Archives for 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Coverage

Indy Lights at Detroit – Kirkwood leads practice, points leader meets concrete barrier

Indy Lights driver Kyle Kirkwood interviewed by NBC Sports prior to a race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

With only 40 minutes of practice, the lone practice session for the Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Detroit Presented By Cooper Tires doubleheader, it was necessary to 1) set a positive tone for the weekend and 2) keep it off concrete walls.

For Andretti Autosport rookie Kyle Kirkwood, who turned in a last-second lap timed at 84.2423 seconds to lead practice, it was mission accomplished.

For the points leader, HMD Motorsports veteran David Malukas, it was a very different story. The 19-year-old made moderate contact with the concrete barriers and was only able to complete four laps. The crew will have some work to do before qualifying gets underway in four hours. Compounding his issues is the fact that the four drivers most closely pursuing him were all in the top five.

Kirkwood was followed by his fellow rookie teammate Danial Frost, who only six-hundredths of a second off the top spot.

Rounding out that top five were Alex Peroni (Carlin), Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing), and Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/ Global Racing Group).

The session got started under sunny skies with the ambient temperature at a comfortable 74F. The track temperature was 86F.

At the eight-minute mark of the 40-minute session, the red flag came out for points leader Malukas, whose HMD Trucking Sponsored No. 79 came to a halt on the driver’s left at the exit of Turn 13. The Chicago, Ill. driver appeared to catch the curb on the inside of the corner. He got oversteer with the rear end of the car hitting the concrete barrier. That turned the front of the car into the barrier, folding the suspension over the nose of his IL-15.

Kirkwood was the quickest driver at that point in the session, with a lap timed at 87.3547 seconds. Benjamin Pedersen (HMD Motorsports w/GRG), Frost, Lundqvist, and Peroni (Carlin) had the five quickest laps.

The green flag came back out with 21 minutes – just over half of the session – remaining. At that point in the session, the field had completed only 51 laps, with most drivers completing four of five laps.

With 15 minutes remaining, Peroni was at the top of the timing screens. He was followed by Kirkwood, Sowery, Pederson, and Lundqvist in the top five.

Not surprisingly, the times continued to fall as the session wound down.

With 11 minutes remaining, Sowery was the first driver to break the 86 second barrier, going to the top of the timing screens for a few seconds. The following driver to turn a lap in the 86 seconds and grab the top spot was Kirkwood, who was quickly joined in the 85-second zone by his teammates Frost and Devlin DeFrancesco.

On his 14th lap of practice, Kirkwood went under 85 seconds, with approximately seven minutes remaining in the session.

Kirkwood held the top spot with five minutes remaining, but nine of the 13 drivers were within one second of Kirkwood.

Over the final three minutes of the session, Megennis, Lundqvist, Peroni, Frost, and Kirkwood all holding the top spot.

With one minute remaining in the session, Juncos Racing rookie Sting Ray Robb pulled behind the wall in Turn 7.

The 13 drivers completed 226 laps of the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Detroit Presented By Cooper Tires practice results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:24.2423 —— 20
2 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:24.3030 0.0607 19
3 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:24.5455 0.3032 19
4 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:24.7063 0.4640 18
5 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:24.7407 0.4984 20
6 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:24.9287 0.6864 15
7 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:24.9587 0.7164 20
8 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:25.2995 1.0572 20
9 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:25.7525 1.5102 19
10 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:26.1054 1.8631 17
11 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:26.1847 1.9424 16
12 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:26.2986 2.0563 19
13 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:29.0383 4.7960 4

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 2:30 pm for a 30-minute qualifying session.

Previewing Indy Lights first visit to Belle Isle in almost a decade

 

The Indy Lights field on the front stretch of the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit the last time the series visited in 2012 – (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

By Steve Wittich

After a one month break, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series is back in action this weekend; heading north to the Motor City – Detroit, Mich., for the seventh and eighth rounds in the fight for the 2021 championship and the $1,289,425 scholarship that goes with the title.

It’s been almost a decade since the top rung of the Road To Indy joined their big brother, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, at the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit. The race will be the 11th contested on the island and the 14th in Motown.

The first Indy Lights winner in Detroit was Ted Prappas, who took victory in the first of three races held on the 2.5-mile downtown circuit. In 1992, the series moved with Indy car to Belle Isle, where Adrian Fernandez visited victory lane.

The circuit has had two double winners in its history. Steve Robertson won in 1993 and on the way to the Indy Lights crown in 1994. Two years later, Tony Kanaan won his first visit to Belle Isle, returning the following year to pip his fellow Brazilian and Tasman Motorsports teammate Helio Castroneves by 0.355 seconds on the way to a championship.

Only Robertson (1994) and Kanaan (1997), along with Eric Bachelart (1991), have won in Detroit, Mich., on the way to winning the Indy Lights championship.

Indy Lights winners at The Raceway On Belle Isle

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2012 Gustavo Yacaman Team Moore
2000 Jonny Kane Team Green
1999 Derek Higgins Team Mexico Herdez
1998 Airton Dare Tasman Motorsports
1997 Tony Kanaan Tasman Motorsports
1996 Tony Kanaan Tasman Motorsports
1995 Robbie Buhl Dorricott Racing
1994 Steve Robertson Tasman Motorsports
1993 Steve Robertson Tasman Motorsports
1992 Adrian Fernandez John Martin Racing

Highlights from the last time Indy Lights visited Belle Isle

 

Indy Lights winners at the downtown Detroit street circuit

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
1991 Eric Bachelart Landford Racing
1990 Tommy Byrne Genoa Racing
1989 Ted Prappas Teamkar International

A clean sheet

Outside of simulators, none of the 13 entries for the pair of Indy Lights Grand Prix of Detroit Presented By Cooper Tires races has turned a wheel on Belle Isle.

A 9:50 am, 40-minute practice on Friday morning will be the first time the IL-15 will turn laps on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

The only active Indy Lights team with any experience at this track is Andretti Autosport, who finished second with Carlos Munoz in 2012 behind the wheel of the old Indy Lights car.

Andretti Autosport, along with Carlin, have recent data from their NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams to help them roll off the transporters with a solid starting set-up.

“There are a lot of unknowns going into Detroit,” explained a race winner on the Streets Of St. Petersburg, Fla., Kyle Kirkwood. “It’s the first time any driver in our field has driven this street course, and it’s the first time the IL-15 has competed here.

“The fact that our Andretti Autosport Indy Lights crew can overlay the many years of experience the team has racing in Detroit in INDYCAR should give us an advantage. Regardless, it will be an extremely enjoyable weekend being right against the walls.”

Looking back at the last street course event, the third and fourth rounds of the season should give fans an idea of what drivers to keep an eye on. Kirkwood and points leader HMD Motorsports veteran David Malukas were the two winners in’ St. Pete.”

The five highest-scoring (points) drivers on the St. Petersburg street circuit were:

  1. Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) – 57 points
  2. David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) – 54 points
  3. Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport) – 44 points
  4. Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/ Global Racing Group – 34 points
  5. Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport) – 33 points

The scholarship chase

With a $1,289,425 scholarship and at least three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, including a chance to qualify for the 106th Indianapolis 500 on the line, it’s never too early to start considering the title fight.

However, with less than 30% of the season’s possible points doled out and all 13 drivers within 100 points of the current championship leader, counting anybody out at this juncture of the campaign would be unwise.

Indy Lights points leader David Malukas in the HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79 leads an Indy Lights race on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Trailing Malukas by only 11 points headed to round seven and eight is his stablemate and double race winner Linus Lundqvist. The Swede, and defending Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered By Honda champion, believes that this will be one of the few races this season that he will be on equal footing, as far as track experience goes, with his competition.

“It’s basically a new track for everyone,” Lundqvist concludes. “I think that’s a positive for me. At most other tracks this year, I’m one of few rookies – as was the case in St. Pete, for example – but here, that disadvantage won’t be there. Having said that, it really doesn’t change anything in my own approach. I will take it session by session, do the best I can, and we’ll see where we end up.”

Interesting note: Lundqvist’s mentor Kenny Brack won a Barber Saab Pro race on Belle Isle in 1993; also making a pair of Indy car starts – a 24th in 2000 and a ninth in 2001 – at the track.

The 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion Kirkwood sits third on the championship table, 27 points in arrears of Malukas.

The Jupiter, Fla. native, has had a quick race pace all season, clocking the fastest lap of the race three times, but will need to improve his qualifying pace to keep up with his rivals. The 22-year-old started on the front row in the two previous street course races of the season and will look to repeat that this weekend.

Like the drivers below Malukas in the standing, Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) and Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport) are looking for some consistency.

Juncos Racing and Toby Sowery have some momentum, coming off their best two races of the year. The sophomore Indy Lights driver just missed out on a win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and came to Detroit trailing his former teammate Malukas by 46 points.

Surprisingly, the team struggled for pace on the Streets Of St. Petersburg but has had two months to rectify that problem. Check back at 10:30 am and the end of the lone 40-minute practice to see if they made progress.

Don’t overlook Carlin and their rookie driver Alex Peroni. The championship-winning team and Aussie have been steadily progressing up the grid, scoring their first podium together the last time the series was on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Don’t forget that Peroni was stout on street circuits in Europe. The 21-year-old has made four Formula Renault starts on the tight Circuit de Pau-Ville street circuit, winning three of those races.

Alex Peroni on the top step of the podium after a win on the Pau Street Circuit in 2017 (Photo Courtesy of Alex Peroni)

Next, we have the drivers – DeFrancesco and Frost – in sixth and seventh on the points table. Both drivers have had one good weekend – DeFrancesco at Barber Motorsports Park and Frost at St. Petersburg – and two mediocre weekends. They aren’t out of contention yet but will need less mediocre events and more podiums.

“After Road America, we’ll be at the halfway point in the championship, so it will be important to get through the next two weekends with a strong points haul,” said the pilot of the PowerTap Hydrogen sponsored No. 17. “This championship is so competitive, and you have to be at the very top of your game every week.

“We’re going to be giving it everything in the next two weekends to ensure Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport is in a strong position as we reach the halfway point of the championship and the halfway point of the year.”

After a podium in his debut at Barber Motorsports Park, HMD Motorsports w/GRG rookie Benjamin Pedersen has been in learning mode. The 22-year-old Dane, who sits eighth on the points table, will only be making his second start on a street circuit. Finishing every lap, cutting down on errors, and nipping at top-fives should be the goal.

“The ultimate goal is the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but right now, I am racing and learning a lot in Indy Lights,” explained Pedersen. “It is a new car and a new program for me. I competed on my first ever street circuit and brought the car home in one piece. I had a podium result in my series debut, so it has been great. There have definitely been some down times, but if that did not happen in racing, you wouldn’t be trying.”

Andretti Autosport veteran Robert Megennis is currently ninth in points, but with a close battle mid-pack, is only 18 points behind Peroni in fifth. The Fordham University student will need a pair of podiums to move into a more comfortable championship position as the series reaches the halfway point of the season.

“I’m really excited heading into my first ever time at Detroit. I love new tracks. I love street circuits, and the track looks like an absolute blast to drive. I know we’ve figured a lot out since the Indy GP, and I think we’re going to have a great weekend with a lot more potential to be up front.”

Juncos Racing rookie and reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb has not been happy with his results but is still only 28 points behind Peroni for fifth in the championship.

The two races at the first street circuit event of the year were the best of his rookie Indy Lights season – so far. From Payette, Idaho, Robb has been strong on street courses throughout his career, winning once and finishing in the top five on seven occasions.

The rookie trio of Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports), and Christian Bogle (Carlin) continue to make headway, steadily eating into the pace advantage their more experienced competitors started the season enjoying. The threesome has only one combined DNF and has completed 94% of their possible laps.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points table after six of 20 rounds.

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 151
2 Linus Lundqvist – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 140 11
3 Kyle Kirkwood – r Andretti Autosport 124 27
4 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 105 46
5 Alex Peroni – r Carlin 101 50
6 Devlin DeFrancesco – r Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 99 52
7 Danial Frost – r Andretti Autosport 95 56
8 Benjamin Pedersen – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 88 63
9 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 83 68
10 Sting Ray Robb – r Juncos Racing 72 79
11 Antonio Serravalle – r Pserra Racing 64 87
12 Nikita Lastochkin – r HMD Motorsports 61 90
13 Christian Bogle – r Carlin 59 92

Notes, numerology, and more miscellany

  • Despite a month’s break in the schedule, most teams have kept busy with private testing. Groups of teams and drivers have tested at Road America and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • Points leader David Malukas has now won the second race of the weekend at all three events this season. Going back to Indy Pro 2000, five of his six Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires wins have come in the second race of an event.
  • With the unfortunate cancellation of the Toronto, Ontario, these weekend races are the final two street circuit races of the 2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season.
  • Hometown hero Robbie Buhl won the 1995 race on Belle Isle, one of only two Indy Lights races in 1995 that Greg Moore didn’t win on the way to a dominant championship. Moore made up for it two years later, winning an Indy car race after starting the last lap in third place.
  • The track record, set in 2000, is old enough to go out for a Stroh’s. Jonny Kane, with a lap timed at 81.840 seconds, holds that record.

“I didn’t get a really good lap to be honest,” Kane said at the time. “The session was a bit messy with a lot of traffic around. I should have been able to go a couple of tenths quicker than that really. It will be a long race tomorrow and the important thing is to have a car that is consistent. I think we have that and hopefully we have enough speed that we will be able to pull away.”

  • All ten races on Belle Isle have had at least one caution. Half of those races have started with a first-lap caution.
  • Gustavo Yacaman beat Carlos Munoz to the line by only 0.164 seconds when Indy Lights visited Belle Isle, the closest finish on the island.

Gustavo Yacaman leads the Indy Lights race on Belle Isle in 2012 (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)


Indy Lights Grand Prix of Detroit Presented by Cooper Tires (event in Detroit, Mich., is in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone)

  • includes local times for all of your favorite drivers

Eastern Daylight Time – Devlin DeFrancesco – Kyle Kirkwood – Robert Megennis – Antonio Serravalle –

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 9:50am (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 2:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 9:30am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 12:10pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 10:35am (Sunday)

Central Daylight Time – Christian Bogle – David Malukas

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 8:50am (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 1:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 8:30am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 11:10am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 9:35am (Sunday)

Mountain Daylight Time – Sting Ray Robb

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 7:50am (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 12:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 7:30am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 10:10am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 8:35am (Sunday)

Pacific Daylight Time – Nikita Lastochkin – Benjamin Pedersen

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 6:50am (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 11:30am (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 6:30am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 9:10am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 7:35am (Sunday)

British Summer Time – Toby Sowery (Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 2:50pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 6:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 2:30pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 5:10pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 3:35pm (Sunday)

Central European Summer Time – Linus Lundqvist (Stockholm, Sweden) – Benjamin Pedersen (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 3:50pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 8:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 3:30pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 6:10pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 4:35pm (Sunday)

Moscow Standard Time – Nikita Lastochkin (Moscow, Russia)

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 4:50pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 9:30pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 4:30pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 7:10pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 5:35pm (Sunday)

Singapore Time – Danial Frost (Singapore)

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 9:50pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 2:30am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 9:30pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – midnight (Saturday/Sunday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 10:35pm (Sunday)

Australian Central Standard Time – Alex Peroni (Tranmere, Australia)

Indy Lights Practice #1 – 11:20pm (Friday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #1 – 4:00am (Saturday)
Indy Lights Qualifying #2 – 11pm (Saturday)
Indy Lights Race #1 – 1:40am (Sunday)
Indy Lights Race #2 – 12:05am (Monday)


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


A note about our presenting sponsor. 

Once again, a huge thank you to Cooper Tires for coming back to be the presenting sponsor of TSO Ladder for the fourth season. Without them, we would not be able to bring you our extensive Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires coverage. If you require tires, I highly recommend them. Our family has the Discover ® AT3 4S  on our SUV and CS5 Grand Touring on our car.

Michael d’Orlando Captures USF2000 Pole, Win Double at Lucas Oil Raceway

Michael d’Orlando on track at the Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship’s Freedom 75 race from Lucas Oil Raceway featured a familiar team atop the charts in Cape Motorsports, courtesy of a veteran savvy drive from Michael d’Orlando.

The third year driver scored his first series pole and second series win, but first on an oval, after expertly judging the traffic in front of him and defending against Prescott Campbell.

There’s a possible issue with Yuven Sundaramoorthy on the grid. The No. 22 Pabst Racing car is out of alignment and is set to roll form P8, and the Pabst and Elite Engines crew appear to be looking it over. But all is good. He entered this race leading the points by 13 going in over Porto.

Engines are fired in the 24-car USF2000 field full of Tatuus USF-17 entries right at noon, with sunny, partly cloudy skies and 53F ambient temperatures.

Nathan Byrd, who had a flip in the earlier Silver Crown race, was OK to go for the start here in his No. 19 Legacy Autosport entry. He’ll roll from 21st.

Green flag flies and d’Orlando leads from Campbell, Jace Denmark, Christian Brooks, Kiko Porto and Sundaramoorthy improve but Josh Pierson falls back to seventh from third. He rebounds to sixth by the end of Lap 4.

Campbell is close to d’Orlando going into Turn 3 on Lap 6 and begins his move to set up the lead pass on the Cape driver. The former Lucas Oil Race Series champion for DEForce is running half a tenth to a tenth quicker than is d’Orlando but falls back to 0.4 of a second behind at Lap 8.

With a 24-car field the back of the pack comes up quickly here and Peter Vodanovich is the first car within range, about 14 seconds behind the leaders. Lap times are 22-23 seconds.

There’s a big gaggle of close action among Matt Round-Garrido, Nolan Siegel, Spike Kohlbecker and Dylan Christie over ninth place.

On Lap 22, d’Orlando reaches Vodanovich and is able to pass him into Turn 3, beginning the lapping process. Campbell follows through shortly without losing much time and remains stuck on d’Orlando’s gearbox. Denmark is balked slightly.

The next battle ahead is between Byrd and Burke for 22nd. While the top two are delayed slightly, it allows Denmark to catch up a bit in clean air and get to within 1.1 seconds.

Campbell is right behind d’Orlando and makes it interesting as they run side-by-side for a bit.

By Lap 34 they’re behind Garg (P19) the last car on the lead lap

The top 18 down to Vaccaro are on the lead lap and a handful of d’Orlando’s teammates, Stamer and Nepveu, run ahead of Vaccaro on the road.

There is some spicy mid-pack action involving Round-Garrido, Row, Frazer, Navarro, Vodanovich (who’s a lap down) and then Nepveu and Stamer.

There’s another “almost” move from Campbell L48 going by d’Orlando through traffic but no. Stamer now last car on the lead lap. They’re by Stamer by Lap 50 but Nepveu lies ahead; d’Orlando past by the end of Lap 52.

A car is off pace on driver’s left on the back straight and it’s one of the Exclusive cars into the pits – Round-Garrido. He was P13 at the time.

With the top two past the other Cape cars next in line is Navarro, one of Campbell’s DEForce teammates and fellow Lucas Oil Racing Series champs. Navarro is P14 and the last car on the lead lap. There’s just 19 laps to go.

Campbell got close on Lap 63, moving to the inside and unable to complete the move. Navarro was able to pull away.

On Lap 66 the decisive moment of the race happens. The two collide! With Campbell to the inside and d’Orlando on the outside, the two interlock wheels through Turns 1 and 2. Somehow, both are able to continue as they exit the corner and able to remove themselves.

The pair of 25-second laps dropped both briefly into Denmark’s clutches, but he was unable to get within less than 1.3 seconds of the top two.

With five laps to go on Lap 70, d’Orlando was able to gap Campbell by 0.4916 of a second. Byrd was next ahead on the road as Navarro continued to find pace to emerge ahead of the leaders and remain on the lead lap.

D’Orlando makes a power move on Byrd to gap him to Campbell and pulls the lead out to 0.5818 of a second. With another pass of Garg heading into the final lap, the gap became an insurmountable 0.7103.

D’Orlando takes the checkered flag by 0.5268 of a second over Campbell, with Denmark third for Pabst and easily scoring his best career finish. His first podium and third place beat his previous mark of eighth place, set at Barber race one.

Porto, Brooks and Sundaramoorthy, the top three in the championship entering this race, complete the top six.

Both d’Orlando and Campbell recapped their races and showed mutual respect.

“We were interlocked – my rear tire to his front!” d’Orlando said. “We were going all the way through Corner 2 with locked tires. Yeah I was defending my position a bit, but he got his wheel underneath, so I tried to move up. But I didn’t know we were locked at that point! I just held on.

“Prescott was super fast. Second place is awesome. That whole race was awesome, the 75 laps on the edge of my seat. It was incredible.

“As you pass lapped traffic, the protocol is for them to stay wide. I put the car low to get the fresh aero. They didn’t give me too much of a fight – glad to have some to keep Prescott at bay!”

Campbell added, “I was mentally strong through the whole thing and kept getting runs on him.

“Last year at this race was a big turning point for me, good to step it up mentally. We did the reverse for this weekend. It’s a great progression from season to season.

“It was really close, Michael raced me hard but clean. I like that stuff. He didn’t make it easy so for as many runs as I got on him, he did everything he did keep the lead.”

Freedom 75 Unofficial Results

P No Name Team LapTime Diff
1 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 75 LAP 75
2 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 75 0.5268
3 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 75 0.9503
4 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 75 1.0468
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 75 5.7788
6 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 75 5.9328
7 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 75 6.1636
8 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 75 7.5531
9 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 75 8.0563
10 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 75 10.6016
11 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 75 10.6989
12 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 75 17.9502
13 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 75 22.6738
14 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 74 1 LAPS
15 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 74 1 LAPS
16 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 74 1 LAPS
17 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 74 1 LAPS
18 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 74 1 LAPS
19 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 74 1 LAPS
20 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 73 2 LAPS
21 19 Nathan Byrd Legacy Autosport 73 2 LAPS
22 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 73 2 LAPS
23 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 72 3 LAPS
24 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 52 Mechancial

Rasmussen Edges Gold in Indy Pro 2000 Thriller at Lucas Oil Raceway

Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) on track at Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

Twice attempted but not finished on Friday due to weather, the Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires series made up for the lack of running on its scheduled day with a thrilling Saturday race.

The Freedom 90 at Lucas Oil Raceway’s 0.686-mile oval saw a methodical push by eventual winner Christian Rasmussen to pressure and then pass dominant polesitter Reece Gold, who was once again close but no cigar to his elusive first series victory.

At 11:10 a.m. the engines re-fired on the 11 Indy Pro 2000 Tatuus PM-18 chassis for the restart of the Freedom 90 from Lucas Oil Raceway, with ambient temperatures only barely north of 50F. Despite a brief scare where the battery died on Jack William Miller’s No. 40 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports entry, he was able to resume.

The field ran three laps under caution to restart, after five laps were completed Friday night. The restart order was the same as the grid order Friday, since there were no green flag laps.

So after Lap 8, Reece Gold restarted first ahead of Braden Eves, Christian Rasmussen, Manuel Sulaiman, James Roe, Artem Petrov, Hunter McElrea, Jacob Abel, Jack William Miller, Kyffin Simpson and Wyatt Brichacek.

Rasmussen was the first mover early as he slotted to Eves’ inside to move into second place. The order remained stable after that with no other position changes.

Through Lap 17, Gold and Rasmussen were the only drivers lapping the 0.686-mile oval in the 20-second bracket with the other nine in the 21s. They built their lead to nearly 3 seconds over Eves.

There was a battle towards the back among Miller, Simpson and Brichacek with the three covered by less than a second.  Simpson darted to the inside on Lap 23 at Turns 1 and 3 but was unable to pass Miller for position.

At a third of the way through the race, Lap 30, Gold led Rasmussen by 1.4964. The order was exactly the same as qualifying from fourth through 11th, with the closest battles the track for fourth between Sulaiman and Roe and the aforementioned Miller, Simpson and Bricachek battle at the back.

Gold was roughly 5-10 laps away from catching the tail-enders at this point, and we figure that could provide Rasmussen’s opportunity to pounce. Traditionally in Road to Indy races here, lapped traffic can singlehandedly swing the difference on a track that’s notoriously hard to pass on.

By Lap 34 Simpson is finally past Miller, briefly, for ninth, but is unable to hold it exiting Turn 2 on the next lap. Miller gets it back on Lap 35.

With this trio just ahead of the leaders, Gold’s gap to Rasmussen is just 1 second.

The Simpson/Miller battle continues and Gold is now right within Brichacek’s rear wing.

Gold passes Brichacek and Miller by the end of Lap 40 and puts two cars between himself and Rasmussen, which extends the gap slightly. Rasmussen is stuck behind Miller in traffic and loses precious tenths.

But at halfway, Lap 45, Gold’s lead is just 0.7414 over Rasmussen. It’s still the same order behind them.

Gold’s Juncos Racing teammate, Simpson, is the next driver to lap.

Sulaiman and Roe are closing on Eves, while Gold is adjusting his apex slightly through the corners and running middle of the road compared to Rasmussen running higher.

Big move with Simpson as Gold gets a little help lapping him, and Rasmussen gets balked slightly. Gap’s up to 0.8539.

Sulaiman gets to the inside of Eves for third on Lap 59 as they’re behind the Miller/Brichacek battle.

A bit further back, McElrea gets Petrov for sixth on Lap 63 to the inside of Turn 3. McElrea by Roe for P5 on Lap 66 exiting Turn 4 as the lone Pabst Racing entry here has come alive later in the race.

At Lap 68, Gold’s lead to Rasmussen is 0.6278 of a second. It’s up slightly from just over 0.4. More traffic lies ahead, in the form of Petrov in eighth, Abel in seventh and Roe in sixth. Abel tries on Roe for sixth on Lap 69 and completes a nice move for the position.

After a few laps, the moment of truth arrived between Gold and Rasmussen. As Gold scythed through some slower cars, Rasmussen kept the pressure on as the race reached Lap 75 of 90 and then hit more traffic.

Things got even crazier with a four-wide moment entering Turn 1. Gold and Rasmussen were to the inside of Roe in the middle and Brichacek up high.

Rasmussen was able to put the power down on corner exit of Turn 2, with the momentum to the inside of Turn 3 and 4. The two ran side-by-side for a couple laps before Rasmussen completed the move to the inside of Turn 3 and 4 and got the pass done by Lap 78.

Gold fought valiantly back to keep the pressure on Rasmussen and for a few laps it looked like he had the opportunity to get him back. But ultimately Rasmussen pulled away from there to win by 0.6655 of a second, for his fourth win this season – all of them coming in the last five races. Behind the Jay Howard Driver Development entry, Gold and Sulaiman ensured Juncos Racing had two more podium finishers.

The momentum was fully with the Dane, and Gold fell shy once again of his elusive first Indy Pro 2000 victory. This was his fourth straight pole producing a result just shy of the win. In the three races at Indianapolis he finished third, fourth and second.

Both took a moment to reflect on an incredible battle, which unfortunately witnessed one driver come up short.

“What a race!” exclaimed Rasmussen. “We started third, got up to second at the first part of the race. Then we ran second, kind of maintained the gap to Reece. It’s super hard to pass around here, especially when Reece was running as quick as he was.

“We had the chance with the backmarkers; I just went hard to pass on the inside into 1 and made it stick. I managed to then hold him off. It was a great run; I think we are leading the championship by now. It’s a great feeling.

“The car was definitely a little bit loose! The track was tricky conditions but we managed to pull it off.”

Gold, who embraced driver coach Ozz Negri after the race (Negri celebrates his birthday today) said of his own valiant effort, “The traffic threw me off my rhythm, but he got back by us. I couldn’t get back by. Overall it was a good race.

“It’s bittersweet trying so hard and leading so much. It hurts a little, but overall a good result.

“(The Indy Pro 2000 car) So much heavier on the arms. I was pretty tired; there’s more grip than the USF but a lot of fun.”

Freedom 90 Unofficial Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 90 LAP 90
2 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 90 0.6655
3 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 90 16.4220
4 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 90 18.2446
5 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 90 18.9892
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 90 20.1043
7 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 89 1 LAPS
8 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 89 1 LAPS
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 88 2 LAPS
10 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 88 2 LAPS
11 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 85 5 LAPS

Carb Night Classic Postponed from Friday to Saturday

Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) on track at Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

Weather played havoc with repeated attempts to start the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway for the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires. So both the Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 races will shift from Friday night to Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m.

Things looked promising enough after USAC’s running with both Silver Crown and Midget cars completing their hot laps. However, a pair of incidents – one for a Silver Crown car hitting the Turn 3 wall hard and laying down a significant amount of fluid and another for Ryan Shilhuski, an Exclusive Autosport mechanic, emerging unscathed after a rollover accident exiting Turn 4 in his Midget – slowed the preliminary laps before the green flag flew for Indy Pro 2000.

At 9:08 p.m. the 11 Indy Pro 2000 cars hit the track and lined up on the front straight. There was 5 minutes to the command to start engines and the pre-race festivities commenced, including an unusually hurried rendition of the national anthem.

The grid saw Reece Gold on pole in the No. 55 Juncos Racing Tatuus PM-18 ahead of Braden Eves, Christian Rasmussen, Manuel Sulaiman, James Roe, Artem Petrov, Hunter McElrea, Jacob Abel, Jack William Miller, Kyffin Simpson and Wyatt Brichacek.

Engines have fired and there will be three warm-up laps.

The third time by is green for the 90-lap Freedom 90, and the second time by is when the 50-minute clock starts.

The clock has started with the pace car still in front of the field. Laps count under this full-course caution as the pace car remains out to gauge track and weather conditions.

There is some light moisture in the air and the field remains behind the pace car for four laps.

On the fifth lap the flag stand displays the red flag and the field heads to pit lane.

Race control sends the Indy Pro 2000 cars back to the paddock with the rain intensifying.

At 10 p.m., series officials indicated they are working to get the track ready within an hour.

But if there’s any further rain between now and the intended restart, we’ll be done for the night.

According to the race director, the track temperature is 65F at the moment. The ambient is much cooler, just 50F.

Reports of sprinkles as Indy Pro 2000 cars head back to pre-grid. And unfortunately not long after that came the call at 10:30 p.m. that the remainder of Friday night activities were scrubbed.

Updated times for Saturday are 11:00 a.m. ET for the Indy Pro 2000 race, the Freedom 90, and then 11:45 a.m. ET for the USF2000 race, the Freedom 75.

Gold, d’Orlando Claim Poles for Carb Night Classic

Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) on track at Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The build-up to the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is set to continue tomorrow with the traditional “Carb Day” final practice session, but just a few miles west of the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development drivers will be honing their own skills at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval for the Carb Night Classic – “The Race Before the 500.”
But first, as with their better known and more experienced brethren in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, drivers on the first two rungs of the open-wheel ladder – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – undertook their own single-car qualifying sessions this evening on the 0.686-mile, high-banked oval.
Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., carried forward the speed he displayed two weeks ago at the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course by once again qualifying fastest of the Indy Pro 2000 field and thereby securing pole position for the Cooper Tires Freedom 90 for Juncos Racing. In USF2000, Michael d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., set the pace for the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 for Cape Motorsports.
All drivers completed two qualifying laps, venturing out in the reverse order of their current championship positions, with the aggregate times determining their grid positions.

Gold on Top Again in Indy Pro 2000

Last year’s USF2000 champion, Christian Rasmussen, from Copenhagen, Denmark, had paced the field during a pair of test sessions earlier today, but when it mattered in qualifying, Gold laid down the best two laps in 41.7287 seconds, an average speed of 118.365 mph.
Gold, who finished third in last year’s USF2000 title-chase, had developed an affinity for the Lucas Oil Raceway oval while finishing second one year ago. And after sweeping all three Indy Pro 2000 poles on the road course recently, the teenager rose to the task again this evening. Now he has his eyes set on an overdue maiden victory.
“This is awesome – it’s not the big track, but it’s still great,” said Gold. “It means a lot to be on pole on an oval in Indianapolis just two days before the Indy 500. And with three poles at the grand prix, I guess there’s just something about Indianapolis. We’ve been doing really well lately and I’m really happy. The track changed a bit from practice but we made some last-minute changes to the car and it was super good for qualifying. On the out lap, you have time to get a feel for where you are with the car and from there, it’s just a matter of going as fast as you can. I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Series points leader Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, will start second tomorrow evening for the Exclusive Autosport team, with Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Gold’s teammate, Manuel Sulaiman, from Puebla, Mexico, on row two of the grid.
Also impressive was Ireland’s James Roe, marking his oval track debut by qualifying strongly in fifth for Turn 3 Motorsport.
The green flag for Friday’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90 is slated for 8:05 p.m. EDT. Global live streaming can be found on the Road to Indy TV App and at RoadToIndy.TV and indypro2000.com.

Michael d’Orlando on track at the Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

First Pole for d’Orlando

There have been mixed emotions so far this season for d’Orlando. Last time out on the road course he was disappointed to qualify mid-pack, only to post three spectacular charges to notch a trio of top-four finishes and vault himself into championship contention. The youngster will have rather less to do tomorrow after securing his first-ever pole position, although he still faces the significant challenge of holding off the remainder of a stacked 24-car field for 75 laps.
“I am so happy – I never thought my first series pole would come on an oval,” exclaimed d’Orlando. “I knew we had some work to do after the first test session; we made some improvements to the car and to my driving and we were much quicker in the second session. At that moment, I knew I had the pace, since my quickest times were at the end of the session when the tires were falling off. It was an interesting qualifying, with gusty winds. You could go hard into Turn One because you were into the wind, but you lost the aero in Turn Two, so you really had to drive to what the wind was doing – and I guess I did! I kind of surprised myself, running two laps at a 22.5, but I’m super proud of the job the team and I did and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), from Newport Beach, Calif., will start second with Pabst Racing teammates Josh Pierson, from Wilsonville, Ore., and top rookie qualifier Jace Denmark , from Scottsdale, Ariz., sharing row two.
Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), from Santa Clarita, Calif., and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), from Recife, Brazil, will start fifth and sixth, with championship leader Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), from Delafield, Wis., down in eighth behind Englishman Matt Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport).
The Cooper Tires Freedom 75 is set to kick off an intense evening of racing tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Global live streaming can be found on the Road to Indy TV App and at RoadToIndy.TV and usf2000.com.

TSO Ladder’s preview of the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 action at the Carb Night Classic on the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval

 

By Steve Wittich

Both series basics

Lucas Oil Raceway, a six-mile drive west of the main gate at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Crawfordsville Road opened in 1960. Planned as a multi-use motorsports park, the 300-acre facility featured a ¼-mile drag strip, a 2.5-mile road course and the 0.686-mile oval.

The first major event at the facility colloquially known locally as IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) was the 1961 “Pre-500 Speed-O-Rama.” Like this year’s Carb Night Classic, that event also served as a warm-up for the Indianapolis 500.

A.J. Foyt led 29 of 30 laps on what was then a 0.625-mile dirt oval, on the way to an Untied States Auto Club (USAC) Sprint Car victory. Two days later, “Super Tex” would win his first of four Indianapolis 500 titles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Whether it was called Indianapolis Raceway Park, O’Reilly Raceway Park, or Lucas Oil Raceway, the Road To Indy and it’s forerunners have a long history of spending the days prior to the Indianapolis 500 at the 0.686-mile oval. That history dates back to 1979 and a USAC Mini-Indy Super Vee 100 lap race won by Ken Nichols. Nichols was joined on the podium by fellow Indy car drivers Dennis Firestone and Geoff Brabham.

The SCCA version of Super Vee also raced on the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval between 1985 and 1989.

You can watch the 1988 SCCA Bosch/Volkswagen Super Vee Series race here:


Important points implications

We’ll review the current points situation for each series below, but wanted to remind Road To Indy fans that the points on offer are increased for the all oval races.

Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires oval points chart

POSITION POINTS POSITION POINTS POSITION POINTS
1 45 10 17 19 4
2 38 11 15 20+ 2
3 33 12 14
4 29 13 12
5 26 14 11
6 23 15 9
7 21 16 8
8 20 17 6
9 18 18 5

The middle rung on the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 series, heads to the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval for the 11th time since 2010. The Cooper Tires Freedom 90 is the first of two ovals the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series will visit in 2021.

Five different teams – Andretti Autosport (3 wins), Exclusive Autosport (2 wins), Juncos Racing (2 wins), Team Pelfrey (2 wins) and Legacy Autosport (1 win) – have collected victories at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Only twice in ten seasons has the Indy Pro 2000 race winner gone on to also claim the championship. Conor Daly in 2010 and Matthew Brabham in 2013 won on the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval while also winning the advancement scholarship.

Indy Pro 2000/Pro Mazda/Star Mazda winners at Lucas Oil Raceway

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2020 Kody Swanson Legacy Autosport
2019 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport
2018 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport
2016 Patricio O’Ward Team Pelfrey
2015 Weiron Tan Andretti Autosport
2014 Garrett Grist Andretti Autosport
2013 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport
2012 Connor De Phillippi Juncos Racing
2011 Connor De Phillippi Team Pelfrey
2010 Conor Daly Juncos Racing

Juncos Racing’s Conor Daly celebrates an Indy Pro 2000 (Star Mazda) win at Lucas Oil Raceway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)


Championship fight

A pair of USF2000 champions – Braden Eves (2019) and Christian Rasmussen (2020) are currently separated by only three points with just over one-third of the season’s points distributed. On the line is a $718,065 scholarship and a seat in Indy Lights, one step closer to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Exclusive Autosport sophomore Eves has been the model of consistency this season, with his average starting and finishing spots being an identical 2.7, with both being the series best.

Rookie Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) has stood on the top step of podium three times, while Eves has visited the top step twice. Both drivers have had five stood on the podium five times.

Where Eves has the advantage over his new rival is avoiding poor results. The Ohioan is one of three drivers to complete all 180 laps this season and his worst finish of the season is a sixth in St. Petersburg, Fla. Conversely, Rasmussen has finished off the lead lap twice, resulting in dissapointing 13th and 9th place finishes.

Eves has a slight oval experience advantage from a personal and team standpoint. The 22-year-old made one oval start in USF2000 in 2019 and a pair of oval Indy Pro 2000 starts last year. At Lucas Oil Raceway in USF2000, Eves started 12th, and gained seven spots to finish fifth.

Current Indy Pro 2000 points leader Braden Eves on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Cambridge/Exclusive Autosport sponsored No. 91 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

He had less success at that same track in his first Indy Pro 2000 appearance, starting eighth and finishing seventh. At World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway last year, the Ohioan had the best car late in the 55-lap race, starting fifth, finishing second and turning the quickest lap of the race while pressuring Devlin DeFrancesco for the win.

Rasmussen is making his third oval start and his third at this track. As an USF2000 rookie, the Dane started his first oval race from 15th; putting in an impressive drive over 75 laps and finishing in sixth. Last year, the 20-year-old started from the pole and drove away from his competitors for a 6.5 second win.

From the team point of view, Eves’ Exclusive Autosport squad the past success of wins in 2018 and 2019 on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval to fall back on. Jay Howard Driver Development won the USF2000 race at the short oval last year but is making their first Indy Pro 2000 start.

Eves and Rasmussen aren’t the only championship contenders in the Indy Pro 2000 field stacked with Indy Lights level talent. The next three drivers – Artem Petrov (Exclusive Autosport), Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) and Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) are still within 50 points of the tops spot, with the top 10 still within 100 points of Eves.

Petrov will be making his second Indy Pro 2000 start at Lucas Oil Raceway and his fourth Indy Pro 2000 oval start. The Exclusive Autosport veteran’s best finish is third at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway last season.

Gold and McElrea finished second in their respective races at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2020, Gold turning the quickest lap of the race in USF2000 and McElrea having the quickest car on the short oval at the end of last year’s 90 lap Indy Pro 2000 race.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points table after seven races

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 171
2 Christian Rasmussen – r Jay Howard Driver Development 168 -3
3 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 144 -27
4 Reece Gold – r Juncos Racing 137 -34
5 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 125 -46
6 Enaam Ahmed – r RP Motorsport 100 -71
7 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 91 -80
8 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 90 -81
9 Kyffin Simpson – r Juncos Racing 88 -83
10 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 87 -84
11 Wyatt Brichacek – r Jay Howard Driver Development 67 -104
12 Jack William Miller – r Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 67 -104
13 James Roe – r Turn 3 Motorsport 63 -108
14 Cameron Shields – r DEForce Racing 43 -128
15 Flinn Lazier – r Legacy Autosport 37 -134
16 Hunter Yeany – r Velocity Racing Development 34 -137
17 Enzo Fittipaldi – r RP Motorsport 20 -151

Oval rookies

Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport) and Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing) are making their first ever oval starts this weekend.

“I’m looking forward to the Cooper Tires Freedom 90,” said James Roe. “It’s a big race in Indianapolis given it’s during the Indy 500 weekend. It’ll be my first time racing an oval which is naturally going to bring its own challenges and require a lot of quick thinking throughout the race. We did an oval test at Lucas Oil Raceway last week which went really well, and I settled in very quickly. The test gave the team a good idea on which way we want to roll out with the car. I’m ready for the challenge and excited to get on track.”

A driver winning their first ever oval start at Lucas Oil Raceway is not as uncommon as one might think. Weiron Tan (2015) and Danial Frost (2019) won their very first oval races and last year Kody Swanson won in his first appearance in a rear-engine race car on an oval.


Qualify well, finish well

The ten Indy Pro 2000 winners on the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval have all started on the front row, with eight of them beginning the race on the pole.

Only twice has the pole-sitter failed to win an Indy Pro 2000 race at the Clermont, Ind. oval. In 2010, pole-sitter Mikael Grenier finished second and last year, pole-sitter Manuel Sulaiman ended up on the final step of the podium.


Miscellaneous Indy Pro 2000 notes from Lucas Oil Raceway

  • Six different teams have had a driver start from pole at Lucas Oil Raceway. Andretti Autosport leads the way with a trio of pole starts. Active teams with poles starts are Exclusive Autosport (2), DEForce Racing (1) and Juncos Racing (1).
  • Ten different teams have had podium finishers on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval. Juncos Racing, with 10 podium finishes leads all teams. Active teams with podiums include Juncos Racing (10), Exclusive Autosport (2), DEForce Racing (1) and Pabst Racing (1).
  • Half of the ten Indy Pro 2000 races at Lucas Oil Raceway have gone caution free, including last year’s Freedom 90.
  • There has only been one first lap caution in the ten races.
  • The 2013 race featured two cautions and 21 laps run under yellow; highs for the event.
  • In 2013, Matthew Brabham crossed under the checkered flag 6.254 seconds ahead of Spencer Pigot, the largest margin of victory in a Indy Pro 2000 race at Lucas Oil Raceway.
  • The closest margin of victory occured in 2018, when current Road To Indy TV host Parker Thompson finished 0.2213 seconds ahead of Carlos Cunha.

The 2021 Cooper Tires Freedom 75 will be the 19th USF2000 held on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval.

Greg Tracy, for Primus Racing, won a 40 lapper in 1992. The Californian was joined on the podium by a pair of familiar names and the champions of the USAC Formula 2000 East Championship Series and the USAC Formula 2000 West Championship Series.

On the second step of the podium was the East champion Chris Simmons, an NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship winning engineer with Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon. On the final step of the podium was the West champion and five time Indy car race winner Greg Moore.

USF2000 race winners at Lucas Oil Raceway

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2020 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2019 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing
2018 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports
2016 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2015 Jake Eidson Pabst Racing
2014 Aaron Telitz ArmsUp Motorsports
2013 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports
2012 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports
2011 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports
2010 Patrick McKenna Cape Motorsports
2002 Tom Dyer John Walko Racing
2001 Piero Rodarte Roquin Motorsports
2000 Aaron Justus Cape Motorsports
1996 Allen May
1995 Memo Gidley Cape Motorsport
1994 Anthony Lazaro
1993 Clay Collier Cal-Met Racing
1992 Greg Tracy Primus Racing

$401,305 on the line

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series heads to the lone oval event of the year at the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval with a new points leader. A pair of wins and three podiums by Pabst Racing’s Yuven Sundaramoorthy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, combined with an unfortunate disqualification* for Christian Brooks, leaves Sundaramoorthy with a 13 point lead over DEForce Racing sophomore Kiko Porto and a 16 point advantage over Brooks and Pabst Racing teammate Josh Pierson.

Current USF2000 points leader Yuven Sundaramoorthy celebrates a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Of the four main championship contenders, Brooks has had the best finish on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval last year, starting fifth and finishing fifth. Sundaramoorthy finished ninth, Porto finished 14th and Pierson finished 19th.

From a team perspective among the top four in the championship, Sundaramoorthy and Pierson should have a slight advantage. Their Pabst Racing squad has one win (Jake Eidson), one pole (Colin Kaminsky) and five podiums at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Interesting note: Augie Pabst, Jr., the founder of Pabst Racing and father of current team owner Augie Pabst III, won the first road race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park road course. The renowned sports car driver won a 40 lap USAC Road Racing Championship event in the iconic Scarab.

Michael d’Orlando, a Cape Motorsports pilot, is currently fifth in points, only 37 points behind fellow veteran Sundaramoorthy. The 19-year-old is the returning driver with the best finish at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2020. He started fourth and finished fourth in his only career oval start.

There are currently 12 drivers within 100 points of leader Sundaramoorthy, with four of them rookies. The current rookie points leader is Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), who has a slim ten point lead over Cape Motorsports teammate and Canadian Thomas Nepveu. The St. Louis, Mo. based Kohlbecker has been incredibly consistent so far during his rookie campaign, finishing sixth or seventh in six of the seven races this season.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points table after seven races

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 154
2 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 141 -13
3 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 138 -16
4 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 138 -16
5 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 117 -37
6 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 101 -53
7 Spike Kohlbecker – r Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 97 -57
8 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 91 -63
9 Thomas Nepveu – r Cape Motorsports 87 -67
10 Billy Frazer – r Exclusive Autosport 74 -80
11 Matthew Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 57 -97
12 Jace Denmark – r Pabst Racing 56 -98
13 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 49 -105
14 Dylan Christie – r Turn 3 Motorsport 46 -108
15 Myles Rowe – r Force Indy 43 -111
16 Erik Evans – r Velocity Racing Development 43 -111
17 Jackson Lee – r Jay Howard Driver Development 39 -115
18 Grant Palmer – r Exclusive Autosport 38 -116
19 Ely Navarro – r DEForce Racing 36 -118
20 Andre Castro – r Legacy Autosport 27 -127
21 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 27 -127
22 Peter Vodanovich – r Jay Howard Driver Development 23 -131
23 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 23 -131
24 Kent Vaccaro – r Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 13 -141
25 Evan Stamer – r Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 12 -142
26 Trey Burke – r Joe Dooling Autosports 12 -142
27 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 6 -148

Champs at Lucas Oil Raceway

Of the 20 season that the current Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Series or it’s successors visited the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval, 20% of the winners on the short oval have gone on to win the season long championship. Those are:

  • 2020 – Christian Rasmussen
  • 2018 – Kyle Kirkwood
  • 2016 – Anthony Martin
  • 2011 – Petri Suvanto
  • 2000 – Aaron Justus

The average finishing position of the 20 champions that race at Lucas Oil Raceway is 4.8.
A dozen of the eventual champions finished on the podium on the short oval. Only twice – Steve Knapp (1996) and Chris Simmons (1993) – in 20 races has the eventual champion failed to finish a race at Lucas Oil Raceway during his championship season.


Busy, busy

A pair of USF2000 drivers are going to keep themselves busy this weekend by racing in multiple series and giving themselves a chance to match Kody Swanson’s 2020 feat of winning in a rear-engine and front-engine open-wheel car on the same night.

Trey Burke will be contesting the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 and the 30-lap Brown’s Oil Champion Midgets race.

Nathan Byrd will be making his USF2000 debut with Legacy Autosport and will also be contesting the Brown’s Oil Champion Midget Race and USAC Silver Crown Series Race during the Carb Night Classic.

The Legacy Autosport/Metalloid/Sturgis Finishing sponsored No. 19 of Nathan Byrd during USF2000 testing (Photo Courtesy of Legacy Autosport)

Byrd, who grew up in a racing family – think Byrd Racing and their extensive Indianapolis 500 and open wheel history- has compiled an impressive amount of seat time so far in 2021. The 21-year-old has contested 21 races across late models (with Rick Ware Racing), trucks, F4/Skip Barber Formula Car Series, modifieds, Focus midgets, F1000, and winged midgets.

Byrd, who made his national midget debut on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval last year, will take part in 13 total sessions at the Carb Night Classic, including ten of the twelve sessions on Friday.

“I did a test in the USF2000 car last August, putting in about 200 laps,” said soon to graduate Grand Canyon University senior. “I have about 300 laps there in the Silver Crown car. This will be my race debut there in both cars.

“There is a super talented group of drivers this year who have several races under their belts already. Even with my laps at LOR, it will be a huge challenge coming in, but I feel great with Legacy, they have had great laps in the past here.

“The Road To Indy is the best developmental platform to get to IndyCar and the Indy 500 and Legacy is a natural fit because of our families’ shared legacies. The Meyer family has such a legendary history in the sport. They have a winning formula at Lucas Raceway, so we are excited to partner up together with them, Tilson and Speed Sport to make some more history.”


Home race

The Cooper Tires Freedom 75 is a home race for a pair of Hendricks County residents and USF2000 rookies. Jackson Lee and Michael Myers are coming off their best finishes of the season.

Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Jackson Lee grabbed his first top ten of the season in the third race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course the last time the Avon, Ind. was on-track two weeks ago. The 18-year-old is making his first formula car oval start, but isn’t a complete newcomer to only turning left. Lee was a two-time USAC at Mini Indy champion in quarter midgets.

Michael Myers, a rookie who calls Lizton, Ind. home, drives for his family run Michael Myers Racing, finished the third race on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a career best 11th place. The 19-year-old who is enrolled in Harvard web development courses will be making his first career oval start.

 

Carb Night Classic Friday Schedule

TIME EVENT
3pm – 3:25pm USAC Midget Practice
3:30pm – 3:55pm USAC Silver Crown Practice
4:05pm – 4:20pm USF2000 Practice
4:25pm – 4:45pm Indy Pro 2000 Practice
4:50pm – 5:15pm USAC Midget Practice
5:20pm – 5:45pm USAC Silver Crown Practice
5:50pm – 6:20pm USAC Midget Qualifying
6:25pm – 6:55pm USAC Silver Crown Qualifying
7:05pm – 7:50pm USF2000 Race – Cooper Tires Freedom 75
8:05pm – 8:55pm Indy Pro 2000 Race – Cooper Tires Freedom 90
9:05pm USAC Midget Race
9:35pm USAC Silver Crown Race

 

* Exclusive Autosport’s Christian Brooks No. 44 was disqualified for violation of Rule 14.7.3 & 14.7.4.

Rule 14.7 from the USF2000 Rule Books states:

  • 14.7. Underwing
  • 14.7.1. The rear diffuser must be utilized at all Events and remain in the location and configuration as designed by the chassis Manufacturer.
  • 14.7.2. Not Applicable
  • 14.7.3. The underwing height as measured from the reference plane is 50mm +/- 5mm).
  • 14.7.4. The diffuser exit height is 90mm (+/- 5mm).
  • 14.7.5. Other than clear coat, no painting, tape, silicon, adhesive film, or any other substances are permitted on the bottom surface of the underwing except for filling or covering holes.

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


A note about our presenting sponsor. 

Once again, a huge thank you to Cooper Tires for coming back to be the presenting sponsor of TSO Ladder for the fourth season. Without them, we would not be able to bring you our extensive Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires coverage. If you require tires, I highly recommend them. Our family has the Discover ® AT3 4S  on our SUV and CS5 Grand Touring on our car.

Malukas edges Sowery in another IMS Indy Lights photo finish – this time on the road course

David Malukas won in a barnburner in Saturday’s Indy Lights race. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires completed its third doubleheader weekend of the season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

And for the third straight event, the same driver won the second race of the weekend: David Malukas.

In a finish reminiscent of the Freedom 100 that occurred on the IMS oval but won’t occur in 2021, Malukas ensured the fans and onlookers got a photo finish anyway with some excellent strategic defense against a very game and very poised Toby Sowery, who was keen to secure his first win of the season.

The pair of series sophomores were teammates in 2019 under the HMD Motorsports banner, with Sowery under the combined Team Pelfrey/HMD Motorsports umbrella.

On this Saturday, Malukas’ No. 79 HMD Motorsports Dallara IL-15 beat Sowery’s No. 51 Juncos Racing Dallara, then rookies Alex Peroni (No. 5 Carlin) and Kyle Kirkwood (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) to ensure four different teams finished in the top four.

The race had a photo finish with a final margin of victory of 0.0283 of a second, but it was a slow burner to get there. Once the final laps occurred though, the drama and action intensified.

The 35-lap race, five laps longer than the Friday first race dominated by Linus Lundqvist, featured a strategy play in hand as Kirkwood opted to start on a set of sticker Cooper Tires while the rest would use scuffed sets.

Malukas got a great start from pole while behind him, Sowery got past Lundqvist for second by the second lap. Peroni was fourth with Kirkwood fifth, ahead of two more Andretti cars (Devlin DeFrancesco and Danial Frost), Sting Ray Robb, Robert Megennis, Benjamin Pederson, Nikita Lastochkin, Antonio Serravalle and Christian Bogle.

Lundqvist then ran wide at the exit of Turn 12 from third, and dropped behind Kirkwood and DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco and Lundqvist were battling for position through Turns 1 and 2 once Lundqvist recovered his momentum.

With 20 percent of the race completed (seven of 35 laps), the order stabilized with Malukas up front by 0.8 of a second over Sowery. Peroni and Kirkwood would bide their time behind them, and Lundqvist was back in fifth around DeFrancesco.

Little changed by the halfway point, Malukas still up by nearly a second on Sowery. Peroni closed to within 1.7 seconds ahead of Kirkwood, Lundqvist, DeFrancesco, Megennis and Frost.

By Lap 23, Kirkwood was within three seconds so a large blanket would have covered the top four cars.

The gap came down further by Lap 30, with five laps to go. Malukas had Sowery just behind at 0.564 of a second.

It all built to the great finish with two laps to go. Sowery had a brief run on Turn 7 but wasn’t close enough to make an attempt.

As the leaders took the white flag to start Lap 35, Sowery had the run on the outside. Malukas gamely defended, ensuring Sowery didn’t have much road to work with on the outside of Turn 1 even though that would have set him up well for the left-handed Turn 2.

With Sowery off the apex, albeit briefly, it appeared as though he’d fall into Peroni’s clutches. But Sowery regained the momentum and had enough of an effort to come back into Turn 7. Malukas again defended well, in the middle of the road to ensure Sowery had a difficult time picking lines.

Once they were through the Turns 8 through 12 complex, it appeared as though Malukas had enough to hold on. Alas, Sowery had one more charge left in him, and darted to the outside to try a final pass at the line.

He was close, but not close enough, less than three hundredths back at the checkered flag.

A joyous Malukas attempted to chronicle what happened when speaking to NBC Sports’ Katie Kiel on the Peacock broadcast.

No I didn’t (know he’d win); that was awesome!” he said. “We came from St.Pete and it can’t get more stressful than that. Then Toby, my brother, that was even more stressful! I knew we had push to pass and I was like, please don’t get my toe, please don’t get my toe! I went into (Turn) 1, and I had a huge lockup on the front right but the Coopers, as good as they are, I don’t think any tire can hold up to what I did. Then I was like, is he there but I can’t see him?!? I almost started crying at the end there. Thank you to the team, that was incredible.”

Sowery, who’d given it a valiant effort and came up just shy, noted he was intentionally strategic about his push-to-pass usage.

I wish we could have used one more. We didn’t have the pace so it was strategic,” he said. “We had a good race. For me it was nearly done, but it was clean and respectful. Hate to see it end up this way but he drove a great and flawless race. Well done to him.” 

The unofficial points after this race see Malukas atop the charts by 11 points over Lundqvist (151-140) with Kirkwood third, 27 back, Sowery now up to fourth after a needed good weekend 46 back and Peroni fifth, 50 back. Four different teams are in the top five in the championship.

The series heads next to Detroit, where it has not raced since 2012.

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 35 LAP 35
2 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 35 0.0283
3 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 35 0.7047
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 35 1.1236
5 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 35 8.1975
6 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 35 9.5712
7 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 35 17.4062
8 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 35 17.8252
9 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 35 22.7898
10 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 35 28.7035
11 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 35 30.1059
12 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 35 37.2713
13 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 35 39.5541

Rasmussen rebounds with win in third Indy Pro 2000 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Christian Rasmussen on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Indy Pro 2000 action in May 2021 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The command to fire the engines for the final Indy Pro 2000 race of the season at 11:35 am, only three hours after completing Race #2.

Of note: The Pabst Racing crew changed a power plant in the No. 18 of Hunter McElrea in between Race #2 and Race #3 in 90-minutes. That’s impressive.

For the third straight Indy Pro 2000 race, Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) started from the pole and outside pole.

Christian Rasmussen, who had a mechanical issue in Race #2, started on the inside of the second row but got a great start, going three-wide with Gold and Eves into Turn 1. The trio all emerged safely, with Rasmussen grabbing the lead.

Eves, who started on the outside of the first row, fell to fourth.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Rasmussen, Gold, Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), Eves, Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Artem Petrov (Juncos Racing), James Roe (

1 55 77 91 21 51 18 5 22 40 42 3 5

On Lap 5, McElrea was able to get around for sixth Abel.

On Lap 7, Race #2 winner Petrov moved around Sulaiman for the eighth spot. A lap later, the Road To Success/Bell Helmets/226ers sponsored No. 42 gained another place, getting past Abel for seventh.

After ten laps, Rasmussen’s lead over Gold was over one second for the first time. Ahmed was one second behind Gold in third. Eves, Simpson, McElrea, Petrov, Sulaiman, Miller, and Abel rounded out the top ten.

At the crossed flags used to signify the race’s halfway point, Rasmussen’s lead was 1.3 seconds. The best battle on the track was for tenth. Abel held the spot, but he was facing immense pressure from Roe and Kaminsky.

Eves was hounding Ahmed for the final spot on the podium with ten laps remaining, starting Lap 15 only six-tenths of a second behind the RP Motorsport rookie. The Exclusive Autosport veteran was able to get by the rookie in Turn 7 with six laps remaining.

With five laps remaining, Petrov got another spot, passing McElrea for sixth.

When they crossed the line to start Lap 21, the gap between the front two drivers was down to 0.5 seconds, the gap getting visibly smaller as the race wound down.

On Lap 21, Petrov moved into the top five, getting around Simpson in Turn 1.

Gold kept the pressure on Rasmussen but couldn’t get close enough to attempt a pass for the lead.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Race #3 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development LAP 25
2 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing -0.6399
3 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport -1.7759
4 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA -3.7063
5 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport -10.3821
6 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing -11.798
7 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing -13.0934
8 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing -14.5481
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -18.3635
10 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -28.0735
11 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport -29.3271
12 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -30.0439
13 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports DNF – Mechanical

Exciting 400th USF2000 race ends with DEForce Racing’s Kiko Porto in victory lane

Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Dan Andersen gave the command to start the 400th Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race at 9:35 am on Saturday.

After two pace laps, the front row of Sundaramoorthy and Brooks brought the field under the green flag to get the 20 lap USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires underway.

For the second straight Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires race, the first lap was interrupted by a caution. The incident started with Nolan Siegel, Myles Rowe, and Dylan Christie, who started seventh, ninth, and tenth, also involved Simon Sikes, Grant Palmer, and Bijoy Garg.

Siegel, Sikes, and Palmer were able to make it back to pit road with only Siegel continuing.

The running order as the field came back to green to start Lap 6. The running order was: Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Pierson, Porto, Green, Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), and Siegel were the cars still running. Sikes, Palmer, Rowe, Christie, and Garg were all retired due to contact.

Brooks got a great start and was able to draft by Sundaramoorthy before they got to Turn 1. Behind the two leaders, Porto was able to get around Pierson for the final spot on the podium.

On Lap 7, Porto gained another spot, moving to second and taking off after the leader. Further back, Kohlbecker lost places to his Cape Motorsports teammates Nepveu and d’Orlando.

On Lap 8, Porto took the lead, with the No. 12 and No. 44 going side-by-side through Turn 7, 8, and 9 before the Brazilian took the lead in Turn 10.

Brooks was right on the gearbox of Porto as they began Lap 9, and Sundaramoorthy joined the two in a three-wide battle for the lead. All three drivers gave each other room, with Porto and Brooks holding their spots. Sundaramoorthy wasn’t so lucky, losing the final spot on the podium to his Pabst Racing teammate Pierson.

With seven laps remaining, Porto’s lead over Brooks was 0.8816 seconds remaining, but it was still anybody’s race. The top eight drivers were separated by less than five seconds.

Over the next three laps, Brooks had cut the lead to 0.6463 seconds remaining. Further back in the field, Lee moved into the top ten, getting around Evans with four laps remaining.

Brooks took two more tenths of a second out of Porto’s lead over the next two laps, getting the white flag with a 0.4-second deficit. The points leader couldn’t quite get close enough to make a move on the leader, and Porto was the first under the 400th twin checkered flag.

Since 1990, the USF2000 series has provided race fans with plenty of excitement, and the 400th race was no different.

The top two positions didn’t change hands on the final lap of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, but the battle for the last step on the podium was epic.

Sundaramoorthy made a great outside pass of Pierson in Turn 1 to grab third. The battling by the Pabst Racing teammates allowed d’Orlando to catch them. The Cape Motorsports driver made a brave move around both drivers in Turn 10, 11 and 12, to stand on the USF2000 podium for the seventh time in his career.

USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Race #3 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 20 laps
2 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -0.4525
3 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -4.8539
4 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing -5.0368
5 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -6.1274
6 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports -7.8244
7 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing -8.3788
8 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -8.7779
9 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport -9.1572
10 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -13.154
11 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development -13.8597
12 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing -14.329
13 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -15.004
14 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing -15.8896
15 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing -16.0406
16 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -18.171
17 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development -21.3667
18 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -24.2383
19 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -24.8091
20 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -24.9264
21 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport – 5 laps
22 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -18 laps
23 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport -18 laps
24 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -19 laps
25 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -19 laps
26 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development -19 laps
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