:11.8932 0.1911
5 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:11.9482 0.2461
6 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:11.9896 0.2875
7 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:12.2122 0.5101
8 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:12.2776 0.5755
9 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:12.2781 0.5760
10 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:12.4838 0.7817
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:12.7257 1.0236
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:12.9669 1.2648
13 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:13.2899 1.5878

Saturday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix is set to get the green flag at 12:15 pm (central).

The Turtle Plastics/HMD Trucking sponsored No., 79 on track at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Christian Rasmussen and Jay Howard Driver Development grab first Indy Pro 2000 poles

Christian Rasmussen, the newest Indy Pro 2000 pole-sitter on the track showing off the No. 1 livery of an Road To Indy champion. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

A reg flag with four minutes remaining in the 20-minute session brought an early end to the second USF2000 qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park.

The beneficiary of the red flag was Christian Rasmussen and Jay Howard Driver Development, who both scored their first Indy Pro 2000 poles. It’s the tenth career Road To Indy pole for the Danish driver.

Rasmussen’sRasmussen’s pole-winning lap in the JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 was timed at 76.5270 seconds, leaving Braden Eves’ lap in the morning as the track record holding effort.

Joining Rasmussen on the front row is Pabst Racing sophomore Hunter McElrea, who improved one position from his third starting spot for Race #1.

The second row is Juncos Racing rookie Reece Gold and Eves (Juncos Racing), the pole sitter for Race #1.

Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) will start fifth, making it five teams in the top five.

When the second Indy Pro 2000 qualifying session of the day began, the ambient temperature at the circuit was 66F, and the track temperature of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course was 102.4F

The early leader with five of twenty minutes expired was Juncos Racing rookie Reece Gold.

Gold’sGold’s teammate Manuel Sulaiman spun in Turn 1 after catching the aggressive kerbing. He could get the Telcel/Infinitum/WBC/Inteligentus/Anahuac sponsored No. 22 rolling, and the track remained green.

In the next five minutes, the last two USF2000 champions Eves and Rasmussen, spent time on the provisional pole.

Rasmussen held the provisional pole at the halfway point of qualifying with a lap timed at 76.5720 seconds. Eves, McElrea, Gold, and Simpson rounded out the top five.

In the next five minutes, Wyatt Brichacek moved into the top five.

Times started to drop as the drivers who put on fresh Cooper Tire slicks got them into the proper operating temperature. The first driver to improve

With four minutes remaining in the session, the red flag came out when the No. 11 of reigning F4 United States Championship champion contacted the barriers after a spin in Turn 13.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying #2 Results (unofficial)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:16.5270 0.000
2 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:16.6996 0.1726
3 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:16.7478 0.2208
4 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:16.8631 0.3361
5 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:16.9705 0.4435
6 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.0194 0.4924
7 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:17.0575 0.5305
8 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:17.1834 0.6564
9 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:17.2616 0.7346
10 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:17.2652 0.7382
11 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:17.2949 0.7679
12 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA 1:17.2965 0.7695
13 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:17.3412 0.8142
14 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:17.5067 0.9797
15 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.5592 1.0322
16 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development 1:17.8901 1.3631
17 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport 1:18.4744 1.9474

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Alabama Presented By Cooper Tires Race #1 rolls off at 11:10 am on Saturday.

Nolan Siegel leads dominant DEForce Racing 1-2-3 in USF2000 qualifying – lowers track record

Nolan Siegel on the track at Barber Motorsports Park in his No. 10 DEForce Racing car (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wtitich

Veteran Nolan Siegel led a DEForce Racing one-two-three in qualifying for Saturday afternoons Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama.

Siegel’s lap at 80.9794 in the Menlo Ventures/Aero Paint Technologies sponsored No. 10 lowered the track record set by Yuven Sundaramoorthy in the morning qualifying session.

Siegel’s teammates Prescott Campbell and Kiko Porto, along with Force Indy rookie Myles Rowe were all within one-tenth of the pole.

It’s the second career USF2000 pole for the 16-year-old. The pole win is the sixth USF2000 pole for DEForce Racing.

The top 11 were within a half-second of Siegel, and 21 of 26 drivers were within one second of the pole.

The green flag for the second Friday USF2000 qualifying session came out at 1:50 pm. After a cloudy first qualifying session, the sun was out, the ambient temperature was 66F, and the track temperature had just pushed over 100F for the first time today.

Myles Rowe (Force Indy) and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) spent most of the first half of the 20-minute session trading the provisional pole.

Rookie Rowe held the provisional pole when the red flag came out before the halfway point of qualifying. The No. 8 Jay Howard Driver Development USF-17 machine of Jackson Lee came to a stop on the track in Turn 8.

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team flat towed him back to pit road, and the green flag came back out with just over five minutes remaining to get on a flyer.

Rowe, with a lap at 81.3473 seconds, held the provisional pole with Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) and Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing).

The Cooper Tires didn’t have enough time to cool down, and drivers immediately improved on their lap times.

Veterans, Siegel, Porto, Campbell, Pierson, and d’Orlando all surpassed Rowe on their first laps at speed.

Siegel’s eighth of ten laps in the session was good enough to hold off his teammates.

Rowe, the early provisional pole sitter, had fallen to eighth but recovered to fourth on his final lap of qualifying.

Qualifying #2 for Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:20.9794 0.000
2 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:20.9868 0.0074
3 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:20.9888 0.0094
4 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:21.0748 0.0954
5 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.1864 0.2070
6 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:21.2368 0.2574
7 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:21.2743 0.2949
8 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.3005 0.3211
9 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:21.3130 0.3336
10 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:21.3483 0.3689
11 5 Spike Kohlbecker Cape Motorsports 1:21.4340 0.4546
12 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:21.5101 0.5307
13 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:21.6252 0.6458
14 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 1:21.6739 0.6945
15 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:21.7164 0.7370
16 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.8145 0.8351
17 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:21.9375 0.9581
18 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:21.9748 0.9954
19 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.9778 0.9984
20 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 1:22.0695 1.0901
21 3 Evan Stamer Cape Motorsports 1:22.0807 1.1013
22 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 1:22.2269 1.2475
23 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.2834 1.3040
24 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 1:22.3673 1.3879
25 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:22.6777 1.6983
26 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:22.8997 1.9203

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama Race #1 rolls off bright and early at 8 am (central) on Saturday morning.

Pabst Racing’s Yuven Sundaramoorthy grabs first career pole and set Barber Motorsports Park track record

The S team Motorsports No. 22 of Yuven Sundaramoorthy on track at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

For the first time in his 35 race USF2000 career, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, a Pabst Racing veteran, will start from the pole. The inside front row start is not the 18-year-old’s North American Junior Open Wheel first. The University Of Wisconsin – Madison freshman, started a pair of F1600 Championship Series races from the pole.

Sundaramoorthy’s pole lap of 81.1201-seconds breaks the seven-year-old track record by almost two seconds. The previous track record – 83.009 seconds – was held by Michael Epps (Belardi Auto Racing) during the 2014 Cooper Tires Winter Fest.

“This is amazing, especially with the spin I had this morning, said Sundaramoorthy after qualifying. “I’ve been at this for three years so to finally get a pole feels so good; I hope it means that there are more good things to come. This track is all about confidence: it’s all high-speed corners and long-duration corners, so you have to get the car perfect, which the Pabst crew did, and then me putting the lap together. I’m happy with pole but I’m looking to convert from first position. It’s so hard to pass here, so getting a good start will be key.”

The pole is the 26th career inside front row start for Pabst Racing. The Oconomowoc, Wisc. based team placed all three of their drivers in the top five, with Josh Pierson starting behind his teammate on the pole and rookie Jace Denmark starting directly behind Pierson.

Starting outside of the trio of Pabst Racing drivers are Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), and Spike Kohlbecker (Cape Motorsports).

The field is incredibly close; the top 11 are within three-tenths-of-a-second of Sundaramoorthy. The top 20 are within one second of the quickest lap.

The only red flag came out with just over two minutes remaining when Sundaramoorthy and Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport) both spun. Both drivers lost their quickest lap of the session, but Sundaramoorthy’s second-best lap was good enough to keep the pole.

Qualifying #1 for Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:21.1201 ——
2 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:21.1341 0.0140
3 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:21.1447 0.0246
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:21.1550 0.0349
5 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:21.2462 0.1261
6 5 Spike Kohlbecker Cape Motorsports 1:21.2561 0.1360
7 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:21.2734 0.1533
8 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.3320 0.2119
9 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:21.3604 0.2403
10 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:21.3937 0.2736
11 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:21.4138 0.2937
12 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:21.5422 0.4221
13 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:21.5644 0.4443
14 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.8327 0.7126
15 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.8855 0.7654
16 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:22.0193 0.8992
17 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:22.0581 0.9380
18 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.0745 0.9544
19 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:22.1599 1.0398
20 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 1:22.2160 1.0959
21 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 1:22.2463 1.1262
22 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 1:22.4870 1.3669
23 3 Evan Stamer Cape Motorsports 1:22.5584 1.4383
24 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:22.6373 1.5172
25 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 1:22.8472 1.7271
26 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:27.5223 6.4022

The second USF2000 qualifying session is set to get the green flag at 1:50 pm (central) this afternoon.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Alabama Race #1 rolls off bright and early at 8 am (central) on Saturday morning.

Page 1 of 5:1 2 3 4 »Last »