Archives for 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Coverage

Indy Lights – Race #1 – Kirkwood continues winning, ties Greg Moore, almost clinches title

Race #1 winner Kyle Kirkwood is congratulated by his Andretti Autosport crew and long-time Andretti Indy Lights supporter Bob Stellrecht Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

A dominant flag-to-flag victory by Andretti Autosport rookie Kyle Kirkwood, his tenth of the 2021 Indy Lights season, leaves the two-time Road To Indy champion on the verge of his third straight scholarship and tied with a legend.

If Kirkwood wins again on Sunday, he will surpass the season win record of ten, set by Greg Moore in 1995.

Kirkwood converted his 18th Road To Indy pole into his 31st Road To Indy win in 49 starts, an unreal win percentage of 63.3%.

“First of all, a huge thanks to all the fans who came out today,” said the 22-year-old. “It’s so nice to see so many supporters for the Road to Indy! What a fantastic race for the Andretti crew and for me; we couldn’t have asked for anything better. We did everything we needed to do; everything’s gone to plan. It’s been so much work to get to this point, so much dedication – this is one big step closer to winning the championship, so I’m ecstatic right now.”

The Jupiter, Fla. native, has now won all eight of his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts, along with 12 straight/13 overall in American junior open-wheel action at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kirkwood heads to Sunday’s 20th and final Indy Lights race with a 22 point lead and “that” close to locking down the $1,289,425 scholarship.

Kirkwood’s trip to victory lane is Andretti Autosport’s eighth straight and tenth overall win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Micahel Andretti-owned team has now won 69 Indy Lights races, moving them to within five of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the top of the all-time list.

HMD Motorsports veteran David Malukas came home in second place, the Chicagoan’s series-best 15th podium finish, keeping his slim championship hopes alive until Sunday.

Without push-to-pass, I just tried working the bars to try to keep up the best I could, said the just-turned 20-year-old. “I was pushing like crazy, giving it everything I could to try and end this on a high note. I was hitting dust left and right, but he (Kirkwood) never let off. It’s not over until tomorrow but it seems like it’s all but over. When he started pulling away, so much went through my head, everything from this season. Just the fact that we’re sad because we didn’t get the championship, after everything that happened in 2019, shows how far we’ve come. We’ve worked so hard and I’m very grateful.”

Joining the championship contenders on the podium was Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport teammate Robert Megennis. The Fordham University student used a solid first lap to get to the final podium position and some stellar defending to hold off the third Andretti Autosport teammate in the top four, Danial Frost.

“We had really good pace that race – if I hadn’t driven off the track, I think I could have pressured David,” said Malukas after his ninth career Indy Lights podium. “It would have been tough to get by without push-to-pass, but I could have put up more of a fight. It was the best race pace we’ve had all year, so I’m super happy. I know we can do it again tomorrow, and even better.”

TSO Ladder Note: The 50 extra horsepower push-to-pass system was unavailable to the drivers because the finale is a stand-alone event without the additional technology brought to the table by the INDYCAR timing and scoring staff.

For the penultimate Indy Lights race promoted by Andersen Promotions, the command to fire the turbocharged AER 2.0L engines came from Dan Andersen.

After two laps behind the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, the front row of Kirkwood and Malukas brought the field to the green flag on the front straight of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kirkwood, in the Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club Dallara, sponsored No. 28, got an average start, while Malukas, in the HMD Trucking supported No. 79, got a good jump.

The two drivers arrived at the Cooper Tire Bridge and Turn 1 side-by-side, but with the inside line, Kirkwood had the advantage, grabbing the lead at the exit of the first turn.

Said Kirkwood about that first turn:

“David was ahead of me before we started rolling and held that into Turn One, but I think he thought the better of it and gave me the inside line – though I was going to charge him regardless. If we’d had push-to-pass, he probably would have been knocking on the door even more, but we were so consistent. We just have to go do the same thing tomorrow.”

Malukas, thinking he might have jumped the start and worried about a penalty, said the following:

“I tried to anticipate the start but then hesitated because I wasn’t sure if it had been too much of a jump, so I thought it was only fair to give him the inside line.”

David Malukas in the HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79 edges ahead of the Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club Dallara sponsored No. 28 of Kyle Kirkwood at the beginning of Indy Lights Race #1 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Behind the front row, things got bogged down, with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport rookie Devlin DeFrancesco running into the back of fellow rookie Benjamin Pedersen.

Pedersen told TSO Ladder that he suffered damage in the contact, falling from his fifth starting spot to ninth.

After the race, race control handed Devlin DeFrancesco in the PowerTap sponsored No. 17 a five-second penalty for an improper start procedure, dropping him to ninth place.

Sting Ray Robb took advantage of the chaos, moving from his seventh starting spot to fourth.

After one lap, Kirkwood’s lead over Malukas was 0.6 seconds, behind the front two, the running order was Megennis, Robb, Frost, Linus Lundqvist (Global Racing Group w/HMD), Manuel Sulaiman (HMD Motorsports), DeFrancesco, Pedersen, Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing/AS Promotions), Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Hollinger Racing) and Christian Bogle (Carlin).

Unlike at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Kirkwood was not pulling away from Malukas, with the gap upfront at one second after five of the 30 laps.

On Lap 5, Frost, who lost two spots at the start, moved back to fourth place after getting by Robb. The Singaporean driver had also set the quickest lap of the race to that point.

“We started third in Race 1,” explained Frost, who moved to within 12 points of Pedersen in fourth place in the championship. “It seemed like we were going to do pretty well and contend for at least a podium. It looked like [David] Malukas jumped the start, which concertina effect and messed up our first few laps. We dropped a few places back, but we could reel in some places to finish fourth.

“It looked like our pace was really good, definitely good enough to win the race. I’m quite happy with my overall driving, but not quite with how the start went. We will review it and try to figure out a better way for tomorrow. We should definitely be able to finish on the podium tomorrow. I think today was just a hiccup. We were in the right position with our pace and will look at it for tomorrow.”

Kirkwood began to stretch the lead over the next ten laps, but Frost continued to be the fastest driver, quickly catching Megennis, pressuring his teammate for the final spot on the podium.

At the halfway point of the race, Kirkwood’s lead over Malukas was a comfortable 2.9 seconds. Behind the front two, Megennis was facing pressure from his teammate Frost.

The best battle on the track was for sixth place, with Lundqvist holding off Sulaiman, DeFrancesco, and Pedersen running nose-to-tail.

Kirkwood’s lead was up to four seconds with ten laps to go. The 22-year-old championship leader was turning laps two and three-tenths of a second quicker than Malukas.

Kirkwood turned his quickest lap of the race to that point with five laps to go, growing his lead to 6.1 seconds.

Kirkwood’s lead remained steady over the final five laps, with the battles behind the leader settling down as the 30 lap race concluded.

VP Racing Fuels Grand Prix Of Mid-Ohio Presented By Cooper Tires Race #1 results

RANK NO. NAME TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 30 LAPS
2 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports -6.4367
3 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -9.9283
4 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport -12.3174
5 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing -22.536
6 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports -29.4496
7 59 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports -30.6398
8 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports -32.317
9 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport -36.0008
10 51 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Hollinger Racing -40.0733
11 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing -42.1848
12 7 Christian Bogle Carlin -49.0612

2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points standings headed to the final race of the year

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL
1 Kyle Kirkwood – r Andretti Autosport 520
2 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 498
3 Linus Lundqvist – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 418
4 Benjamin Pedersen – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 335
5 Danial Frost – r Andretti Autosport 323
6 Devlin DeFrancesco – r Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 306
7 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 307
8 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 236
9 Alex Peroni – r Carlin 228
10 Sting Ray Robb – r Juncos Hollinger Racing 235
11 Christian Bogle – r Carlin 216
12 Antonio Serravalle – r Pserra Racing 167
13 Nikita Lastochkin – r HMD Motorsports 123
14 Rasmus Lindh – r Juncos Hollinger Racing 68
15 Manuel Sulaiman – r HMD Motorsports 65

The remainder of the weekend Indy Lights schedule is as follows:

Sunday, October 3

  • 8:45am – 9:15am – Indy Lights Qualifying #2
  • noon – 12:50pm – Indy Lights Race #2

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

Qualifying #1 – USF2000 – d’Orlando grabs pole in tight qual session

Michael d’Orlando and the DB Collaborative/Focused Project Mgmt. sponsored No. 18 won twice on July 4 weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Cape Motorsports veteran, Michael d’Orlando, needs all 66 points on offer to have an opportunity to erase a 49 points gap to points leader Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing).

The 19-year-old from Hartsdale, NY, turned a lap of 80.1824 seconds, breaking a nine-year-old track record set by another Cape Motorsports driver, Matthew Brabham, in 2012.

The pole is d’Orlando’s fourth of the season and his third in a row.

The pole is the 29th at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Cape Motorsports.

Starting on the outside of d’Orlando, who also turned a lap below the track record, is Pabst Racing veteran Yuven Sundaramoorthy.

Hyperco Rookie Of The Year candidate Jace Denmark will start inside the second row beside DEForce Racing veteran Prescott Campbell.

Championship leader Kiko Porto will start on the outside of row three.

The top ten were all within a half-second of pole winner d’Orlando.

After an early morning practice, the 22 USF2000 entries had 155-minutes to prepare for the penultimate qualifying session.

Pabst Racing rookie Jace Denmark led the first practice, but the top four drivers were within a tenth-of-a second, making a mistake-free lap paramount to a good starting spot.

Early in the session, Sundaramoorthy was the quickest driver, but with 11-minutes remaining in the 20-minute session, d’Orlando, who needs every point he can get, went to the provisional pole.

d’Orlando’s lap of 80.7415 seconds led the way at the halfway point of the session, but once again, things were close, with Denmark, Campbell, Siegel, and Sundaramoorthy all within a tenth-of-a-second of the Cape Motorsports veteran.

Championship leader Porto was the seventh quickest driver at the halfway point of qualifying for Race #1.

Many drivers came to pit road for a fresh set of Cooper Tire slicks and adjustments before returning to the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course to try and improve on the best lap time.

The top five remained static for the next five minutes, with Sundaramoorthy improving on his best lap, going to four-hundredths of a second of d’Orlando with five minutes remaining.

On his next lap, the Pabst Racing veteran went even quicker on his seventh lap of qualifying, getting to within a quarter second of the nine-year-old track record.

Porto spent most of the session floating around tenth before jumping up to second with three minutes remaining, but positions in the top ten changed as each driver crossed the timing line.

With one minute remaining in qualifying, Matthew Brabham’s nine-year-old USF2000 track record fell when a driver the series champion is coaching, d’Orlando, turned a lap below the 80.250-second track record set in August 2012.

Sundaramoorthy, who was looking for his fourth pole of the season, also went below the track record, with a lap that was only 0.0618 seconds off d’Orlando.

Championship note: If d’Orlando outscores Porto by 17 points in Race #1, the championship will be decided on Sunday. If Porto is within 16 points of d’Orlando in Race #1, the Brazilian gets the $401,305 scholarship.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by VP Stay Frosty Qualifying #1

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE
1 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:20.1824 ——
2 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:20.2442 0.0618
3 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:20.2845 0.1021
4 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:20.3839 0.2015
5 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:20.4775 0.2951
6 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:20.5068 0.3244
7 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:20.5199 0.3375
8 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:20.5645 0.3821
9 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:20.6546 0.4722
10 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:20.6576 0.4752
11 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:20.7136 0.5312
12 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:20.9013 0.7189
13 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:20.9648 0.7824
14 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:21.1818 0.9994
15 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:21.2432 1.0608
16 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.3509 1.1685
17 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 1:21.4259 1.2435
18 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.4974 1.3150
19 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:21.5977 1.4153
20 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:21.7585 1.5761
21 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:22.2609 2.0785
22 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:22.3057 2.1233

The remainder of the USF2000 weekend schedule is as follows

Saturday, October 2

  • 3:50pm – 4:30pm – USF2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
  • 11am – 11:40am – USF2000 Race #2

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

Qualifying #1 – Indy Pro 2000 – Petrov grabs first pole of the season

The Road To Success/Bell/226ers, Exclusive Autosport sponsored No. 42 of Artem Petrov on track at New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

After starting on the outside of the front row five times in 2021, Exclusive Autosport veteran Artem Petrov finally got the pole he’s been gunning for in the first 16 races.

It’s Petrov’s second career Indy Pro 2000 pole and the ninth series pole for Exclusive Autosport.

Only six-tenths of a second covered the first eight drivers, with the two championship contenders Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) starting from the second and third spots.

Newcomer Christian Brooks, who is making the step up to Indy Pro 2000 after spending the first 16 races of the season in USF2000 with Exclusive Autosport, ended up an impressive fifth a day after he turned 21-years-old.

Qualifying for VP Racing Lubricants got underway at 10:20 am, with 20 minutes of green running on offer for the dozen drivers.

Like their big brothers, Indy Lights, the red flag came out while drivers were on their out laps when the No. 3 of James Roe came to a stop in the gravel on the outside of the highspeed left-hand Turn 1.

The Irishman got out of the car, and the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team quickly got the Turn 3 Motorsport car cleared and behind the wall, with the green flag came back out with 17-minutes of time remaining.

After turning the quickest lap early in the session, McElrea came to pit road for adjustments.

His quick lap didn’t last long as drivers continued to get faster as their Cooper Tires got up to the optimal operating temperature.

In the two minutes before the halfway point of the 20 minutes of green flag qualifying, Gold, Petrov, and Rasmussen all held the provisional pole.

At the halfway point of the session, the JHDD, CSU|One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 of Rasmussen held the provisional pole over Eves by a super-slim eight-hundredths of a second.

The Dane, Rasmussen, remained on the provisional pole for the next five minutes before Petrov, who led Friday’s practice, jumped to the provisional pole.

The Russian driver continued to get quicker, lowing the provisional time to 66.4773 seconds with three minutes remaining in the penultimate qualifying session of the season.

It was a good thing that Petrov went even quicker on his next lap, as Rasmussen took a run at the top spot on his 11th lap of the session.

Nobody could go quicker than Petrov in the final two minutes.

VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying #1 results

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE
1 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:16.4411 ——
2 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:16.5952 -0.1541
3 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:16.6473 -0.2062
4 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:16.6977 -0.2566
5 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:16.8173 -0.3762
6 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:16.8861 -0.445
7 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:16.9628 -0.5217
8 22 Enaam Ahmed Juncos Racing 1:17.0334 -0.5923
9 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.2533 -0.8122
10 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:17.2808 -0.8397
11 19 Jordan Missig Pabst Racing 1:17.9912 -1.5501
12 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport No Time

The remainder of the Indy Pro 2000 weekend schedule is as follows:

Saturday, October 2

  • 2:05pm – 2:50pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 9:30am – 10am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2
  • 1:10pm – 2pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

 


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

Qualifying #1 – Indy Lights – Kirkwood grabs 7th pole of the season – closer to championship

Kyle Kirkwood, pole sitter for VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Race #1 navigates The Keyhole at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club sponsored No. 28 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club Dallara sponsored No. 28 of Kyle Kirkwood will start from the pole for the seventh time in 2021. Kirkwood now has 18 career Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires poles.

Kirkwood earns the valuable bonus point for pole and takes a 16-point lead into this afternoon’s race.

Slotting in beside the Andretti Autosport rookie is his championship rival, HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas. It will be the seventh time the twosome have started on the front row together this year.

Starting on the second row are Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport teammates Danial Frost and Robert Megennis.

The one dozen IL-15s taking part in the VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires finale got the green flag for the penultimate qualifying session of the season at 9:25 am. The ambient temperature was still a cool 57F when the HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group squad led the cars onto the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.

The red flag quickly came out as drivers were on their out laps after Carlin rookie Christian Bogle spun at the exit of Turn 9. The Pelican Energy sponsored No. 7 didn’t make contact but did get high-sided on the side of the track. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team pulled him back onto the racing surface, restarted his AER 2.0L turbocharged engine, and he was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

The green flag came back out with 32-minutes remaining, and the drivers quickly got back to work.

The early leader was Malukas, while Kirkwood sat on pit road preserving his limited Cooper Tire slicks.

Frost, a pole winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the last time the Indy Lights series visited central Ohio, held the provisional pole with 27-minutes remaining, and Kirkwood still sitting on pit road.

The Jupiter, Fla driver Kirkwood finally got on track with 25 of the 40 minutes remaining.

Over the next five minutes, Frost was joined by DeFrancesco, Megennis, Malukas, and Pedersen as provisional pole sitters.

Kirkwood took only five laps to take the provisional pole as the first driver to turn a sub-72 second lap. At the halfway point of qualifying, he was joined in the top five by Pedersen, Frost, DeFrancesco, and Megennis. The best the championship contender Malukas could do was seventh, almost a full second behind Kirkwood.

Before the halfway point of qualifying, drivers started to come to the pit road for fresh rubber and adjustments.

Kirkwood remained on track, lowering the provisional pole lap on his eighth lap of qualifying with a lap that was four-tenths of a second quicker than DeFrancesco. The 22-year-old came to pit lane, putting fresh Coopers on the No. 28.

The track remained reasonably quiet for ten minutes while teams made adjustments before sending their drivers back out on the track for one more run to knock Kirkwood from the pole.

The first two drivers to improve their lap times in the final five minutes were Andretti Autosport teammates. Frost and Megennis.

With just over four minutes remaining, Malukas jumped from seventh to the provisional pole with a lap of 71.5255 seconds on his 18th lap of the 40-minute session.

Only 60 seconds later, Kirkwood went almost three-tenths of a second quicker than his rival to return to the provisional pole with 150-seconds remaining.

With 90-seconds remaining, Sting Ray Robb set the third quickest lap of the session, but when the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion got to Turn 1, he spun at the exit the fast left-hander, coming to a stop at driver’s left.

The red flag came out, ending the session and costing the Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie his quickest lap, dropping him to seventh on the grid for this afternoon’s race.

VP Racing Fuels Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying #1 results

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE
1 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:11.2100 ——
2 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:11.5255 -0.3155
3 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:11.6681 -0.4581
4 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:11.7619 -0.5519
5 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:11.8753 -0.6653
6 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:11.8919 -0.6819
7 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing 1:11.9960 -0.786
8 59 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 1:12.2867 -1.0767
9 51 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Hollinger Racing 1:12.3260 -1.116
10 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:13.0950 -1.885
11 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:13.1319 -1.9219
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:13.2607 -2.0507

The remainder of the Indy Lights weekend schedule is as follows

Saturday, October 2

  • 1pm – 1:50pm – Indy Lights Race #1

Saturday, October 3

  • 8:45am – 9:15am – Indy Lights Qualifying #2
  • noon – 12:50pm – Indy Lights Race #2

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

Practice #1 – USF2000 – Rookie Jace Denmark leads a close practice

The Metal Works Custom Fabrication sponsored No. 23 of Jace Denmark Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the first time this season, Pabst Racing rookie Jace Denmark, who is in a dogfight for the Hyperco Rookie of the Year honors, set the quickest lap during Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice.

However, it was close throughout the field, with four of the 22 drivers within a tenth-of-a-second of Denmark, eight of the 22 drivers within a half-second, and 16 within one second.

Within a tenth of a second of Denmark were Josh Green, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, and championship contender d’Orlando. The championship leader Kiko Porto had the sixth quickest practice time.

The 17-year-old Denmark’s best lap of 81.1154 seconds was quicker than the race track record of 81.2979 seconds, set by Kyle Kirkwood in 2018.

Saturday’s VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires got underway at 8:40 am, with the sun still rising over The Carousel at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The blue skies were dotted with puffy white clouds, and the temperature was struggling to reach 50F.

The 22-entries quickly got to work on the green track, which has not held a four-wheeled race event since Independence Day Weekend’s Road To Indy/INDYCAR event.

With three fresh sets and one carryover set of Cooper Tire slicks available for the one practice, two qualifying sessions, and pair of races, the teams stayed on their carryover set for the half-hour practice.

A pair of drivers named Josh – Cape Motorsports’ Green and Pabst Racing’s Pierson – were the early leaders in the session, but with the cool temperatures, times continued to improve as the Cooper Tire slicks got up to temperature.

Also near the top of the timing screens in the first half of the session were the two championship contenders, Porto and d’Orlando.

At the halfway point of the session, Hyperco Rookie Of The Year Contender Denmark, with a lap time of 81.8601 seconds, was the quickest pilot in the field. Alos in the top ten were Green, Siegel, Sundaramoorthy, Porto, d’Orlando, Pierson, Campbell, and Stamer.

Somewhat surprisingly, lap times were below what the drivers were running during practice in July.

d’Orlando, who needs max points to have a shot at the $401,305 scholarship, was the quickest driver with ten minutes remaining, over two-tenths of a second clear of Porto.

With ten minutes remaining in practice, the top eight were separated by only three-tenths of a second.

The 22 drivers completed 418 laps in the 30-minute practice that was green for the entirety.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by VP Stay Frosty Practice #1 results

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:21.1154 —— 21
2 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.1486 0.0332 18
3 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:21.1777 0.0623 21
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:21.2097 0.0943 20
5 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:21.2774 0.1620 21
6 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:21.2882 0.1728 19
7 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:21.3020 0.1866 20
8 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:21.3827 0.2673 20
9 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:21.4919 0.3765 18
10 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:21.7491 0.6337 18
11 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.7759 0.6605 19
12 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:21.8257 0.7103 20
13 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.8754 0.7600 21
14 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:21.9336 0.8182 20
15 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:21.9444 0.8290 20
16 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:22.0824 0.9670 18
17 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.2404 1.1250 20
18 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:22.4032 1.2878 14
19 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:22.6353 1.5199 18
20 19 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 1:22.6463 1.5309 18
21 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:23.2987 2.1833 17
22 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:23.6572 2.5418 17

The remainder of the USF2000 weekend schedule is as follows

Saturday, October 2

  • 11:45am – 12:15pm – USF2000 Qualifying #2
  • 3:50pm – 4:30pm – USF2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
  • 11am – 11:40am – USF2000 Race #2

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

Practice #1 – Indy Pro 2000 – Petrov leads the way, championship contenders 3rd &

The Road To Success/Bell/226ers, Exclusive Autosport sponsored No. 42 of Artem Petrov on track at New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Artem Petrov led an Indy Pro 2000 practice session on a natural terrain road course for the fourth time this season and will look to convert his practice pace into his first pole of the season. The Exclusive Autosport veteran was the quickest driver during the season’s final Indy Pro 2000 practice session, turning a lap of 77.7372 seconds.

Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Reece Gold was a slim hundredth of a second behind Petrov and will look to capture his series-best sixth pole tomorrow morning.

Christian Rasmussen, a Jay Howard Driver Development rookie, and championship leader had the third quickest time and was one of six drivers within a half-second of Petrov.

The second championship contender, Petrov’s Exclusive Autosport teammate Braden Eves ended up ninth on the timesheets.

The lone 30-minute practice in preparation for the championship-deciding VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader got underway at 4 pm. The bright but lowering October sun cast long shadows across the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course, with the temperature falling into the upper 60s.

Outside of one red flag, the session ran cleanly, with the dozen entries completing 191 circuits of the undulating road course.

The only red flag was for Christian Brooks, who is making the step-up from USF2000 to Indy Pro 2000 this weekend. His Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44 came to a stop in the gravel trap on the driver’s left at the exit of Turn 9. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to get him back on track, and he could continue.

Gold was the quickest of the bunch when the red flag came out, with Petrov, McElrea, Abel, and Rasmussen rounding out the top five.

VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires practice #1

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:17.7372 —— 15
2 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:17.7525 0.0153 17
3 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.9417 0.2045 15
4 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:18.1307 0.3935 16
5 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.2068 0.4696 17
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:18.2136 0.4764 17
7 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:18.4580 0.7208 16
8 22 Enaam Ahmed Juncos Racing 1:18.4673 0.7301 17
9 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:18.5150 0.7778 15
10 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:18.8583 1.1211 14
11 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:19.0725 1.3353 16
12 19 Jordan Missig Pabst Racing 1:19.5791 1.8419 16

If haven’t already, you can read our finale preview here –>

Preview – Indy Pro 2000 – VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires

 

The remainder of the Indy Pro 2000 schedule is as follows:

Saturday, October 2

  • 10:20am – 10:50am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #1
  • 2:05pm – 2:50pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 9:30am – 10am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2
  • 1:10pm – 2pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

 


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

Practice #1 – Indy Lights – Kirkwood’s Mid-O dominance continues

The Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club sponsored No. 28 of Kyle Kirkwood navigates “The Corkscrew” at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Championship leader Kyle Kirkwood, who has won all of his Road To Indy appearances at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, led the final Indy Lights practice session of the 2021 season, turning a lap timed at 72.2884 seconds.
The 22-year-old also led the lone practice session before winning both races at the same circuit in July.
The second championship contender, HMD Motorsports veteran David Malukas had the fifth quickest lap, over six-tenths of a second behind Kirkwood.
The Juncos Hollinger Racing duo of Sting Ray Robb and Rasmus Lindh was a welcome addition to the pointy end of the grid during practice, with the pair within three-tenths of a second of the leader.
Also in the top five was Global Racing Group w/HMD rookie Benjamin Pedersen, who is riding a streak of six straight top-five finishes.
The 45-minutes of practice in preparation for the VP Racing Fuels Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires got the green flag at 3 pm. There were zero clouds in the sky, and the ambient temperature was a comfortable 70F.
Each entry received four sets of sticker Cooper Tire slicks for the weekend and one carryover set from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, to be utilized during the first practice session.
The majority of the drivers spent all but a few laps of the session on the carryover tires, moving to slicks to end the session.
It didn’t take long for the championship contenders Kirkwood and Malukas to move to the top of the timing screens, with the Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club Dallara No. 28 of Kirkwood leading Malukas, Robb, Pederson, and Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) in the top five.
The Sekady Capital/Goodheart-Firehouse Animal Centers sponsored No. 2 of Robb was a welcome addition to the pointy end of the grid for the entire 45-minute practice.
Late in the session, the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion was joined by his Juncos Hollinger Racing teammate Lindh near the top of the timing screens.
The 12 drivers completed 276 circuits of the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course.

VP Racing Fuels Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires  practice #1 results 

RANK NO. NAME TEAM FAST TIME DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:12.2884 —— 23
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing 1:12.4807 0.1923 24
3 51 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Hollinger Racing 1:12.6006 0.3122 24
4 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:12.7907 0.5023 22
5 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:12.9037 0.6153 24
6 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:12.9169 0.6285 25
7 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:13.1207 0.8323 26
8 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:13.1474 0.8590 25
9 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:13.2307 0.9423 24
10 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:13.4633 1.1749 19
11 59 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 1:13.6704 1.3820 24
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:13.8133 1.5249 16

In case you missed our finale preview, you can read it here –>

Preview – Indy Lights – VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires

The remainder of the weekend’s Indy Lights schedule is as follows:

Saturday, October 2

  • 9:25am – 10:05am – Indy Lights Qualifying #1
  • 1pm – 1:50pm – Indy Lights Race #1

Saturday, October 3

  • 8:45am – 9:15am – Indy Lights Qualifying #2
  • noon – 12:50pm – Indy Lights Race #2

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

Preview – USF2000 – VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires

A full field of USF2000 machines, led by championship contenders Kiko Porto and Michael d’Orlando stream in front of the Cooper Tires Tower to start a race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

With Kiko Porto on the brink of winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the next big Brazilian star is on their way to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

With Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan winding down their outstanding careers, the 18-year-old from Recife, Brazil, is poised to grab the torch from the legends.

Is USF2000 championship leader Kiko Porto the next great Brazilian NTT INDYCAR SERIES star? Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

When the series left the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Independence day, DEForce Racing sophomore Porto’s lead was a slim 19 points; however, a stellar weekend at the New Jersey Motorsports Park where he outscored chaser Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) by 30 points means his lead is an almost insurmountable 49 points.

The difference between the two drivers is their consistency and ability to avoid a disastrous result, or as we like to call it, avoiding the single digits.

Porto has not finished below 10th in the first 16 races of the season, meaning the lowest point total he’s scored in a single race is 11. Conversely, d’Orlando has finished outside the top ten on three occasions, scoring only six points combined in those three races.

USF2000 Tale Of The Tape

KIKO PORTO MICHAEL D’ORLANDO
Recife, Brazil Hometown Hartsdale, NY
18 Age 19
5’6″ Height 6’3″
119lbs Weight 150lbs
368 Points 319
4 Wins 3
6 Poles 3
8 Podiums 7
13 Top Fives 12
16 Top Tens 13
9 Races Led 5
113 Laps Led 113
100% % Laps Completed 95.4%
3.8 Average Finish 6.4
3.7 Average Start 4.7
5.0 Fastest Lap Avg. 7.9

One thing that d’Orlando has going for him is his past results on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course. In nine previous USF2000 starts, the Cape Motorsports driver has three wins, six podiums an average finish of 3.3.

Over those same nine races, Porto has one win, two podiums, and an average finish of 8.0.

The championship, Hyperco Rookie Of The Year, and Team Championships (see below for the latter pair) are the main prizes, but finishing strong and setting the tone for next season can be just as important.

Much like fellow veteran d’Orlando, Pabst Racing’s Yuven Sundaramoorthy lacked the consistency to challenge for the championship, but that shouldn’t take away from an outstanding season that saw the University of Wisconsin freshman prove he’s ready for the next step on the Road To Indy.

The 18-year-old’s three wins and four poles trail only Porto, and his eight podiums equal the series-best with the points leader.

Sundaramoorthy’s Pabst Racing teammate has done everything but win a race during his sophomore season of USF2000 action. Still only 15-years-old, the Oregonian is one of six drivers to complete every lap, has stood on five podiums, and could still grab third in the championship with a good weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Josh Green, a Team USA Scholarship winner and Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore, has had a consistent season and is coming off his first podium of the season at the New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Championship leader Porto’s DEForce Racing teammates, Prescott Campbell and Nolan Siegel, each have one win and three podiums this season and are ready to make a move up the ladder.

2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Kiko Porto 368
2 Michael d’Orlando 319 -49
3 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 295 -73
4 Josh Pierson 266 -102
5 Christian Brooks 257 -111
6 Josh Green 229 -158
7 Spike Kohlbecker – r 210 -158
8 Jace Denmark – r 203 -165
9 Prescott Campbell 197 -171
10 Thomas Nepveu – r 192 -176
11 Nolan Siegel 187 -181
12 Billy Frazer – r 167 -201
13 Simon Sikes 136 -232
14 Myles Rowe – r 119 -249
15 Matthew Round-Garrido 116 -252
16 Dylan Christie – r 111 -257
17 Ely Navarro – r 94 -274
18 Peter Vodanovich – r 63 -305
19 Jackson Lee – r 61 -307
20 Erik Evans – r 54 -314
21 Evan Stamer – r 53 -315
22 Christian Weir – r 44 -324
23 Bijoy Garg 43 -325
24 Michael Myers 42 -326
25 Trey Burke – r 41 -327
26 Grant Palmer – r 38 -330
27 Kent Vaccaro – r 38 -330
28 Andre Castro – r 27 -341
29 Nathan Byrd – r 10 -358
30 Chase Hyland – r 3 -365

Interesting USF2000 finale note: The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the fifth different venue to play host to the USF2000 finale in the past five seasons, joining St. Petersburg Street Course (2020), WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (2019), Portland International Raceway (2018), and Watkins Glen International (2017). If you go back to 2010 and the rebirth of the series, only WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has hosted multiple finales (2015, 2016, and 2017). Also hosting a single finale was Road Atlanta (2010), Baltimore Street Circuit (2011), Virginia International Raceway (2012), Houston Reliant Park (2013), and Sonoma Raceway (2014).


Hyperco Rookie Of The Year

The championship battle between the veterans at the top of the points table isn’t the only title that will conclude on Sunday. Four drivers still have a chance to take home the prize for the top newcomer, with the leading trio separated by only 18 points.

Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports rookie Spike Kohlbecker has accomplished what every rookie should; the 18-year-old has been consistent and clean all season long and brings a seven-point lead to the final pair of races.

The native of St. Louis, Mo., is one of six drivers to complete all 349 laps contested so far this season and has not finished worse than 11th in the first 16 races of the season.

Pabst Racing rookie Jace Denmark is riding a string of ten straight top-ten finishes to move to within seven points of Kohlbecker as the best newcomer.

The 17-year-old is coming off his best event of the year at the New Jersey Motorsports Park and has outscored Kohlbecker by 22 points in the last two events at NJMP and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Denmark has also completed all 349 laps contested in 2021.

Montreal, Canada’s Thomas Nepveu trails Kohlbecker by 18 points and will need to rebound from disappointing results in the Garden State last time out.

The 17-year-old Cape Motorsports newcomer is one of two rookies to win this year, standing on the top step of the podium at Road America.

Cape Motorsports rookie Thomas Nepveu celebrates his USF2000 victory at Road America in June Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Eighteen-year-old Billy Frazer will need some bad luck to befall his competitors to erase the 43 point deficit that he has to Kohlbecker.

The Kiwi scored the second-most points over the last two events among the rookie drivers and had some success when he visited the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course in July.

The Exclusive Autosport rookie finished a season-best fourth and collected two of his six top tens at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Other rookies we are watching include:

The reigning Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion Ely Navarro is coming off his best race weekend at the New Jersey Motorsports Park and is one of six drivers who complete 100% of the laps contested this season.

Race winner in the wet at New Jersey Motorsports Park Myles Rowe. The Force Indy finally broke through with a good result after showing strong pace all season long.

Trey Burke, a rookie for Joe Dooling Autosports, has continued to get quicker all season and scored his best two results of the season the last time he was in a car. The open-wheel standout is returning to a track for the first time and has a chance to show that his learning curve is continuing at a steep pace.

Christian Weir, at only 14-years-old, made his USF2000 debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Turn 3 Motorsport in July and was impressive in his second event a month later, twice finishing in the top ten at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Weir recently competed in the F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda series at Virginia International Raceway, scoring a podium with Gonella Racing.

Jackson Lee returns to Jay Howard Driver Development after missing the last round of the series. The rookie, an F1600 Championship Series winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, set the fastest lap race in the weekend’s second race.

2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship rookie standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Spike Kohlbecker – r 210
2 Jace Denmark – r 203 -7
3 Thomas Nepveu – r 192 -18
4 Billy Frazer – r 167 -43
5 Myles Rowe – r 119 -91
6 Dylan Christie – r 111 -99
7 Ely Navarro – r 94 -116
8 Peter Vodanovich – r 63 -147
9 Jackson Lee – r 61 -149
10 Erik Evans – r 54 -156
11 Evan Stamer – r 53 -157
12 Christian Weir – r 44 -166
13 Trey Burke – r 41 -169
14 Grant Palmer – r 38 -172
15 Kent Vaccaro – r 38 -172
16 Andre Castro – r 27 -183
17 Nathan Byrd – r 10 -200
18 Chase Hyland – r 3 -207

 


Team bragging rights

Team points are distributed as follows to a teams top two finishers in each race – 1st is 22 points, 2nd is 18 points, 3rd is 15 points, 4th is 12 points, 5th is 10 points, 6th is 8 points, 7th is 6 points, 8th is 4 points, 9th is 2 points, and 10th+ is 1 point.  

DEForce Racing, led by the championship favorite Kiko Porto, is on the cusp of winning their first Road To Indy team championship.

The Angleton, Texas team lead by David and Ernesto Martinez – the D and E in DEForce – leads in the win (six), pole (seven), and podium (tied at 14) categories with the two races remaining at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In addition, the family-run team is the only squad that has had three different drivers win a race.

DEForce Racing team owner David Martinez celebrates Nolan Siegel’s first USF2000 win at the New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The following two teams on the championship table have won a dozen team championships. Pabst Racing, winners of three team championships in a row between 2017 and 2019, are trailing DEForce Racing by 40 points. A further 61 points adrift are last season’s team champions Cape Motorsports, who have won the team crown nine times.

2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship team championship standings

RANK TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 DEForce Racing 384
2 Pabst Racing 344 -40
3 Cape Motorsports 323 -61
4 Exclusive Autosport 238 -146
5 Turn 3 Motorsport 154 -230
6 Legacy Autosport 128 -256
7 Force Indy 101 -283
8 Joe Dooling Autosports 64 -320
9 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 60 -324
10 Michael Myers Racing 52 -332
11 Velocity Racing Development 49 -335
12 Jay Howard Driver Development 45 -339

If DEForce Racing holds on to win their first championship, it will end almost a decade of dominance by Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing, who have won the last nine team titles.

USF2000 team champions

YEAR TEAM
2020 Cape Motorsports
2019 Pabst Racing
2018 Pabst Racing
2017 Pabst Racing
2016 Cape Motorsports
2015 Cape Motorsports
2014 Cape Motorsports
2013 Cape Motorsports
2012 Cape Motorsports
2011 Andretti Autosport
2010 Andretti Autosport
2006 Cape Motorsports
2005 Aiken Racing
2004 Andersen Walko Racing
2003 PR1 Motorsports
2002 Cape Motorsports
2001 Key Motorsport
2000 Cape Motorsports
1999 Primus Racing
1998 Primus Racing

Double the celebration

In 33 seasons of USF2000 competition, the champion has won the season finale on 18 occasions.

The last driver to accomplish that feat was current Indy Lights championship contender Kyle Kirkwood, who won the final race of the season at Portland International Raceway, his 11th series win a row.

In 1990, Vince Puleo won his fourth race of the season on the one-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway, the final race of the USF2000 season.

USF2000 champs that have won the final race of the year

YEAR DRIVER
2018 Kyle Kirkwood
2015 Nico Jamin
2014 Florian Latorre
2010 Sage Karam
2006 J.R. Hildebrand
2005 Jay Howard
2004 Bobby Wilson
2003 Jonathan Bomarito
2002 Bryan Sellers
1999 Dan Wheldon
1998 David Besnard
1996 Steve Knapp
1995 Jeret Schroeder
1993 USAC East Chris Simmons
1992 USAC West Greg Moore
1992 USAC East Chris Simmons
1991 Craig Taylor
1990 Vince Puleo

Current USF2000 team owner Jay Howard won the USF2000 championship along with the final race of the 2005 season Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy


Previously at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

  • Part of the VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented By Cooper Tires, the two races will be the 64th and 65th USF2000 races held at the central Ohio natural terrain road course.
  • There are 23 drivers on the entry list for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by VP Stay Frosty doubleheader.
  • Thirty-eight drivers representing 23 teams have won USF2000 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Past USF2000 race winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2021 Race #3 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports
2021 Race #2 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing
2021 Race #1 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports
2020 Race #6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2020 Race #5 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports
2020 Race #4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports
2020 Race #3 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2020 Race #2 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2020 Race #1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2019 Race #2 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing
2019 Race #1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2018 Race #3 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports
2018 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports
2018 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports
2017 Race #2 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport
2017 Race #1 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports
2016 Race #3 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2016 Race #2 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2016 Race #1 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #3 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #2 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #1 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports
2014 Race #3 Florian Latorre Cape Motorsports
2014 Race #2 Jake Eidson Cape Motorsports
2014 Race #1 RC Enerson Team E Racing
2013 Race #3 Garett Grist Andretti Autosport
2013 Race #2 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports
2013 Race #1 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports
2012 Race #2 Scott Anderson Belardi Auto Racing
2012 Race #1 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports
2011 Race #2 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports
2011 Race #1 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports
2006 Race #4 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports
2006 Race #3 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports
2006 Race #2 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports
2006 Race #1 JR Hildebrand Cape Motorsports
2005 Race #4 Jay Howard Aiken Racing
2005 Race #3 Joey Foster Cape Motorsports
2005 Race #2 Jay Howard Aiken Racing
2005 Race #1 Jay Howard Aiken Racing
2004 Race #4 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing
2004 Race #3 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing
2004 Race #2 Adam Pecorari Andersen Walko Racing
2004 Race #1 Andre Prendeville Andersen Walko Racing
2003 Race #4 Jonathan Bomarito PR1 Motorsports
2003 Race #3 Jonathan Bomarito PR1 Motorsports
2003 Race #2 Westley Barber Cape Motorsports
2003 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Pabst Racing
2002 Race #3 Ross Fonferko Cape Motorsports
2002 Race #2 Bryan Sellers Cape Motorsports
2002 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Pabst Racing
2001 Race #3 Jason LaPoint Richard Morgan Racing
2001 Race #2 Doug Bell Cape Motorsports
2001 Race #1 Tonis Kasemets Tonis Kasemets
1999 Race #2 Jeff Wright Cape Motorsports
1999 Race #1 Dan Wheldon Primus Racing
1998 Race #2 David Besnard Primus Racing
1998 Race #1 David Besnard Primus Racing
1997 Zak Morioka Hayes Motorsports
1996 Steve Knapp Miller Miling/Elite Engines
1995 Race #2 Jeret Schroeder
1995 Race #1 Memo Gidley Cape Motorsports
1993 Chris Simmons SOTARE Racing
  • With 32 victories, 28 pole starts, and 67 podiums, no team comes close to matching Cape Motorsports record at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • The averaging finishing position of the pole sitter is 1.6, and they have won 39 of the 63 previous races.
  • The average finish position of the pole-sitter at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is 3.7, and they have failed to finish the race six times.
  • Only twice in 63 previous races has the winner taken a yellow and checkered flag simultaneously.
  • The closest finish, 0.171 seconds, occurred in 2003 Race #2 when Westley Barber beat Charlie Kimball to the checkered flag.

USF2000 weekend schedule

Saturday, October 2

  • 8:40am – 9:10am – USF2000 Practice #1
  • 11:45am – 12:15pm – USF2000 Qualifying #2
  • 3:50pm – 4:30pm – USF2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
  • 11am – 11:40am – USF2000 Race #2

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

Preview – Indy Pro 2000 – VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires

The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires field gets the green flag at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The battle for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires trophy and the $718,065 scholarship that goes with it comes down to a two-race duel between the last two USF2000 champions, Christian Rasmussen (2020) and Braden Eves (2019).

Oh yeah, the champion also recieves an NTT INDYCAR SERIES test during the off-season, something else for Rasmussen and Eves to keep in the back of their minds.

Exclusive Autosport sophomore Eves, who returned to action from a season-ending incident on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course midway through last season, took the early lead, winning the first race of the season at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and leading the points after six fo the first seven races.

Rookie Rasmussen, with his Indy Pro 2000 rookie team, Jay Howard Driver Development, took control of the championship with a third to first driver in the Freedom 90 at the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval.

The JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 of reigning USF2000 champion Christian Rasmussen on pit road Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The 21-year-old Dane built a 39 point lead as the series headed to World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway.

Twenty-two-year-old Eves held off a charging Rasmussen in the second oval race of the season, outscoring a faltering Rasmussen by 21 points in the last four races.

Indy Pro 2000 Tale-Of-The-Tape

CHRISTIAN RASMUSSEN BRADEN EVES
Copenhagen, Denmark Hometown Gahanna, Ohio
21 Age 22
5′ 11″ Height 5’9″
165lbs Weight 142lbs
392 Points 374
6 Wins 3
2 Poles 2
10 Podiums 8
11 Top Fives 13
14 Top Tens 16
8 Races Led 4
123 Laps Led 126
93.8% % Laps Completed 100%
4.4 Average Finish 3.6
4.1 Average Start 3.8
2.6 Fastest Lap Avg. 5.3

If you are going only on past results at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it will be advantage, Rasmussen.

He has eight wins, five poles and ten podiums in a baker’s dozen starts across F4 United States Championship, USF2000, and Indy Pro 2000 on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Road Course. Rasmussen’s average starting position is 2.2, and his average finishing position is 3.9.

Eves’ record at his home track is more spotty, with one win, two poles, and two top-five finishes in his ten previous starts across the F4 United States Championship, USF2000 Championship, and Indy Pro 2000 Championship.

Braden Eves celebrates a home-track Indy Pro 2000 win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2020 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Interesting note – the two championship contenders have only shared a podium six times in 31 shared Road To Indy races.

Unfortunately for McElrea, his less than ideal start to the season combined with the shorter field in the finale means the best he can do is second place in the championship.

The American-born, Australian-bred citizen of New Zealand was a winner the last time the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires visited central Ohio in July. McElrea’s average finish in nine previous USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is 4.0, and he has won twice, started on the pole three times, and stood on the podium five times.

The Pabst Racing sophomore has been on a tear over the last three events, winning twice, starting on pole three times, standing on five straight podiums, and outscoring the championship contenders by 31 points since July.

McElrea recently moved past Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Reece Gold and Exclusive Autosport sophomore Artem Petrov in the standings and still has them close in his mirrors.

Gold has a series-best five poles and recently won his first race of the year at the New Jersey Motorsports Park.

The highest-scoring driver across the 12 natural terrain road courses, Petrov is a past Indy Pro 2000 race winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and has only finished outside the top five once in seven starts.

The top five points scorers on natural terrain road course in 2021 are:

  1. Artem Petrov – 262 points
  2. Braden Eves – 252 points
  3. Christian Rasmussen – 251 points
  4. Hunter McElrea – 246 points
  5. Reece Gold – 239 points

2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Christian Rasmussen – r 392
2 Braden Eves 374 -18
3 Hunter McElrea 347 -45
4 Reece Gold – r 337 -55
5 Artem Petrov 329 -63
6 Jacob Abel 264 -128
7 Kyffin Simpson – r 230 -162
8 Manuel Sulaiman 214 -178
9 James Roe – r 200 -192
10 Wyatt Brichacek – r 187 -205
11 Jack William Miller – r 180 -212
12 Enaam Ahmed – r 100 -292
13 Colin Kaminsky 91 -301
14 Hunter Yeany – r 79 -313
15 Cameron Shields – r 43 -349
16 Flinn Lazier – r 37 -355
17 Nolan Siegel 26 -366
18 Enzo Fittipaldi – r 20 -372
19 Kory Enders 18 -374

 Hyperco Rookie Of The Year

Championship leader Christian Rasmussen, a Jay Howard Driver Development rookie, has locked up the top newcomer, holding a safe 55 point lead over Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Reece Gold.

The pair that battled for the USF2000 championship last year have proven to be two of the quickest among the entire Indy Pro 2000 field.

Between them, they have seven poles (Gold has five and Rasmussen has two) and the quickest lap of the race in 11 (Rasmussen has eight and Gold has three) of the 16 races.

Other rookie stories we’re watching include:

Enaam Ahmed, who will pilot the No. 22 for Juncos Hollinger Racing, will return to the series after suspending his campaign earlier this season. The 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 Champion started the first seven races with RP Motorsport, finishing in the top five on three occasions.

“I am really happy and surprised to get a last-minute call from Ricardo Juncos to join the team for the final races of the season,” said Ahmed. “I have been out of the car for a while, so I am just going to enjoy the opportunity with no expectations.”

Jack William Miller is coming off his best weekend as an Indy Pro 2000 driver, just missing out on his first podium in a strong showing at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The second-generation racer is no stranger to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, making 16 starts across the F4 United States, USF2000, and Indy Pro 2000 series.

Indy Pro 2000 rookie and second generation racer Jack William Miller is coming off his best race weekend of the 2021 season at New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

“Our goal is to finish the season strong and build some momentum towards 2022,” explained Team Co-Owner Jack Miller. “Our partnership with former NFL Superstar Adam Vinatieri will continue, and we are looking good for next season. We have another intense winter testing program on the horizon, but our goal this weekend is to finish strong.”

Exclusive Autosport veteran Christian Brooks, a race winner in USF2000, will be stepping up to Indy Pro 2000 with the Canadian team for the final races on the calendar. Brooks has made a dozen open-wheel starts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, finishing in the top five on five occasions.

Debuting in the Road To Indy is Jordan Missig, a race winner at the most recent Formula Regional Americas Championship race at Virginia International Raceway.

2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires rookie points standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Christian Rasmussen – r 392
2 Reece Gold – r 337 -55
3 Kyffin Simpson – r 230 -162
4 James Roe – r 200 -192
5 Wyatt Brichacek – r 187 -205
6 Jack William Miller – r 180 -212
7 Enaam Ahmed – r 100 -292
8 Hunter Yeany – r 79 -313
9 Cameron Shields – r 43 -349
10 Flinn Lazier – r 37 -355
11 Enzo Fittipaldi – r 20 -372

 


Team bragging rights

Team points are distributed as follows to a teams top two finishers in each race – 1st is 22 points, 2nd is 18 points, 3rd is 15 points, 4th is 12 points, 5th is 10 points, 6th is 8 points, 7th is 6 points, 8th is 4 points, 9th is 2 points, and 10th+ is 1 point.   

A pair of talented drivers have led Exclusive Autosport to the verge of their first Indy Pro 2000 championship, heading to the season’s final two races with an almost insurmountable 69 point lead over perennial powerhouse Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Jay Howard Driver Development leads the wins column, Juncos Hollinger Racing leads the poles column, but the Canadian team has the advantage in the podiums column.

Despite making 16 fewer starts than Juncos Racing, Exclusive Autosport drivers have stood on the podium three more times than their season-long rival for the team championship.

2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires team championship standings

RANK TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Exclusive Autosport 418
2 Juncos Hollinger Racing 349 -69
3 Jay Howard Driver Development 269 -149
4 Pabst Racing 260 -158
5 Abel Motorsports 180 -238
6 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 105 -313
7 Turn 3 Motorsport 101 -317
8 RP Motorsport 54 -364
9 Velocity Racing Development 40 -378
10 DEForce Racing 39 -379
11 Legacy Autosport 17 -401

If they hold on, Exclusive Autosport will take home their first Indy Pro 2000 championship.

Team owners Michael and Kimberly Duncalfe congratulate Artem Petrov on an Indy Pro 2000 win at the New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

If Juncos Hollinger Racing can pull out a miracle, the Speedway, Ind.-based team will win their sixth team championship overall and the fourth in a row.

Indy Pro 2000 team champions

YEAR TEAM
2020 Juncos Racing
2019 Juncos Racing
2018 Juncos Racing
2017 Team Pelfrey
2016 Team Pelfrey
2015 Juncos Racing
2014 Juncos Racing
2013 Andretti Autosport
2012 Team Pelfrey
2011 Team Pelfrey
2010 Andersen Racing
2009 JDC Motorsports
2008 Andersen Racing
2007 JDC Motorsports
2006 John Walko Racing

 


Double the sparkling grape juice

There have been 22 Indy Pro 2000 champions since 1999, and only six of those have won the season’s final race.

Joey Hand, who won his fourth race of the season in the finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1999, was the first.

The last driver to win the championship and the season’s final race occurred in 2017 when Victor Franzoni won at the Watkins Glen International road course.

Indy Pro 2000 champs that have won the final race of the season

YEAR DRIVER
2017 Victor Franzoni
2016 Aaron Telitz
2013 Matthew Brabham
2009 Adam Christodoulou
2003 Luis Schiavo
1999 Joey Hand

 

The Team Pelfrey crew and driver Aaron Telitz pump their fists after winning the 2016 Indy Pro 2000 championship and the finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)


Previously at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

  • Part of the VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented By Cooper Tires, the two races will be the 27th and 28th Indy Pro 2000 races held at the central Ohio natural terrain road course.
  • A dozen drivers are on the entry list for the VP Racing Lubricants Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader.
  • At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Indy Pro 2000 races have been won by 20 different drivers representing 13 unique teams.

Indy Pro 2000 winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

2021 Race #2 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing
2021 Race #1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development
2020 Race #5 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing
2020 Race #4 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing
2020 Race #3 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing
2020 Race #2 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing
2020 Race #1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport
2019 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport
2019 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport
2018 Race #2 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing
2018 Race #1 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing
2017 Race #3 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2017 Race #2 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing
2017 Race #1 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports
2016 Race #2 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports
2016 Race #1 Nico Jamin Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #2 Neil Alberico Cape Motorsports
2015 Race #1 Santi Urrutia Team Pelfrey
2014 Race #2 Garett Grist Andretti Autosport
2014 Race #1 Nicolas Costa Team Pelfrey
2013 Race #2 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport
2013 Race #1 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport
2006 Ryan Justice Northwest Autosport
2005 Rafa Matos Ocean Tomo Racing
2004 Michael McDowell Star Race Cars
2002 Guy Cosmo Racers Edge Motorsports
  • In the seven races over the last two seasons, five different teams have visited victory lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • Juncos Hollinger Racing has six wins, four poles, and 25 podiums to lead all teams in those categories.
  • The average starting spot of the winner is 1.9 and a driver starting on the front row in 20 of the 26 previous races has gone on to victory.
  • The average finishing spot of the pole sitter is 3.2, and only once have they failed to finish.
  • Only five of the previous 26 Indy Pro 2000 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course have had a first-lap caution.
  • Only twice has an Indy Pro 2000 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course finished under caution.
  • The margin of victory was less than one second in ten of the 24 races that have finished under green.
  • The closest margin of victory came in 2013 Race #2 when Matthew Brabham crossed the line only 0.155 seconds ahead of Diego Ferreira.
  • In 2017 Race #3, Anthony Martin beat Victor Franzoni to the checkered flag by 13.9957 seconds, the widest gap between first and second.

Indy Pro 2000 weekend schedule

Friday, October 1

  • 4pm – 4:30 pm – Indy Pro 2000 Practice #1

Saturday, October 2

  • 10:20am – 10:50am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #1
  • 2:05pm – 2:50pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #1

Sunday, October 3

  • 9:30am – 10am – Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying #2
  • 1:10pm – 2pm – Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

 


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

Preview – Indy Lights – VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires field at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July 2021 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

After 18 races, 623 laps, and 1314.215-miles of back and forth Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires action, the championship and the $1,289,425 scholarship that goes to the winner comes down to a pair of races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood and HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas, the two combatants for the coveted championship and guaranteed NTT INDYCAR SERIES ride that comes with it, have been waging a season-long battle for the ages.

Malukas led the way with five races to go, but a late surge and three-race winning streak leave Kirkwood with a 15-point lead with the final two races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course remaining.

Kyle Kirkwood (left) and David Malukas (right) on the podium together at Portland International Raceway. The championship duo have shared 10 podiums this season Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Indy Lights championship tale-of-the-tape

KYLE KIRKWOOD DAVID MALUKAS
Jupiter, Florida Hometown Chicago, Illinois
22 Age 20
5’9″ Height 5’9″
150lbs Weight 146lbs
9 Wins 7
6 Poles 6
13 Podiums 14
16 Top Fives 16
17 Top Tens 17
10 Races Led 8
306 Laps Led 250
99.4% % Laps Completed 95.8%
2.8 Average Finish 3.0
2.8 Average Start 2.1
2.2 Fastest Lap Avg. 3.3

Kirkwood’s nine wins are one win away from Greg Moore’s season record. The popular Canadian won ten times during his 1995 Indy Lights championship season.

Kyle Kirkwood has had just a “touch” of success at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In 19 race starts across the F4 United States Championship, Formula Regional Americas Championship, USF2000, Indy Pro 2000, and Indy Lights championships, his superlatives read as follows:

  • 12 wins
  • 11 wins in a row dating back to 2017
  • wins in all seven Road To Indy starts
  • ten pole starts
  • 17 podiums
  • led at least a lap in 15 races
  • only one DNF

The just-turned 20-year-old Malukas has not quite had the same success as his rival on the undulating central Ohio road course, but he’s also been no slouch in his ten starts.

Malukas is still looking for his first win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Still, he does have five podiums and nine top-six finishes across his starts in USF2000, Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights, and Formula Regional Americas. His lone finish outside the top ten came when a mechanical issue thwarted a sure win after a pole win in Indy Pro 2000.

With the championship so close, the drivers hold most of their future in their own hands, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love some help from their teammates.

For points leader Kirkwood, that help will most likely come from Danial Frost. The Singaporean finished twice and ahead of Malukas in both races in July, and he has six top-five finishes across a dozen American open-wheel starts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Malukas could use some help from his teammate Linus Lundqvist, who finished fourth in both Indy Lights races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July but does have a pair of wins from the pole in the Formula Regional Americas Championship.

Below the championship twosome, Global Racing Group w/HMD rookie Linus Lundqvist, the only other driver to win an Indy Lights race this season, has locked down third place in the championship. With that, the Swede has earned himself an important NTT INDYCAR SERIES test.

Behind the top three, only 37 points separate Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport), and Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport) in the battle for fourth.

Pedersen, a Dane who calls Washington State, was ninth in the points standings when the series left the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course three months ago, but an impressive run of a half-dozen races with three podiums and six top-five finishes has moved the 22-year-old into fourth place, 18 points ahead of the Frost, whose stellar Mid-Ohio results we’ve already mentioned.

Only 10 points behind his teammate Frost is Canadian DeFrancesco, who stood on two Indy Pro 2000 podiums at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year.

2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points standings

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Kyle Kirkwood – r Andretti Autosport 488
2 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 473 -15
3 Linus Lundqvist – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 403 -85
4 Benjamin Pedersen – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 322 -166
5 Danial Frost – r Andretti Autosport 304 -184
6 Devlin DeFrancesco – r Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 294 -194
7 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 285 -203
8 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 236 -252
9 Alex Peroni – r Carlin 228 -260
10 Sting Ray Robb – r Juncos Hollinger Racing 218 -270
11 Christian Bogle – r Carlin 207 -281
12 Antonio Serravalle – r Pserra Racing 157 -331
13 Nikita Lastochkin – r HMD Motorsports 123 -365
14 Rasmus Lindh – r Juncos Hollinger Racing 57 -431
15 Manuel Sulaiman – r HMD Motorsports 51 -437

 

Hyperco Rookie Of The Year

Championship leader Kyle Kirkwood has this one locked up, and it’s not even close.

2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires rookie standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Kyle Kirkwood – r 488
2 Linus Lundqvist – r 403 -85
3 Benjamin Pedersen – r 322 -166
4 Danial Frost – r 304 -184
5 Devlin DeFrancesco – r 294 -194
6 Alex Peroni – r 228 -260
7 Sting Ray Robb – r 218 -270
8 Christian Bogle – r 207 -281
9 Antonio Serravalle – r 157 -331
10 Nikita Lastochkin – r 123 -365
11 Rasmus Lindh – r 57 -431
12 Manuel Sulaiman – r 51 -437

Team Bragging Rights

Team points are distributed as follows to a teams top two finishers in each race – 1st is 22 points, 2nd is 18 points, 3rd is 15 points, 4th is 12 points, 5th is 10 points, 6th is 8 points, 7th is 6 points, 8th is 4 points, 9th is 2 points, and 10th+ is 1 point.  

Between them, HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group (70 starts) and Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport (72) have 142 starts in 2021 and only have 39 points separating them with eight starts each remaining.

The pair of four-car powerhouse squads each have nine wins and nine poles, but where HMD/GRG stands out is their 29 to 21 advantage in podiums.

However, the last time the top rung of the RTI visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July, Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport outscored HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group by an 80 to 54 margin, making the final doubleheader that much more interesting.

2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires team championship standings

RANK TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 HMD Motorsports 597
2 Andretti Autosport 558 -39
3 Juncos Hollinger Racing 286 -311
4 Carlin 233 -364
5 Pserra Racing/AS Promotions 102 -495

The Indy Lights team championship debuted in 2014. If Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport were to pull off the improbable comeback, it would be the team’s third team championship and third in a row.

If HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group holds one, it will be their first team title in only their second year of competition.

Indy Lights team champions

YEAR TEAM
2019 Andretti Autosport
2018 Andretti Autosport
2017 Belardi Auto Racing
2016 Carlin
2015 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Sam Schmidt is presented the Indy Lights team championship trophy in 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)


Double the bubbly

Only ten of the previous 34 Indy Lights champions has won a race in the final weekend of the championship.

The first was Fabrizio Barbazza, the inaugural champ, who won one of his five races of 1986 on the Tamiami Park street course in Miami, Fla., on the way to the title.

The last was Pato O’Ward, who won both races on the way to his 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires title at the Portland International Raceway.

Indy Lights champions that won the finale

YEAR DRIVER
2018 Pato O’Ward
2015 Spencer Pigot
2005 Wade Cunningham
2004 Thiago Medeiros
2002 A. J. Foyt IV
2001 Townsend Bell
2000 Scott Dixon
1995 Greg Moore
1993 Bryan Herta
1986 Fabrizio Barbazza

Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Thiago Medeiros celebrates winning a race and championship at Texas Motor Speedway in 2004 (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)


Previously at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

  • Part of the VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented By Cooper Tires, the two races will be the 32nd and 33rd Indy Lights races held at the central Ohio natural terrain road course.
  • A dozen drivers are on the entry list, with Antonio Serravalle and Pserra Racing/AS Promotions returning to action after sitting out the trip to the west coast.
  • Indy Lights graduates have won seventeen of the last 22 Indy car races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Indy Lights races have been won by 23 different drivers representing 14 unique teams.

Indy Lights winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2021 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport
2021 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport
2019 Race #2 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport
2019 Race #1 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport
2018 Race #2 Patricio O’Ward Andretti Autosport
2018 Race #1 Patricio O’Ward Andretti Autosport
2017 Race #2 Nico Jamin Andretti Autosport
2017 Race #1 Santi Urrutia Belardi Auto Racing
2016 Race #2 Santi Urrutia Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2016 Race #1 Santi Urrutia Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2015 Race #2 Sean Rayhall 8Star Motorsports
2015 Race #1 RC Enerson Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014 Race #1 Jack Harvey Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014 Race #2 Jack Harvey Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2013 Gabby Chaves Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2010 Martin Plowman Andretti Autosport
2009 James Davison Vision Racing
2008 Race #2 James Davison Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2008 Race #1 Rafa Matos Andretti Autosport
2007 Richard Antinucci Cheever Racing
2001 Townsend Bell Dorricott Racing
2000 Townsend Bell Dorricott Racing
1994 Andre Ribeiro Tasman Motorsports
1993 Bryan Herta Tasman Motorsports
1992 Robbie Groff Groff Motorsports
1991 Brian Till Cole Performance
1990 Paul Tracy Landford Racing
1989 P.J. Jones PIG Enterprise Racing
1988 Jon Beekhuis PIG Enterprise Racing
1987 Juan Manuel Fangio II TeamKar International
1986 Steve Millen Truesports
  • Andretti Autosport has won seven straight races going back to 2017 and nine of 31 previous races.
  • Andretti Autosport has nine poles, 25 podiums, and 308 laps led, leading all teams.
  • The average starting spot of the winner is 1.8 – the pole-sitter has won 21 of 31 67.7% of races.
  • The average finishing spot of the pole sitter is 3.6, and they have failed to finish only twice.
  • The closest Indy Lights finish occurred in 1991 when Brian Till beat Mark Smith to the checkered flag by 0.215 seconds.
  • Eleven of the 31 Indy Lights races held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course have gone caution-free.
  • Race #2 in 2008, a wet affair, had five cautions for ten laps, the most for both categories for any Indy Lights race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • That same water-logged race in 2008 had ten drivers fail to finish the 20-lap race, the most DNFs in any Indy Lights race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
  • Sticking with that chaotic race won by James Davison, it’s the only Indy Lights race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to finish under the yellow flag.
  • That was also the race that  Jonny Reid gave away when he pulled into the pits instead of taking the checkered flag.

Indy Lights weekend schedule

Friday, October 1

  • 3pm – 3:45pm – Indy Lights Practice #1

Saturday, October 2

  • 9:25am – 10:05am – Indy Lights Qualifying #1
  • 1pm – 1:50pm – Indy Lights Race #1

Saturday, October 3

  • 8:45am – 9:15am – Indy Lights Qualifying #2
  • noon – 12:50pm – Indy Lights Race #2

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

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