Archives for 2021 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Coverage


As the 2021 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Championship season begins to wrap up, HMD Motorsports has filled their vacant #59 entry for the upcoming Portland Grand Prix. Manuel Sulaiman, who has spent 2021 competing in Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, will be making the move up the Road to Indy ladder to debut in the series.

With six races remaining, the Mexican driver aims to follow a successful career like compatriot Patricio O’Ward and will begin that quest next weekend with HMD Motorsports at the Portland International Raceway. Both Sulaiman and HMD Motorsports have agreed to use Portland and future dates as a testing and learning opportunity in preparation for the next step in the career of the promising, young driver.

“I am very happy with this announcement and for me, this is a very important step in my life as a professional driver,” explained Sulaiman. “Road to Indy and IndyCar are my passion and my dream. I am very grateful for what I have achieved up to now and look forward for more success. The atmosphere and welcoming that HMD has given me in this important upward step I am taking has been exceptionally good, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I, as a driver, will give everything I have and it is an honor to belong to HMD, a team with an impressive win record In Indy Lights, and my respects to them for their success. Nothing else to say, but I am excited to go racing!”

“We are excited to have Manuel join the HMD Motorsports program,” explained General Manager Mike Maurini. “He had a solid test, worked with three of our engineers and performed very well. The future is bright for him.”

Sulaiman began his car racing career in 2017, earning multiple podiums in the British F4 Championship and FIA F4 NACAM. Through 2018 and 2019, Sulaiman competed in British F4 before becoming the 2019 FIA Fórmula 4 NACAM Series Champion with ten wins and fifteen podiums. In 2019, Sulaiman joined the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires program in USF2000, where he finished sixth, with some podiums in the championship. After spending the past two seasons in Indy Pro 2000, Sulaiman has earned three wins, seven podiums and twenty top-ten finishes and is now ready to make his next move up in the program.

Sulaiman will be joining the team alongside series veteran David Malukas and Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports drivers Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen. With a combined eight wins, twenty-one podiums and seven pole positions between the three current drivers and HMD Motorsports leading the Team Championship, Sulaiman will be in a strong position to learn from some of the top current drivers in the series as he begins to prepare for 2022.

Please be sure to follow HMD Motorsports on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @HMDMotorsports. For more information on HMD Motorsports visit or email To stay up to date with Global Racing Group, follow @GlobalRacingGroup on Instagram and @GRGInfo on Twitter and Facebook or visit


source: team PR

Porto wins fourth USF2000 race of the season, extending his championship lead

Kiko Porto on track at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in the Banco Daycoval/Petromega sponsored No. 12 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

A daring outside Turn 1, Lap 1 pass of the pole-sitter by Kiko Porto turned into the fourth victory of the 2021 USF2000 season, extending the championship leaders gap to Michael d’Orlando to 34 points with four contests remaining. 

Cape Motorsports veteran d’Orlando started fifth and finished fifth, unable to make up any ground on the tough to pass 2.14-mile, 12-turn New Jersey Motorsports Park Thunderbolt road course.

Porto lead all 20-laps, and for the third time in his Road To Indy career turned the quickest race lap, earning the two bonus points that go along with those accomplishments. 

Pole sitter Yuven Sundaramoorthy held off fellow veteran Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) to score his seventh podium of the season. 

Brooks’ fourth podium of 2021 and seventh in his USF2000 career moved the Californian past Pabst Racing sophomore Josh Pierson into fourth on the championship table. 

Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore Josh Green started fourth and finished fourth to equal his best finish of the 2021 season and move up one spot to seventh on the championship table. 

Sundaramoorthy punched off quickly, getting the jump on Porto, allowing Brooks to get alongside Porto. Sundaramoorthy held the inside line, allowing Porto to roll more speed on the outside of Turn 1 and grabbing the lead. 

The 23 car field got cleanly through the first lap with the running order as Porto, Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Green, d’Orlando, Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), Ely Navarro (DEForce Racing), Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Michael Myers (Michael Myers Racing), Peter Vodanovich (Jay Howard Driver Development), Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Evan Stamer (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports) and Nathan Byrd (Legacy Autosport). 

On Lap 4, Vodanovich, Nepveau, Stamer, and Myers, fighting for the 16th, were the best battle on the track.

After five laps of action, Porto’s lead over Sundaramoorthy was a half-second, with Brooks and Green within two seconds of the leader. 

On Lap 6, rookie of the year leader Kohlbecker moved around Navarro for 13th. 

At the front of the field, Porto was able to build a 1.6 second lead over Sundaramoorthy. The Pabst Racing veteran was one second ahead of Brooks. However, the Exclusive Autosport sophomore had his mirrors full of Green, who was within three-tenths of a second of the No. 44. 

Further back, Kohlbecker gained another spot. This time the No. 3 got around Rowe, moving up to 12th. 

On Lap 12, Sundaramoorthy, Brooks, Green, and d’Orlando were nose to tail for the final two spots on the podium. 

Behind the battle for the top five, a pair of Pabst Racing teammates were separated by only 0.2 seconds in the tussle for sixth. 

Porto began Lap 15 with a 3.7-second lead, but behind them, the battle for the final two spots on the podium was raging. Brooks took a peek to the inside of Sundaramoorthy in Turn 1 before tucking back in line. 

Porto’s lead at the white flag was just over five seconds, while the fight for second through fifth had those five drivers covered by less than a second. Sundaramoorthy was able to hold off Brooks, while behind them, Green was just able to keep the DB Collaborative/Focused Project Mgmt. sponsored No. 4 of d’Orlando behind him in the battle for fourth. 

Pierson finally moved around his teammate for sixth on that last lap, while Weir lost spots to Frazer, Kohlbecker, and Campbell. 

Kohlbecker finished the race three spots ahead of his 13th place starting position to collect his rookie best tenth top-ten of the season. 

The 20-lap race ran caution-free, the fifth time this season that a USF2000 race has gone green to checkered. 
























1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 20 LAPS
2 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -5.1731
3 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -5.4227
4 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport -6.0024
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -6.1386
6 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing -14.11
7 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -14.8726
8 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing -15.4652
9 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -16.5523
10 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -16.9152
11 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing -18.2109
12 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport -19.1777
13 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy -20.6648
14 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing -21.3608
15 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport -32.2003
16 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports -33.0135
17 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development -34.4055
18 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports -35.2031
19 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -35.8911
20 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development -38.2267
21 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing -46.4067
22 20 Nathan Byrd Legacy Autosport -1 LAP
23 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -10 LAPS

Gold grabs fifth pole of the Indy Pro 2000 season, championship contenders start 3rd and 5th

Reece Gold and The Ticket Clinic sponsored No. 55 from the Juncos Racing stable on track at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. The 16-year-old will start from the pole for the fifth time this season Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

For the fifth time this season, Reece Gold will start an Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race from the inside of the front row. However, the Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie is still looking for his first win of the season.

Gold joins Conor Daly and Sting Ray Robb as pole winners for Juncos Hollinger Racing on the 2.14-mile, 12-turn New Jersey Motorsports Park Thunderbolt road course, moving the Speedway, Ind. based team to lead in Indy Pro 2000 pole wins at the Millville, N.J. track.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Presented by The Andersen Companies Race #1 will mark the 59th time that a driver from Ricardo Juncos’ stable will start an Indy Pro 2000 race from the pole.

Gold enters the penultimate Indy Pro 2000 weekend 71 points behind championship leader Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), who will start directly behind the 16-year-old Gold.

Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) will start on the outside pole, the sophomore’s fifth front row start of the season.

James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport) will roll off from the grid’s fourth spot, the Irish driver’s best qualifying effort on a street and road course.

Last weekend’s winner at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway, Braden Eves, is 32 points adrift of championship leader Rasmussen and will start directly behind the Danish driver in fifth.

Starting outside of Eves is Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports).

With precipitation possible, the ten drivers quickly got to business, jockey for clean race track on their out laps.

After five minutes and two laps, McElrea held the provisional pole by a significant three-tenths-of-a-second.

Like, USF2000, drivers set their quickest laps on their first or second lap on sticker Cooper Tires.

After only four laps, most drivers made the trip to pit lane to make adjustments and mount fresh Cooper Tires for a second run. McElrea was the quickest on the first set of tires, followed in the top five by Rasmussen, Gold, Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport).

The first driver to improve their lap time was the provisional pole sitter McElrea, who went a tenth of a second quicker on each of his next two laps, lowering the provisional pole to 73.5323 seconds.

That left the American-born Kiwi with a half-second advantage of Rasmussen and Gold.

With eight minutes remaining, reports of a light mist were reported around the track.

The following drivers to improve were the Juncos Racing rookie duo of Kyffin Simpson and Reece Gold. The Ticket Clinic No. 55 went quicker on his seventh and eighth laps, grabbing the provisional pole away from McElrea with five minutes remaining in the session.

Also improving on their final runs was World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway pole-sitter Roe, who moved into fourth.

In the second half of the 20-minute session, Petrov was stuck on pit road, getting back on track with three minutes to go, allowing him two laps to improve from tenth on the grid. However, the Russian could not go any quicker and should be fun to watch as he attempts to come through the field.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Presented by The Andersen Companies Qualifying #1 results

1 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:13.3965 ——
2 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:13.5423 0.1458
3 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.7685 0.3720
4 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:13.7700 0.3735
5 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:13.8896 0.4931
6 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:14.0695 0.6730
7 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:14.1100 0.7135
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:14.1800 0.7835
9 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.3086 0.9121
10 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:14.3905 0.9940

The first Indy Pro 2000 race of the weekend gets the green flag at 4:30 pm.

Pabst Racing veteran Sundaramoorthy grabs fourth pole of USF2000 season, ends Porto’s pole streak

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

By Steve Wittich

For the fourth time in 2021, Pabst Racing veteran Yuven Sundaramoorthy will start a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race from the pole. The 18-year-old converted two of those poles into wins at Barber Motorsports Park and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

A Pabst Racing veteran, Eduardo Barrichello, also won the pole for Pabst Racing in Race #1 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2020. Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Race #1 marks the 26th time a driver representing Pabst Racing will start a USF2000 from the inside of the front row.

Championship leader Kiko Porto had his string of consecutive USF2000 pole streak end at five, falling a slim 0.0605 seconds shy of Sundaramoorthy. The DEForce Racing sophomore will start on the front row for the seventh time in 2021.

Starting on the inside of the second row is Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), his best starting spot since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Joining Brooks in row two is Josh Green, who led yesterday’s test session. The fourth-place starting spot matches the Mount Kisco, N.Y. driver’s best starting position this season.

Row three consists of championship contenders Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing) and Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports).

The top six were within four-tenths-of-a-second of pole winner Sundaramoorthy, and the top 15 were within one second of the pole sitter.

After five minutes and two laps, Brooks was the early provisional pole-sitter with a lap at 77.5804 seconds. That lap was already six-tenths-of-a-second ahead of the morning’s quickest time and within four-tenths of the New Jersey Motorsports Park USF2000 track record.

At the halfway point of the 20-minute qualifying session, Brooks’ lap was still held the provisional pole. In the top ten, he was joined by Pierson, Green, Sundaramoorthy, Porto, Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), d’Orlando, Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), Myles Rowe (Force Indy), and Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing).

Most drivers came to pit road for fresh Cooper Tire slicks around the halfway point of the session.

The first driver to improve their lap time was Sundaramoorthy, who jumped to the provisional pole with seven minutes remaining.

Locating enough space among the 23 entries on the short 2.14-mile circuit was the key to putting in a good lap, especially with tires only good for one super-quick lap.

Championship leader Porto was the next driver to go quicker, completing a lap only six-hundredths of a second shy of Sundaramoorthy.

Campbell, Green, and d’Orlando all turned their quickest laps later in the session, but nobody could touch Sundaramoorthy and the S team Motorsports No. 18.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying #1 results

1 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:17.3411 ——
2 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:17.4016 0.0605
3 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:17.5804 0.2393
4 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.6499 0.3088
5 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:17.6673 0.3262
6 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:17.7050 0.3639
7 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:17.7759 0.4348
8 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:17.7866 0.4455
9 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:17.8544 0.5133
10 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.9231 0.5820
11 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:17.9389 0.5978
12 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:18.1855 0.8444
13 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:18.2374 0.8963
14 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.2431 0.9020
15 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:18.3898 1.0487
16 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:18.4689 1.1278
17 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:18.6627 1.3216
18 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:18.6928 1.3517
19 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.7660 1.4249
20 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.9068 1.5657
21 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:19.1328 1.7917
22 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:19.1952 1.8541
23 20 Nathan Byrd Legacy Autosport 1:20.1708 2.8297

The first race of the New Jersey Motorsports Park weekend is scheduled to get the green flag for Race #1 at 2:30 pm.

Rasmussen leads Indy Pro 2000 practice with top five with a tenth of a second

Christian Rasmussen and the JHDD, CSU | One Cure/Lucas Oil sponsored No. 1 on track at the New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

A lap of 74.4936 seconds turned by championship leader and Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Christian Rasmussen led the lone Indy Pro 2000 practice session at the New Jersey Motorsports Park.

The top five drivers in the session were within one-tenth-of-a-second of each other, making the always entertaining qualifying even more critical.

Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), and Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) rounded out the top five.

At the session’s halfway point, McElrea held the top spot, followed by Eves and Gold.

Three drivers – Rasmussen, Brichacek, and Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) had yet to complete a lap.

It didn’t take long for the Jay Howard Driver Development rookies to get up to speed, with the points leader going to the top of the timing screen on only his second lap of the half-hour session.

With seven minutes left in the session, Eves continued to get quicker, getting to within one-tenth-of-a-second of Rasmussen on his 11th lap of practice.

Late in the session, McElrea went back on track, turning his quickest lap on his 12th circuit on the 2.14-mile, 12-turn road course.

Both Jay Howard Driver Development drivers ended their sessions early, turning only four (Rasmussen) and seven laps (Brichacek).

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at New Jersey Motorsports Park Practice Results

1 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.4936 —— 4
2 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:14.5129 0.0193 14
3 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.5785 0.0849 7
4 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:14.6011 0.1075 18
5 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:14.6327 0.1391 14
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:14.7998 0.3062 7
7 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:14.8302 0.3366 10
8 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:15.1194 0.6258 16
9 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:15.3677 0.8741 16
10 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:15.4754 0.9818 15

The middle rung of the Road To Indy is back on track for qualifying at 1 pm.

Porto and DEForce Racing quick in USF2000 practice at New Jersey Motorsports Park


Kiko Porto on track at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in the Banco Daycoval/Petromega sponsored No. 12 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Championship leader Kiko Porto started the penultimate Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship weekend as the quickest of the 23 entries at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. The DEForce Racing veteran and Brazilain turned in a lap of 78.1749 seconds to lead the first and only practice session.

Leading the opening practice doesn’t always equate to success, with only one driver that lead practice in the first six events winning on that same weekend.

Joining Porto at the top of the practice timesheet were his DEForce Racing teammate Nolan Siegel and Prescott Campbell, who went second and fourth quickest.

Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) was the third quickest driver, while Turn 3 Motorsport rookie Christian Weir went fifth quick.

Porto’s closest championship contender, Cape Motorsports veteran, was the sixth quickest in practice, almost a half-second slower than Porto.

The early part of the lone thirty-minute practice session was dominated by those DEForce Racing drivers, who, at one point, held the top three spots.

After 16-minutes of action, the red flag came out for Exclusive Autosport rookie Billy Frazer, who had just turned the seventh quickest lap of the session on his eighth lap of the day. The team reported that it was light contact and that the Kiwi was uninjured.

At that point in the 30-minute session, the quickest driver was championship leader, Porto, with a lap timed at 78.1749 seconds. Porto was joined in the top ten by Siegel, Brooks, Campbell, Weir, d’Orlando, Frazer, Kohlbecker, Garg, and Sundaramoorthy.

The green flag came back out with six minutes remaining, with the track quickly packed with the 23-entries taking the opportunity to work on their cars one more time.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at New Jersey Motorsports Park Practice Results

1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:18.1749 —- 11
2 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:18.2804 0.1055 12
3 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:18.4323 0.2574 15
4 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:18.6017 0.4268 12
5 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.6153 0.4404 13
6 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:18.6571 0.4822 16
7 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.9648 0.7899 12
8 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:19.0313 0.8564 8
9 5 Spike Kohlbecker Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:19.0420 0.8671 15
10 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:19.0625 0.8876 12
11 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:19.0638 0.8889 16
12 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:19.1313 0.9564 15
13 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:19.2733 1.0984 14
14 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports 1:19.3047 1.1298 16
15 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:19.3754 1.2005 16
16 3 Evan Stamer Ignite Autosports w/Cape Motorsports 1:19.5187 1.3438 15
17 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:19.7470 1.5721 9
18 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:19.7772 1.6023 11
19 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:19.8100 1.6351 13
20 42 Michael Myers Michael Myers Racing 1:20.1001 1.9252 14
21 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:20.1263 1.9514 13
22 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:20.1929 2.0180 16
23 20 Nathan Byrd Legacy Autosport 1:22.3080 4.1331 12

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track for qualifying at 10:15 am.

Championship preview as USF2000 heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park

Championship leader Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing) on the right and his closest competitor Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) on the right share a toast on the podium at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship championship leader, DEForce Racing sophomore Kiko Porto, has had a long 53-day summer break to think about the final five races in the chase for the $401,305 scholarship and a seat in Indy Pro 2000.

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires turned their last competitive laps on Independence Day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where Porto and Cape Motorsports veteran Michael d’Orlando separated themselves from their competitors.

Porto grabbed the championship lead after a wire-to-wire victory at Road America five races ago, slowly building his lead with breathtaking qualifying pace and steady race efforts.

In the next five races, he has scored 127 points, the most of any driver during the same time frame, leaving him with a 19 point lead over d’Orlando as the series heads to the Garden State for a triple header at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points scored over the last five races.

1 Kiko Porto 127
2 Michael d’Orlando 114
3 Simon Sikes 109
4 Thomas Nepveu – r 78
5 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 69
6 Jace Denmark – r 69
7 Josh Pierson 66
8 Spike Kohlbecker – r 63
9 Matthew Round-Garrido 57
10 Christian Brooks 56
11 Josh Green 54
12 Nolan Siegel 54
13 Billy Frazer – r 48
14 Bijoy Garg 35
15 Peter Vodanovich – r 31
16 Evan Stamer – r 25
17 Dylan Christie – r 21
18 Prescott Campbell 20
19 Myles Rowe – r 19
20 Ely Navarro – r 18
21 Jackson Lee – r 17
22 Trey Burke – r 14
23 Michael Myers 13
24 Kent Vaccaro – r 13
25 Erik Evans – r 11
26 Christian Weir 7
27 Nathan Byrd – r 3
28 Chase Hyland – r 3

The 2.25-mile, 12-turn Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park road course will play host to the penultimate round of the USF2000 Championship for the second year in a row.

The 20-lap Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix trio will be the sixth, seventh, and eighth races held at the Millville, N.J. circuit.

Porto’s championship lead over d’Orlando comes down to his consistency and avoiding catastrophic finishes.

d’Orlando, a 19-year-old, and Porto have three wins apiece, but the Hartsdale, N.Y. driver leads Porto in the podium and laps led categories. The 19 point difference between the two drivers comes from two spots.

First, Porto has a six marker advantage in bonus points scored. Drivers are awarded one bonus point for winning the pole, leading the most laps, and turning the quickest lap in the race.

2021 USF2000 Bonus Points Scored

1 Kiko Porto 11
2 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 9
T3 Michael d’Orlando 5
T3 Christian Brooks 5
5 Nolan Siegel 3
6 Prescott Campbell 2
T7 Thomas Nepveu 1
T7 Jackson Lee 1
T7 Peter Vodanovich 1
T7 Simon Sikes 1

Second, Porto has avoided finishes that result in single-digit points. That means finishes of 12th or worse. The Brazilian points leader’s worst finish came in the first race of the season, a tenth place way back in April at Barber Motorsports Park. Porto’s current streak of eight top-fives has allowed him to maintain the points lead.

Unfortunately for d’Orlando, he finished 23rd in Race #1 in St. Petersburg, Fla. and 20th in Race #2 at Road America, scoring only a single point in each race.

d’Orlando does have a slight advantage at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finishing third and fourth in races on the same circuit last year, while Porto missed those races due to COVID-19.

The pair of championship front runners finished Friday’s test with the fourth (Porto) and fifth (d’Orlando) quickest times, separated by a slim four-hundredths of a second.

Pabst Racing veteran Yuven Sundaramoorthy is currently third on the USF2000 points table, 51 points behind Porto and 32 points behind d’Orlando.

The University of Wisconsin freshman, who has also stood on the top step of the podium, will need to win races and get a little help from his competitors to move closer to battle for the scholarship.

The 18-year-old led the first test session at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Friday and ended the day second on the combined timesheet, an excellent start to the weekend.

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

Fifteen-year-old Josh Pierson, Sundaramoorthy’s Pabst Racing teammate, begins the weekend 73 points out of the championship lead. That leaves him needing to grab his first win, along with a lot of help from those drivers in front of him.

Pierson has been one of the most consistent drivers on the season, completing every lap so far and not finishing worse than 12th place in a race.

Christian Brooks, a double race winner in St. Petersburg, Fla., and championship leader through four rounds early in the 2021 season needs a summer break refresh and a solid finish to the season.

Like Pierson, wins and a whole lot of help from his competitors will be needed to win the championship and the $401,305 scholarship that goes with it.

After an unfortunate disqualification from a second-place finish in the third race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Brooks has struggled with consistency, dropping from first place in the championship down to fifth place on the points table.

The Californian has completed every lap in those races but has struggled in qualifying, starting the last five races – all on natural terrain road course circuits – an average of 14th. Brooks has gained 20 spots over where he qualified in those races, proving that the pilot of the Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44 from the Exclusive Autosport stable still has the racecraft to fight for wins.

Brooks does have USF2000 experience at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finishing the three 2020 races at the same circuit with a fourth, fifth and seventh.

Rookie of the year fight

The battle for the 2021 USF2000 Rookie Of The Year has quietly turned into an entertaining fight between a quartet of teenagers representing three different stables and from three different countries.

Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport w/Cape Motorsports), from St. Louis, Missouri, was the early leader among the newcomers, but a recent spurt by the other drivers has made things much closer. Kohlbecker’s lead over Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), and Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) is one, 17, and 41 points, respectively.

Spike Kohlbecker in the Ignite Autosport/Raceway Gives/Tierpoint sponsored No. 5 during testing at New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

With nine top-ten finishes, St. Louis, Mo. born and bred Kohlbecker has been the most consistent of the rookies, leading that category along with the best average finish of the rookies, which for the top four is as follows:

  • Spike Kohlbecker – 8.2
  • Thomas Nepveu – 8.8
  • Jace Denmark – 10.0
  • Billy Frazer – 11.7

Nepveu is the only rookie to win a race this season, climbing to the top step of the podium at Road America in June. The Cape Motorsports driver also leads all rookies with three top-five finishes.

“This tripleheader weekend is an important one for me as I hope for three good results to improve my position in the Rookie of the Year championship standing,” said the 17-year-old Quebecer. “I know the track after a test day at that particular circuit earlier this year, and it’s not an easy task to overtake on this type of layout. We will be up to the challenge!”

Denmark, a 17-year-old from Phoneix, Arizona, has been the most consistent driver since May. The pilot of the Metal Works Custom Fabrication sponsored No. 23 has six straight top-ten finishes, a streak that began with an impressive third-place finish in the only oval event of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway. That podium is one of only three podiums by a rookie driver in 2021.

Frazer, an 18-year-old Kiwi, has some work to do to catch his fellow rookies, but he is coming off his best weekend in USF2000 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, qualifying in the first four rows of all three races and matching a season-best finish of fourth.

Kohlbecker was the quickest of the rookie in Friday testing at New Jersey Motorsports Park, giving him a slight edge heading into Saturday and Sunday.

The quickest driver in Friday testing was Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore Josh Green, who would love to cap off his season with several trips to the podium. Green is part of a battle for sixth place in the championship that has five drivers separated by only 17 points.

Josh Green, in the JHG Investment Fund sponsored No. 33 from the Turn 3 Motorsport stable led USF2000 testing at New Jersey Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Saturday, August 28

  • 8am – 8:30am –> Practice
  • 10:15am – 10:45am –> Qualifying #1
  • 2:30pm – 3:15pm –> Race #1 (20 laps)

Sunday, August 29

  • 9am – 9:30am –> Qualifying #2
  • 11:30am – 12:15pm –> Race #2 (20 laps)
  • 2:30pm – 3:15pm –> Race #3 (20 laps)

McElrea completes Indy Pro 2000 test/practice/warm-up trifecta, plus qualifying notes

Hunter McElrea and the Giltrap Group/Doric NZ/Miles Advisory Partners sponsored No. 18 Pabst Racing PM-18 on track at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Indy Pro 2000 warm-up got underway at 11:30 am. The sun was shining with an ambient temperature of an already steamy 84F, with a track temperature at 109F.

The 20-minute session was surprisingly busy, with the baker’s dozen drivers completing 335 laps.

Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) completed the practice sweep, turning the quickest lap in testing, practice, and warm-up. His lap speed in Saturday morning warm-up was 139.913 mph.

The entire session was ‘clean and green.’ Pole sitter James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport) was the busiest driver, completing 30 laps of the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval.

Indy Pro 2000 warm-up results

1 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 139.913 25
2 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 139.468 26
3 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 139.070 30
4 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 138.881 22
5 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 138.504 31
6 8 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 137.883 24
7 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 137.677 28
8 55 Reece Gold Juncos Hollinger Racing 137.607 21
9 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 137.283 31
10 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 136.981 23
11 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Hollinger Racing 136.975 22
12 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 136.749 30
13 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Hollinger Racing 136.245 22

The 55 lap Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Oval Challenge will get the green flag at 2:45 pm.

Qualifying notes

  • The fifth driver on track, James Roe, laid down an early two-lap average of 139.081 mph had to wait through eight drivers before celebrating his first career pole with Turn 3 Motorsport team owner Peter Dempsey.

James Roe and the Turn 3 Motorsport crew watch as the final driver – Christian Rasmussen – that could knock him off pole, turns his qualifying laps at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway (Photo Courtesy of TSO Ladder – Steve Wittch)

  • Frost’s previous best start – fifth – came at Lucas Oil Raceway Park, the other oval on the schedule.
  • The pole is the second in Indy Pro 2000 for Turn 3 Motorsport. The team’s first pole came with Danial Frost behind the wheel at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year.
  • Braden Eves will start the race outside the front row, the 2019 USF2000 champion’s sixth front row start of the season.
  • Championship points leader Christian Rasmussen will have some work to do, starting seventh. Unfortunately, that’s the worst starting spot for the reigning USF2000 driver, who started sixth in the first race at Barber Motorsports Park and sixth in the first race at Road America. The Jay Howard Driver Development pilot had his worst two finishes of the season, 13th and tenth in those two races.

Indy Pro 2000 Friday Qualifying results

1 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 139.081
2 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 138.852
3 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 138.103
4 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 138.057
5 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 138.022
6 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 137.022
7 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 137.562
8 8 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 137.024
9 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 136.409
10 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 136.312
11 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 136.090
12 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 135.400
13 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 133.750

Malukas gets oval redemption at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway

David Malukas, a happy winner on the World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway oval is interviewed by NBC Sports Katie Kiel Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Despite winning four Indy Lights races already this season, HMD Motorsports sophomore David Malukas still felt he had one last point to prove. His oval prowess.

Mission accomplished for the 19-year-old, who started from the pole and led every lap on the way to his first trip to the top step of the podium on an oval.

“What a race!, said an ecstatic Malukas. “This means the world to me, coming from a crash in Indy two years ago, then to win my third oval race in the series.

“I’m so happy, that’s the one thing that’s been holding me down and I got it off of me today. I’m sorry that we had to end under yellow but I understand that it was for safety reasons, but I know I deserved this win.

“This field is so competitive, but it blows my mind, the team I have behind me. Coming into the test here a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been on an oval in two years. We struggled but in the end, we found the car we needed just in time for qualifying.”

Championship points leader Kyle Kirkwood had an eventful but successful race, finishing on the Indy Lights podium for the eighth time this season and the 32nd time in 43 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races.

Kirkwood had an 11 point championship lead when the race weekend began; the Floridian’s second-place finish, combined with Malukas’ win, means he still leads after Friday’s race, but by only two points.

Coming home in third in his first career oval race was Benjamin Pedersen, who after the race said:

“I’m so happy to be on the podium after my first ever oval race! I absolutely loved it; I can’t wait to do more. We missed the setup a little bit, which made the first half of the race difficult, but it stabilized from there. The tire wear was a whole new element for me in the race – we’d done a couple of long runs in testing but not in this atmosphere. Lots to learn, like knowing what I want transitioning from qualifying to the race, playing with lines, with roll bars – we’re trying to learn as quickly as possible! We’ll take what we learned from today, and hopefully we can get more tomorrow.”

It’s the Danish rookie’s third podium of the season, and he will start fourth in tomorrow afternoon’s race.

Devlin DeFrancesco, a winner at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway in Indy Pro 2000 last year, moved up from his seventh starting position to finish fourth. The Candian-born Miami resident’s eighth top-five of the 2021 Indy Lights seasons moved him up to fifth in the season long standings.

Alex Peroni, the Carlin rookie, won the Tilton Hard Charger award, finishing fifth after starting ninth.

A front row of Malukas and Kirkwood brought the field to the green flag for the fifth time this season. Malukas won the honor of starting on the inside of the front row for the fourth time in 2021.

David Malukas leads the field into Turn 1 at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway on Lap 1 in the Indy Lights race Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Kirkwood dropped in behind Malukas as they crossed under the green flag to get the 75-lap race underway. The HMD Trucking sponsored No. 79 of Malukas grabbed the lead in Turn 1 and leading the first lap.

Behind the two leaders, Global Racing Group w/HMD drivers Pederson and Lundqvist, who started third and fourth, went side-by-side for the first lap before Lundqvist grabbed the final spot on the podium in Turn 1 on Lap 2.

Back out front, an aggressive Kirkwood took a look at Malukas on the outside of Turn 3, but the rear end of the Road to Indy/Cooper Tires/Construction Contractors Club sponsored No. 28 stepped out as he got on the power just past the apex of the 11-degree banked Turn 2. The Andretti Autosport driver was able to gain control, but the lurid slide cost him momentum, and Lundqvist was able to move to second.

“At the start of the race, I had a really good run on David Malukas, but I was a bit unaware of how the car was, what the balance was and how the conditions were,” explained Malukas. “I knew that if I wanted to capitalize on the position and take over the lead, I had to give it everything I got. It resulted in a pretty big moment between Turns 1 and 2 and I had a big slide on power. Then Linus [Lundqvist] was able to drive around us going into Turn 3, because I lost so much time out of [Turn] 2.”

Oversteer was something the Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport dealt with for the entire race.

Further back, Sowery, Peroni, and DeFrancesco were battling furiously for sixth, seventh and eighth.

Thing settled in out front with Malukas lead over Lundqvist at 1.9 seconds after ten laps. The running order at that point of the race was Malukas, Lundqvist, Kirkwood, Pedersen, Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), Toby Sowery (Juncos Holinger Racing), DeFrancesco, Peroni, Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Hollinger Racing), Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing) and Christian Bogle (Carlin).

On Lap 17, Robb came to pit road, reporting to the crew that he had a gearbox issue. The Juncos Hollinger crew took the engine cover off the Sekady Capital/Goodheart-Firehouse Animal Centers sponsored No. 2, but the problem was terminal.

The next driver to have an issue was Serravalle, who was slow on the front straight with what looked like a right-front tire issue. The Canadian was able to pull the family-run No. 11 to a safe position at the end of pit road, and the 1.25-mile oval remained green.

On Lap 28, the first of two yellow flags came out when the m-start/Kumpf sponsored No. 51 of Sowery came to a stop in the grass on the inside of the track at the exit of Turn 2 with what turned out to be a broken hub on his left front wheel.

Out front, Lundqvist had started to close the gap to Malukas, closing the gap to just over one second when the yellow flag came out.

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team cleared Sowery’s machine, and the green flag came back out to begin Lap 35.

Kirkwood had his second big moment on the race on the restart while attempting to pass Lundqvist for the second spot. In his words:

“On the restart, I had another run on what was second place, Linus, and came around the outside of him coming out of [Turn] 2. He drove us up into the wall, and I made contact with him on the middle of the straight, which almost caused him to spin and gave us damage to our nose.

“That was really the end of the race for us. You can really only make passes early on when you have a run, but once everyone slots in it’s nearly impossible to make any moves.”

Behind the leaders, DeFrancesco got a great restart, making a brave move around his teammate Megennis on the outside of Turn 3 and Turn 4 to gain one more position to sixth.

Devlin DeFrancesco (No. 17) puts pressure on his teammate Robert Megennis (No. 27) in an Indy Lights race at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The following driver to have an issue was Megennis, who became the second driver to have a problem with the right front tire. The New Yorker was able to keep his No. 28 off the wall but was forced to pit road to change the offending tire.

After the excitement of the restart, things out front were stable, with Malukas holding around a one-second lead over Lundqvist.

On Lap 59, the second yellow flag of the race came out. This time it was for second place Lundqvist, who had a tire fail as he turned into Turn 3. The distinctive orange and black No. 26 made heavy right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier.

TSO Ladder caught up with Lundqvist after the incident, and thankfully, he was uninjured. But, unfortunately, the same could not be said for his car. The No. 26 has significant tub damage and is not repairable.

When we left the track, the combined Global Racing Group and HMD Motorsports crew were preparing the No. 59 that Nikita Lastochkin had wheeled this season.

In the interest of safety, Tony Cotman, RTI Competition Director/Indy Lights Race Director, decided to end the race after 66 of the scheduled 75-laps.

Results of Cooper Tires Indy Lights Oval Challenge Of St. Louis Race #1

1 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 66 LAPS
2 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport -0.5636
3 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports -0.9515
4 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport -1.5391
5 5 Alex Peroni Carlin -1.9629
6 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport -2.5944
7 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -2 LAPS
8 7 Christian Bogle Carlin -2 LAPS
9 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports -8 LAPS
10 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing —9 LAPS
11 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Hollinger Racing -40 LAPS
12 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing -49 LAPS

Tire issues

In response to the issues with the tires, the Indy Lights series announced some changes for Saturday’s 5:30 pm Cooper Tires Indy Lights Oval Challenge Of St. Louis.

The distance of the race will be 70 laps (87.5 miles) instead of 75 laps (93.75 miles). At that point, the starter will show the yellow and then the red flag.

The drivers will wheel their cars into pit road and to the attention of their crews, where at a minimum, they will change the right-side tires provided by Cooper Tires. If only changing right-side tires, the driver will hold their position when the yellow flag came out. A team is permitted to change all four tires, but that will necessitate starting from the back of the field.

No other changes to the IL-15s will be permitted.

The new tires provided to the teams must be used at speed in the 2:05 pm warm-up for a minimum of three laps.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points standings after 13 of 20 races

1 Kyle Kirkwood – r Andretti Autosport 328
2 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 326
3 Linus Lundqvist – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 283
4 Danial Frost – r Andretti Autosport 227
5 Devlin DeFrancesco – r Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 219
6 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 216
7 Benjamin Pedersen – r Global Racing Group w/HMD 212
8 Alex Peroni – r Carlin 205
9 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 204
10 Sting Ray Robb – r Juncos Racing 154
11 Christian Bogle – r Carlin 145
12 Antonio Serravalle – r Pserra Racing 143
13 Nikita Lastochkin – r HMD Motorsports 123


Lundqvist, Malukas, Global Racing Group & HMD Motorsports strong in Indy Lights practice

Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports pilot Linus Lundqvist in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires paddock at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Linus Lundqvist, the 22-year-old Global Racing Group w/HMD pilot, led his career oval event’s lone 45-minute practice session at the World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway.

The Swede was joined in the top three by his Global Racing Group/HMD Motorsports teammates David Malukas and Benjamin Pedersen.

The top seven drivers were within 1.2 mph of leader Lundqvist.

With 15 of the 45-minutes complete, championship contender Malukas was the quickest of the 12 drivers.

Lundqvist, Malukas, Pedersen, Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport), and Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) all spent time at the top of the timing screens in a session that saw one yellow flag period for a track inspection.

Teams mounted fresh Cooper Tires for their drivers in the final five minutes of the practice, and the pilots all completed qualifying simulations.

On Thursday, the series completed a pair of 60-minute test sessions. DeFrancesco led the first session and his teammate Kirkwood led the second session and the combined timesheet.

The top level of the Road To Indy will be back on track for qualifying at 3 pm.

Qualifying for the twin-bill will consist of two laps. The first lap will set the grid for this evening’s race, while the second lap will set the grid for Saturday’s race.

Results of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires practice #1

1 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 159.270 47
2 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 158.979 44
3 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 158.610 40
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 158.319 32
5 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 158.163 25
6 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 158.091 26
7 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 158.020 23
8 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Hollinger Racing 156.462 37
9 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 156.449 30
10 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 155.268 39
11 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 154.454 42
12 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing 153.859 25
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