Archives for 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Coverage

HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas grabs third Indy Lights pole of the season

HMD Motorsports Indy Lights pilot David Malukas focused at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

The second half-hour Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires qualifying session of the weekend got started under sunny skies with an ambient temperature of 58F and a track temperature of 77F. That was 13 degrees warmer than the start of the Indy Pro 2000 race only an hour ago.

After the first ten minutes of running, Toby Sowery was the provisional pole sitter with a lap timed at 75.7835 seconds. Linus Lundqvist, David Malukas, Sting Ray Robb, and Alex Peroni were in the top five and all within a half-second of Sowery’s quickest lap. All 13 drivers had completed either five or six laps.

At the halfway point of the 30-minute session, pit road was busy with drivers bolting on fresh rubber.

The first driver to improve on the fresh Cooper Tires and grab the provisional pole was Lundqvist, but the timing screens started to light up with green as the tires reached their optimal operating temperature.

Lundqvist, Friday’s winner, didn’t hold the provisional pole long. His teammate Malukas, on his 15th of 17th laps, went nine-hundredths quicker than his teammate, taking his third Indy Lights pole and seventh on the Road To Indy.

Indy Lights Race #2 qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:15.1851 ——
2 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:15.2806 0.0955
3 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:15.2909 0.1058
4 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:15.5165 0.3314
5 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:15.5334 0.3483
6 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:15.5388 0.3537
7 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:15.7740 0.5889
8 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:15.8137 0.6286
9 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:15.9580 0.7729
10 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:15.9709 0.7858
11 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:15.9825 0.7974
12 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:16.2918 1.1067
13 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:16.3475 1.1624

Artem Petrov leads Exclusive Autosport one-two in chaotic Indy Pro 2000 Race #2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By Steve Wittich

Exclusive Autosport Indy Pro 2000 sophomore Artem Petrov on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The command to fire the Indy Pro 2000 engines was given by race control at 7:46 am. The skies were cloudless, and the ambient temperature was a brisk 45mph.

Customarily, the bottom two rungs of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires only have one pace lap, but because of the chilly temperatures, the baker’s dozen drivers were given an extra lap behind the pace car to get some heat in their Cooper Tires.

As the field was coming to the start, Race #1 race winner Christian Rasmussen came to pit road with a mechanical issue from his third starting spot. The Jay Howard Driver Development crew was able to get the No. 1 back on track but was two laps down and finished ninth.

Eves quickly ducked in behind the pole-sitter Gold before popping to the outside of the Juncos Racing rookie.

Both drivers locked up, missing the 90-degree right-hander. Gold touched the grass at the corner exit, spinning his Ticket Clinic sponsored No. 55. Eves was forced to use the escape road, rejoining the field mid-pack.

Gold kept his 2.0L powerplant running but got stuck in the wet grass, necessitating a yellow flag to get him back on the pavement.

During that chaos, Juncos Racing rookie Kyffin Simpson grabbed the lead from his fifth starting position.

The running order under yellow after one lap was: Simpson, Artem Petrov (Exclusive Autosport), Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), Eves, James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport), Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Gold, Rasmussen and Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development).

Just before the yellow flag came out, Brichacek had an issue in Turn 7 on the opening lap and was forced to retire.

The green flag came back out to start lap three with Simpson leading the way across the ”yard of bricks.’

Simpson, Petrov, and McElrea were three-wide as they reached the braking zone to Turn 1. McElrea smartly backed out. Petrov was able to out-brake Simpson and complete a pass to the outside of the right-hander.

Petrov built a 1.2-second lead over Simpson, but the yellow flag came out just after they started Lap 4.

James Roe and Colin Kaminsky made contact in Turn 9. The Slick Locks sponsored No. 27 of Kaminsky ended up stranded in the wet grass outside of Turn 9. Roe was able to make it back to pit road and the Turn 3 Motorsport crew. It appeared that he had damage to his left rear suspension. He was able to continue but was two laps down.

While the field was circulating under yellow and about to go back to green, the No. 22 of Sulaiman ground to a halt in Turn 12. That necessitated another lap under yellow.

The running order as the field took the green flag for a Lap 8 restart was Petrov, Simpson, Eves, McElrea, Ahmed, Miller, Abel, and Gold. Those eight drivers were the only cars still on the lead lap.

Petrov got a great restart, while Simpson lagged behind him. Petrov’s teammate Eves also got a good start, passing Simpson before they got to Turn 1.

Petrov and Eves both locked up going into Turn 1, with the Russian holding onto the top spot.

Petrov led Lap 9. Behind the Exclusive Autosport duo up front, McElrea missed Turn 1 and the exit road. The Kiwi remained on the lead lap but fell from fifth to ninth and was over 25 seconds behind Abel.

On Lap 12, Gold utilized an outside pass in Turn 1 to get by Ahmed and move to fourth. The pole-sitter fell to 11th after his first lap, first turn spin, but still had an opportunity to get back on the podium.

Petrov received the cross flags to signify the halfway point of the 25 lap race a half-second ahead of Eves. Simpson was within a second of Eves in the final podium spot. Gold, Ahmed, Miller, Abel, and McElrea were in positions four through eight.

Petrov’s lead was only 0.4 seconds with eight laps remaining, with the top four covered by only 1.5 seconds. Gold, who was fourth, was the quickest of the four and putting pressure on his teammate Simpson for the final spot on the podium.

Petrov’s lead two laps later was 0.7 seconds. The gap between the drivers in the second, third, and fourth positions was only one second.

Petrov held a steady lead over the last five laps, finishing 0.49 seconds ahead of his teammate.

Gold continued to put immense pressure on Simpson, with the teammates going side-by-side through Turn 13. Simpson held off Gold, but not by much, with the Cayman Islands driver finishing a slim 0.0122 seconds ahead of Gold.

One driver was able to make a last-lap pass. Abel was able to get around Miller to finish sixth.

Unofficial results of Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport ——
2 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport -0.4919
3 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing -2.148
4 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing -2.1602
5 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA -4.0246
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -10.3614
7 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -12.2096
8 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing -27.6528
9 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development -2 LAPS
10 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport DNF – Mechanical
11 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing DNF – Mechanical
12 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing DNF – Contact
13 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development DNF – Mechanical

The final race of the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires is set to roll off at 11:40 am.

Pabst Racing veteran Sundaramoorthy wins entertaining USF2000 race on IMS road course

Yuven Sundaramoorthy works the curbs in the S team Motorsports sponsored No. 22 during USF2000 action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the second time this season, Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) won an exciting first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race.

The win by Sundaramoorthy, from Oconomoc, Wisc., is the fourth at the iconic race track for the Wisconsin-based Pabst Racing.

The caution-free race officially had only one pass for the lead, but that didn’t tell the entire story. The exciting race had 164 total passes and featured a 12th to second place drive by Cape Motorsports veteran Michael d’Orlando.

Pole-sitter Brooks led ten of the 15 laps but faced constant pressure from Sundaramoorthy and his Pabst Racing teammate Josh Pierson. The points leader heading into the race held onto the last spot on the podium, and the points lead.

The top five (unofficial) points after the race are:

Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) –> 121 points
Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing) –> 98 points
Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing) –> 88 points
Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) –> 88 points
Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) –> 79 points

DEForce Racing veteran Nolan Siegel set the fastest lap of the race and collected the single bonus point that goes with it.

The call to fire the 26 Elite Engine prepared 2.0L engines powering the lowest rung on the Road To Indy ladder was given by race control at 10:37 am.

After one pace lap, the front row of Brooks and Pierson brought the field across the ‘yard of bricks’ on the long front straight.

Pierson immediately dropped in behind Brooks to draft the pole-sitter down the long front straight. The Pabst Racing driver popped to the outside of Exclusive Autosport No. 44 but could not make the pass into the right-hander.

Behind the first two rows, the drivers went three and four wide. Twenty-four of the 26 cars made it safely to Turn 2, but that was not the case for Myles Rowe and Prescott Campbell. The two drivers who started 11th and 13th made contact, and both drivers had to come to pit road for repairs. They were able to continue, finishing 21st and 22nd, respectively.

The running order after the first lap was Brooks, Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Sundaramoorthy, Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Matthew Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Grant Palmer (Exclusive Autosport), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Erik Evans (Velocity Racing Development), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), and Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing).

Brooks started Lap 4 with a 0.25-second lead, but by the time they got to the braking zone for Turn 1, they were side-by-side. The former teammate battled through the first four corners before Brooks.

On Lap 5, Sundaramoorthy was able to get back by Green for the final spot on the podium in Turn 1. Further back, Jay Howard Driver Development teammates Bijoy Garg and Jackson Lee made light contact in the same turn. Garg missed his braking point, hitting the right rear of Lee’s car. Garg was able to continue, while Lee came to a stop in the Turn 1 run-off area. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to clear Lee, keeping the track green.

As the leaders got the crossed flags, they went three-wide into the braking zone in Turn 1. All three drivers made it safely through the corner, with Pierson making an inside pass for the lead. The 15-year-olds lead only held for five more corners before Brooks got back by Pierson for the lead in Turn 7. That gave Sundaramoorthy a chance to get by his Pabst Racing teammate, with the Barber Motorsports Park Race #1 taking off after the leader.

On Lap 10, Sundaramoorthy went around the outside of Brooks in Turn 1, grabbing the lead and pulling away from Brooks.

With two laps remaining, Sundaramoorthy’s lead over Brooks was 0.7099 seconds. Brooks, d’Orlando, and Pierson were all within seven-tenths of a second and fought for the podium’s final two spots.

The lead when Sundaramoorthy got the white flag was 1.01 seconds. Behind the veteran piloted No. 22, Brooks, d’Orlando, and Pierson

There were three passes for a position on the race’s final lap, with d’Orlando getting by Brooks for the second spot on the podium. Further down the field, Dylan Christie was able to move into eighth after passing Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), and Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports) moved past Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development) for 18th place.

USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 15 LAPS
2 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -1.8985
3 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -2.464
4 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing -2.7688
5 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport -3.3854
6 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -4.4271
7 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing -4.8691
8 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -7.0796
9 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports -7.5438
10 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -7.8954
11 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -8.9431
12 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -10.7175
13 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing -15.21
14 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport -16.1403
15 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 16.3184
16 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 16.7624
17 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 17.8182
18 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 19.1644
19 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 19.9406
20 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 20.1853
21 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -1 LAP
22 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing -1 LAP
23 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing -1 LAP
24 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development -5 LAPS
25 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport -6 LAPS
26 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -10 LAPS

The lowest rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 3:25 pm.

Lundqvist grabs second pole of the Indy Lights season – fourth pole for Global Racing Group/HMD Motorsports

The Honda Performance Development/Global Racing Group/FX Airguns/Paytrim/JULA sponsored No. 26 IL-15 on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

If you looked at the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Thursday testing, practice, and qualifying results, you wouldn’t know that Linus Lundqvist was making his first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 22-year-old Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports driver will start on the pole for the second time this season. Between the Swede and his teammate David Malukas, the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team has won four of the five poles to start the 2021 season.

Lundqvist’s quickest lap of the session was timed at 75.0978 seconds, just over a-tenth-of-a-second quicker than Juncos Racing veteran Toby Sowery. Sowery, Malukas, and St. Petersburg winner Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) were all within 0.06 seconds and will start second, third, and fourth, respectively.

The entire baker’s dozen drivers were within one second.

The first of two Indy Lights qualifying sessions of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires weekend got the green flag at 8:35 am. The half-hour session was held under a cloudless Hoosier sky with brisk temperatures that struggled to reach 50F.

Early in the session, Megennis, Malukas, and Lundqvist held the provisional pole for at least one lap.

The first driver to crack the 76-second barrier was Toby Sowery. Malukas and Lundqvist quickly joined the veteran in that club.

At the halfway point of the session, the drivers had turned between seven and nine laps.

With a lap timed at 75.7346 seconds, Lundqvist was the quickest of the baker’s dozen drivers, but the field was tight. The top eight were all within a half-second of Lundqvist as the field made their way to pit road for fresh Cooper Tire slicks and adjustment from their crew.

Following Lundqvist on the timing screens were Sowery, Malukas, DeFrancesco, Alex Peroni (Carlin), Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport), Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD), Christian Bogle (Carlin), Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), and Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports).

The first driver to get their sticky new Cooper Tire slicks in the optimal temperature range was Frost, who quickly moved to the second spot on the timing screens.

On his next flying lap, his 13th of the session,
Frost grabbed the provisional pole. The Singaporean’s time on the provisional pole didn’t last long.

The laps times started to drop quickly with each time the drivers crossed the timing line just before Turn 12, with Peroni, Malukas, and Lundqvist all holding the provisional pole in the final five minutes of the session.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying #1

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:15.0978 ——
2 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:15.2204 0.1226
3 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:15.2637 0.1659
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:15.2846 0.1868
5 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:15.4630 0.3652
6 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:15.4915 0.3937
7 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:15.6005 0.5027
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:15.6773 0.5795
9 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:15.7163 0.6185
10 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:15.7986 0.7008
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:15.9190 0.8212
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:15.9308 0.8330
13 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:16.0570 0.9592

The first Indy Lights race is set to roll off at 2:10 pm.

Reece Gold grabs first career Indy Pro 2000 pole, it’s the 6th in a row and 11th at IMS for Juncos Racing

Reece Gold in The Ticket Clinic sponsored No. 55 PM-18 from the Juncos Racing stable on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the first time in his short five-race Indy Pro 2000 career, Juncos Racing rookie Reece Gold will start a race from the pole. It’s the 16-year-olds second career Road To Indy pole, with the other one coming on this same track in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series in 2020.

The pole is the 6th straight on the IMS road course for Juncos Racing and their 11th at their home track.

Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) will start on the outside of the front row, with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Christian Rasmussen and another Juncos Racing rookie, Kyffin Simpson, starting on the second row.

The first track activity of a busy Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway got underway promptly at 8 am.

The 13 Indy Pro 2000 machines powered by Elite Engine 2.0L powerplants took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course under cloudless skies and brisk conditions.

The ambient temperature was 49F, and the track temperature was 58F when the 20-minute qualifying session got underway.

It only took three laps for Gold to eclipses the laps times from the Thursday afternoon when he was the first driver to turn a sub-81-second lap.

At the halfway point of the 20-minute session, most drivers had turned five laps and were on pit road for adjustments and fresh Cooper Tire slicks.

Rasmusen had the quickest lap time at 80.6488 seconds but had eight drivers breathing down his neck within three-tenths of a second. At that point in the session, the rest of the top five were Gold, Sulaiman, Petrov and Abel.

It took two laps for the sticker Cooper Tires to come up to temperature.

With six minutes left in the session James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport) went off course in Turn 1, but was able to continue, keeping the track green.

The first driver to improve on his earlier time was Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing). He was quickly joined by Eves and the rest of the field, who kept getting quicker.

With just over three minutes remaining, Gold was the first driver to go under 80-seconds. Most of the field got another two laps in, but nobody could go quicker than the Juncos Racing rookie.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying timesheet (unofficial)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:19.9481 ——
2 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:20.2331 0.2850
3 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:20.3334 0.3853
4 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:20.4104 0.4623
5 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:20.5831 0.6350
6 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:20.6176 0.6695
7 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:20.7130 0.7649
8 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:20.7136 0.7655
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:20.7156 0.7675
10 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:20.7473 0.7992
11 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:20.8098 0.8617
12 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.0206 1.0725
13 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:21.4013 1.4532

Race #1 of the triple-header is set to roll off at 11:45 am.

Brooks grabs second USF2000 pole of the 2021 USF2000 season. Pierson & Sundaramoorthy within seven-hundredths

Christian Brooks – Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the second time this season and the fourth time in his USF2000 career, Exclusive Autosport sophomore Christian Brooks will start a USF2000 race from the pole.

The 20-year-old Californian barely pipped a pair of Pabst Racing drivers. Josh Pierson was a scant 0.0276 second off his first career pole but will still start a career-best second.

Pierson’s veteran teammate Sundaramoorthy, who led both test sessions earlier in the day, was only 0.787 seconds away from winning his second pole of the young 2021 USF2000 season.

Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports rookie Spike Kohlbecker will start from the outside of the second row, the St. Louis, Mo. driver’s best starting position this season.

The third and fourth row consisting of Turn 3 Motorsport’s Josh Green (starts fifth), DEForce Racing’s Kiko Porto (starts sixth), Cape Motorsports’ Thomas Nepveu (starts seventh), and DEForce Racing’s Nolan Siegel (starts ninth) were separated by only six-hundredths of a second.

It’s the first USF2000 pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for Exclusive Autosport and the “Eh Team’s” sixth series pole. The Michael Duncalfe led squad is only the fifth different team to win a USF2000 pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Twenty-two of the 26 drivers were within one second of Brooks pole-lap.

After winning 11 of the first 12 USF2000 poles on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Cape Motorsports pole ‘drought’ at the iconic track has hit four races. The Brownsburg, Ind.-based team’s drivers qualified fifth (Spike Kohlbecker), seventh (Thomas Nepveu), 12th (Michael d’Orlando), and 20th (Evan Stamer).

The two baker’s dozen USF-17s took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at 5 pm on Thursday for their lone qualifying session of the USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires triple-header.

The session began under partly cloudy skies with an ambient temperature in Speedway, Ind. of 66F and the track temperature at 82.9F.

The teams and drivers utilized two different approaches. Sixteen drivers immediately went out on track and started turning laps, while ten waited until later in the session to hit the track.

The early leader was Brooks in the Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44. He was joined early at the top of the timesheet by his teammate Matthew Round-Garrido and the Pabst Racing duo of Sundaramoorthy and Pierson.

The DEForce Racing were the second wave of drivers to hit the track and at the halfway point of the 20-minute session, Porto, with a lap at 84.9612 seconds, held the provisional pole with his teammate Siegel five-hundredths of a second behind him.

Most of the field came in for fresh Cooper Tire slicks and adjustments around the session’s halfway point.

The first driver to go green and grab the provisional pole was Pierson, who was quickly supplanted by his more experienced Pabst Racing teammate Sundaramoorthy.

Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports rookie Spike Kohlbecker grabbed the provisional pole with just over five minutes remaining in the session.

With just under five minutes remaining, Pierson went quicker, two laps in a row, coming within one-tenth-of-a-second of the track record.

Pierson’s hold on the provisional pole held until only 30 seconds were remaining in the session. On his tenth lap of the session, Brooks went two-hundredths of a second quicker than his 2020 Exclusive Autosport teammate.

USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying (unofficial) results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:24.6284 ——
2 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:24.6560 0.0276
3 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:24.7071 0.0787
4 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:24.8480 0.2196
5 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:24.9509 0.3225
6 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:24.9612 0.3328
7 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:25.0060 0.3776
8 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:25.0148 0.3864
9 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:25.0599 0.4315
10 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:25.1326 0.5042
11 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:25.1370 0.5086
12 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:25.2118 0.5834
13 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:25.2183 0.5899
14 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 1:25.2416 0.6132
15 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 1:25.3184 0.6900
16 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:25.3866 0.7582
17 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:25.4051 0.7767
18 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:25.5339 0.9055
19 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:25.5668 0.9384
20 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:25.5729 0.9445
21 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.6144 0.9860
22 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.6395 1.0111
23 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.8060 1.1776
24 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:25.8380 1.2096
25 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 1:26.1087 1.4803
26 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:26.6533 2.0249

Setting the grids for USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 and Race #3

With a condensed schedule and a trio of races scheduled for Friday and Saturday, this was the lone qualifying session for the USF2000 drivers and teams.

The grid for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning’s races will be set utilizing Rule 8.5.3 from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship rule book. That rule states:

8.5.3. If scheduling does not permit separate Qualification sessions, or the Qualification session scheduled for a specific Race was abandoned, the starting lineup for that Race shall be based on a Drivers fastest lap from the previous Race, or the second-fastest qualifying lap from the most recent qualifying session during the same Event weekend.

  • The grid for Race #2 will be set utilizing the quickest of a driver’s second-quickest qualifying lap or their fastest lap in Race #1
  • The grid for Race #3 will be set utilizing the quickest of a driver’s second-quickest qualifying lap or their fastest lap in Race #2.

Race #1 rolls off at 10:40 am on Friday.

Andretti Autosport rookie Frost leads tight Indy Lights practice session at IMS

By Steve Wittich

Wow! For the second straight Road To Indy practice session. The top nine drivers on the timesheet for the lone Indy Lights practice session of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires weekend were within three-tenths of a second of the quickest driver, Andretti Autosport rookie Danial Frost.

The 19-year-old Frost turned a lap timed at 75.9347 seconds on his tenth of 24 laps turned during the 60-minute practice.

Trailing Frost by a scant five-hundredths of a second was Juncos Racing veteran Toby Sowery. Linus Lundqvist (Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports) and Andretti Autosport teammates Kyle Kirkwood and Robert Megennis rounded out the top five.

All 13 drivers were within one second of Frost.

The baker’s dozen drivers completed 291 laps. Rookie Christian Bogle was the busiest driver, completing 31 circuits of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires Practice #1 Timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:15.9347 —— 24
2 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:15.9926 0.0579 7
3 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:16.0642 0.1295 21
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:16.1572 0.2225 22
5 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:16.1644 0.2297 24
6 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:16.2048 0.2701 21
7 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:16.2087 0.2740 23
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:16.2105 0.2758 22
9 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:16.2153 0.2806 24
10 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:16.3017 0.3670 24
11 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:16.5055 0.5708 24
12 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:16.7289 0.7942 24
13 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:16.8844 0.9497 31

Testing

The Indy Lights teams and drivers had a pair of 50-minute practice sessions earlier today. Barber Motorsports Park Race #1 winner Lundqvist led both sessions, with Sowery, Peroni, DeFrancesco, and Kirkwood the remainder of the top five on the combined timesheet.

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires qualifies on Friday at 8:35 am.

Indy Pro 2000 session is led by Artem Petrov – top seven within fifteen-hundredths-of-a-second

Artem Petrov in the Road To Success/Bell/226ers sponsored No. 42 PM-18 from the Exclusive Autosport stable navigates the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy)

Steve Wittich
Wow! The top seven drivers in the lone Indy Pro 2000 practice session in preparation for the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires triple-header were separated by only fifteen-hundredths-of-a-second, in numbers, that is 0.1525 seconds.
Exclusive Autosport veteran Artem Petrov, who started on pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the same series last year, set the quickest lap, timed at 81.0964 seconds. The last race winner in the series, Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), was the seventh-fastest driver, with a lap timed at 81.2489 seconds.
In between Petrov and Rasmussen were points leader Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), and Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing).
All 13 drivers were within one second of Petrov in the session that saw the drivers utilize carry-over sets of Cooper Tires.
Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Practice #1 results.
RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:21.0964 —— 9
2 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:21.1054 0.0090 16
3 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:21.1645 0.0681 16
4 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:21.1717 0.0753 15
5 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:21.1770 0.0806 13
6 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:21.1986 0.1022 12
7 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.2489 0.1525 12
8 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:21.5450 0.4486 17
9 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:21.5752 0.4788 17
10 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:21.8189 0.7225 8
11 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.8225 0.7261 18
12 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.8448 0.7484 19
13 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:22.0344 0.9380 17

Testing

The series had 100-minutes of practice before the lone practice session. Petrov led the first session, and Rasmussen led the second session.
Rasmussen led the combined timesheet, with Sulaiman, Petrov, Gold, and Kaminsky rounding out the top five.
The middle-rung of the ladder is back on track bright and early on Friday morning for qualifying at 8 am.

Brooks leads lone USF2000 practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Christian Brooks scored the win from pole in USF2000 Race 1 from St. Pete. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the first time this season, double race-winner Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) led the lone practice session of a race weekend.
The 26 entries (minus one driver) for the USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires triple-header took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at 2:30 pm for their lone practice session of the race weekend.
Unfortunately, Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Jackson Lee missed the practice session. Due to COVID protocols, the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 are not in the bubble with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights and only have one opportunity to get to pit lane. If that opportunity is missed, the driver has to sit out that session. Lee missing practice was not the first time that a driver missed a session today. Let’s hope for the driver’s sakes; it’s the last.
Drivers utilized a carry-over set of tires, so times aren’t terribly representative of what to expect during qualifying.
Brooks held the top spot on the timing screens early in the session, holding onto that spot for the entire session.
After fifteen of 30 minutes, Brooks best lap time was 85.0219 seconds, almost two-tenths-of-a-second quicker than Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), who was followed in the top five by Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), and Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport).
Because drivers were on used tires, the usual last-minute fliers were not as common, with a pair of DEForce Racing drivers – Nolan Siegel and Kiko Porto – the only drivers to crack into the top ten in the second half of the session.
USF2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires Practice Session #1 Timesheet
RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:25.0171 —— 16
2 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:25.1897 0.1726 18
3 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:25.1986 0.1815 16
4 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:25.2122 0.1951 20
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:25.4402 0.4231 17
6 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:25.4771 0.4600 17
7 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:25.4821 0.4650 21
8 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:25.5018 0.4847 15
9 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:25.5057 0.4886 16
10 92 Matt Round-Garrido Exclusive Autosport 1:25.5949 0.5778 15
11 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:25.6080 0.5909 15
12 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:25.6618 0.6447 17
13 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:25.6997 0.6826 18
14 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:25.7309 0.7138 18
15 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 1:25.7912 0.7741 15
16 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:25.7963 0.7792 15
17 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.7968 0.7797 16
18 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:25.8252 0.8081 19
19 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.8444 0.8273 13
20 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:25.8950 0.8779 16
21 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:26.0948 1.0777 17
22 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.1308 1.1137 16
23 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:26.1961 1.1790 19
24 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:26.2308 1.2137 14
25 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 1:26.2909 1.2738 20
26 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development No Time

Testing

The series had 100-minutes of testing earlier today, with Sundaramoorthy leading both sessions. The American-born Indian driver asked fans to help support the relief effort for the horrible COVID situation in India.

 

Sundaramoorthy, Porto, d’Orlando, Siegel, Kohlbecker, Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), and Green were the drivers in the top ten during both test sessions.
The bottom rung of the Road To Indy ladder is back on track at 5 pm for qualifying.

Our Indy Pro 2000 preview for the IMS road course – five stories and things to watch for

The start of an Indy Pro 2000/Pro Mazda race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wtitich

It’s time for the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires annual trip to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the eighth straight season the Indy Pro 2000 teams have drivers have visited the track.

The three races will be:

  • the fifth, sixth and seventh of the 2021 season
  • the 17th, 18th and 19th held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
  • the 280th, 281st and 282nd Indy Pro 2000/Star Mazda/Pro Mazda race since 1999

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires winners on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course

Year Driver Team
2020 Race #3 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing
2020 Race #2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing
2020 Race #1 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing
2019 Race #2 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing
2019 Race #1 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing
2018 Race #2 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport
2018 Race #1 Harrison Scott RP Motorsport
2017 Race #2 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing
2017 Race #1 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing
2016 Race #2 Pato O’Ward Team Pelfrey
2016 Race #1 Pato O’Ward Team Pelfrey
2015 Race #3 Santiago Urrutia Team Pelfrey
2015 Race #2 Timothe Buret Juncos Racing
2015 Race #1 Weiron Tan Andretti Autosport
2014 – Race #2 Scott Hargrove Cape Motorsports with /WTR
2014 – Race #1 Scott Hargrove Cape Motorsports with /WTR

It’s still early, but as many people predicted (including TSO Ladder), the battle for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title and the $718,065 scholarship that goes with it is going to be a lot of fun for fans to watch.

Only 31 points separate the top five, and spots five through nine have a slender 17 points separating the quintet of drivers.

2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points after four races

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 98
2 Christian Rasmussen – r Jay Howard Driver Development 94 -4
3 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 87 -11
4 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 79 -19
5 Reece Gold – r Juncos Racing 67 -31
6 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 57 -41
7T Enaam Ahmed – r RP Motorsport 55 -43
7T Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 55 -43
9 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 50 -48
10 Cameron Shields – r DEForce Racing 43 -55
11 Wyatt Brichacek – r Jay Howard Driver Development 41 -57
12 Flinn Lazier – r Legacy Autosport 37 -61
13 Hunter Yeany – r Velocity Racing Development 34 -64
14 Kyffin Simpson – r Juncos Racing 32 -66
15 Jack William Miller – r Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 30 -68
16 James Roe – r Turn 3 Motorsport 29 -69
17 Enzo Fittipaldi – r RP Motorsport 20 -78

Indy Pro 2000 points leader Braden Eves celebrates his second win of the year in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy


TSO Ladder’s five stories/things to watch for this weekend

1) Juncos, Juncos, Juncos

Juncos Racing win percentage on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course sits at 50%. The team, which is headquartered less than a mile south of the iconic track in downtown Speedway, Ind., has visited the top step of the podium in eight of the 16 Indy Pro 2000 races contested on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Timothe Buret, in 2015, was the first winner for Juncos Racing at the circuit, and with drivers, Rasmus Lindh (2019) and Sting Ray Robb (2020) have won the last five races at “home.”

Timothe Buret and Ricardo Juncos celebrate Juncos Racing first of eight Indy Pro 2000 wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The team also leads all other squads in pole starts, podiums and laps led.

The team has started on the pole in Indy Pro 2000 races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course ten times. Victor Franzoni (2), Rasmus Lindh (2), Spencer Pigot (2), Sting Ray Robb (2), Timothe Buret (1), and Artem Petrov (1) are the pole sitters for the team at this track.

Drivers flying the Juncos Racing flag have collected 41.7% of the podiums on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Ten different Juncos Racing pilots have stood on the podium in 20 of the 48 races.

Juncos Racing pilots have led 204 laps in Indy Pro 2000 races at the iconic facility, 41 more laps than all other teams combined.


2) Eves returns

September 3, 2020, is a date that current Indy Pro 2000 points leader Braden Eves will not soon forget. The Exclusive Autosport driver was battling for a top-five in the latter stages of the race when an incident in the high-speed right-hand Turn 11 ended with Eves’ destroyed No. 1 PM-18 upside down in the south short-chute.

The driver ended up at IU Methodist Hospital with fractured vertebrae and other injuries, missing the remaining nine races of the 2020 season.

Eves returned to an Exclusive Autosport PM-18 in December and began the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 season with a bang, starting on pole in the first Indy Pro 2000 race of the year at Barber Motorsports Park and leading every lap to take home a dominant victory.

A second Indy Pro 2000 event in St. Petersburg, Fla., netted a second green to checkered victory and the lead in the chase for the $718,065 scholarship to move up to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series.

Eves’ last memory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t a great one. If the just-turned 22-year-old can delve a little deeper into his memory bank, he’ll find some tremendous past Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course memories.

Braden Eves in the No. 8 Cape Motorsports USF-17 on the way to victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019 (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Eves’ first visit to IMS was in 2017 when he twice finished on the podium while competing in the F4 United States Championship. When he returned in a USF2000 car in 2019, Eves led 29 laps and won both races during his championship season.


3) Racing three

The three Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races scheduled for this weekend is the first of two triple-headers planned for the series in 2021. It’s the third time that the iconic speed factory will play host to an Indy Pro 2000 triple-header. In 2015, an extra race was held after an early-season rainout, and last year the series races three times due to the global pandemic.

The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires has held only six previous triple-header events. Three in 2020 and one each in 2017, 2016, and 2015. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (2), the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2), New Jersey Motorsports Park (1), and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (1) are the tracks that have played host to three races during the same event.

Only once, 2020 Indy Pro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb, has a driver won all three races during a triple-header event.

There is an excellent chance that the eventual Indy Pro 2000 champion will stand on the top step of the podium in at least one of the three Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of Indianapolis presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend.

The eventual Indy Pro 2000 champion won at least one of the three races in each of the six previous series triple-headers.


4) Past success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

We’ve already mentioned points leader Braden Eves’ past success on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but how about the other drivers in the field.

Only three drivers, Enaam Ahmed (RP Motorsport), Enzo Fittipaldi (RP Motorsport), and Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), are making their appearances at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

One other Indy Pro 2000 entrant has visited victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway outside of Eves. Reece Gold, a Juncos Racing rookie, made five USF2000 starts at IMS, winning his first career Road To Indy race at the circuit last September.

The two Indy Pro 2000 winners in 2021, not named Eves, Christian Rasmussen and Hunter McElrea, have had quite different experiences at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In five previous starts, the Pabst Racing sophomore McElrea has visited the podium four times but is still looking for his first win.

In his two seasons of Road To Indy action, Rasmussen has only had three finishes of 20th or worse, with two of them coming at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Dane’s average finish at IMS is 12, and it’s the only track on the Road To Indy schedule that he has yet to finish on the podium.

Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Artem Petrov (Exclusive Autosport), and Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing) have all climbed the stairs to the most recognizable podium in motorsports.

Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), and James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport) have combined for 19 starts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and they are all still looking for their first podium. Abel has three top-ten finishes in five starts. Kaminsky has one top-five and five top tens in nine starts, and Roe has one top-five in a pair of 2018 USF2000 starts.


5) TSO Ladder’s breakout picks

Let us see how good our prognosticating skills are.

Sulaiman picks up a win(s)

Juncos Racing sophomore Manuel Sulaiman comes into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway weekend, coming off his best finish of the young season, a second place in Race #2 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing) on the podium in the last Indy Pro 2000 race in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The Mexican driver is currently tied for seventh in points, but that position doesn’t tell the entire story. Unfortunately, the Mexican driver lost a podium in the first race of the year after coming in underweight during technical inspection. (Note – It was not nefarious and was an honest mistake).

The winner of two Indy Pro 2000 races in 2020 will need to improve his 2021 qualifying efforts but should have plenty of confidence in having a fast car when considering Juncos Racing’s past success at this circuit.

Ahmed picks up a podium(s)

Speaking of qualifying, if Enaam Ahmed can improve his qualifying, he has a great chance to grab his first Road To Indy podium(s).

Through the first four races, Ahmed’s race pace has been outstanding. His average of the quickest race lap is 5.8, which ranks third and only behind Braden Eves and Christian Rasmussen, the top two drivers in the championship.

The 21-year-olds qualifying average of 10.3 is not nearly as impressive, ranking 11th of the 17 drivers.

RP Motorsport rookie Enaam Ahmed on the grid in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Ahmed’s team, RP Motorsport, has had past success on the IMS road course in the past, winning a race in 2018 with Harrison Scott and finishing on the podium with Kyle Kirkwood the last time the Italian team visited in 2019.


Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires spotter guide


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.

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