Archives for 2022 USF2000 Coverage

Alex Quinn, VRD Complete IMS Road Course Weekend Sweep for USF2000

#17: Alex Quinn, Velocity Racing Development, VRD/Arden Motorsport. Photo courtesy Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

After five relatively hectic Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races Friday and early Saturday at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship delivered a calm affair for Round 7 of its season and race three of the weekend.

Just as in the first two races, we had the same winner: Alex Quinn, driving the No. 17 Velocity Racing Development (with Arden) Tatuus USF-22. The Englishman completed a debut weekend sweep (race one recap here, race two recap here), and on this occasion beat Michael d’Orlando by 2.2187 of a second. D’Orlando’s Cape Motorsports teammate Jagger Jones, who started on the pole, finished third. 

The field immediately went to green at 11:19 a.m. ET after a single pace lap. Quinn made it past Jones on the outside of Turn 1 and inside of Turn 2 to move into the lead. Frazer was a big mover a little further down the field, up three spots from 10th to seventh. 

There was contact at Turn 1, with Jackson Lee knocked into a spin. He had climbed three spots to 13th before contact from Dylan Christie. Lee resumed but fell down the order. 

On Lap 5, d’Orlando made it past Jones for second but the order stabilized throughout the rest of the 23-car field. 

By Lap 10 with 5 to go, Quinn led d’Orlando by 2.345 seconds, with Jones, Denmark and Nepveu in the top five. Rowe was sixth ahead of Sikes, Frazer, Garg and Kohlbecker.

The race ran to its 15-lap conclusion with some minor changes in the bottom portion of the top-10. 

USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Race #3 Unofficial Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 17 Alex Quinn Velocity Racing Development 15 LAP 15
2 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 15 2.2187
3 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 15 2.6928
4 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 15 8.3080
5 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 15 8.7468
6 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 15 13.0387
7 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 15 17.6304
8 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 15 17.9316
9 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 15 18.9605
10 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 15 19.2950
11 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 15 21.1877
12 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 15 23.0896
13 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 15 23.0929
14 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 15 26.4650
15 6 Frankie Mossman Jay Howard Driver Development 15 31.4935
16 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 15 32.8686
17 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 15 34.2510
18 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 15 38.3132
19 13 Chase Gardner DEForce Racing 15 42.0046
20 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 15 45.1663
21 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 15 55.7117
22 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 15 59.6480
23 91 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport DNS

Alex Quinn Doubles Up in USF2000 after Cape Teammates Collide in IMS Race 2

#17: Alex Quinn, Velocity Racing Development, VRD/Arden Motorsport. Photo courtesy Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

The early theme of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires May 2022 weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course has been contact between teammates.

That story line continued Saturday morning with the sixth round of the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season, as two Cape Motorsports teammates collided when battling for the win and opened the door for Alex Quinn and Velocity Racing Development to snatch a surprise second straight victory.

Michael d’Orlando led Jagger Jones for most of the 15-lap race, before Jones’ run of momentum ended in tears heading into Turn 1 on Lap 13. He locked up and hit d’Orlando, which opened the door for Quinn to scythe through.

“I had my engineer Dan on the radio counting me down the laps. I saw them getting closer and closer and I thought something was going to happen! Something did happen and I pounced through. It might have been close in the last two laps, though! Now the pressure is on to go three-for-three,” Quinn said on the podium.

The 23-car field got going smoothly just after 8:05 a.m. ET and made it through the opening few corners safely. D’Orlando went around Quinn for second behind polesitter Jones, while a little further back Denmark overcooked his braking and went into the runoff. A full-course caution flew on Lap 2 for Yeoroo Lee stopped on course.

The field went back to green at the end of Lap 4 and start of Lap 5 with Jones leading d’Orlando in a Cape 1-2. D’Orlando went for it with a big run on the outside, and completed the pass by the end of the front straight. Nepveu went off at Turn 1 following contact with Rowe in the middle and Quinn on the inside and resumed, but fell from P5 down the order.

Weir and Sikes had contact when scrapping over eighth, and that sent Weir to pit lane and out of a good position.

Things almost got hairy on Lap 12 with Jones trying on d’Orlando into Turn 1 and Quinn having a front-row seat to the eventual proceedings.

And then they did get hairy on unlucky Lap 13 when the two teammates collided battling for the lead. Jones got a huge run on d’Orlando, and didn’t get the car stopped in time. His nose knocked into d’Orlando’s rear wing and spun him out. Jones was able to get moving, while d’Orlando had to go to the cutoff and fell to seventh.

Alas, Jones’ slight demise opened the door for Exclusive Autosport’s Frazer, and then Pabst Racing’s Rowe who attempted to double them both up. Frazer and Rowe made it through for second and third into Turn 1 past Jones, and then Denmark got around Jones for fourth on the exit of Turn 4. Jones pitted at the end of Lap 14.

While Jones fell out of the top 15, d’Orlando was able to recover to fifth and salvage a result after a difficult Friday.

But up front it was Quinn able to secure his second straight win by 3.4115 of a second over Frazer with Rowe third and Denmark fourth.

Unofficially Frazer now leads the points with 117, while Rowe is now second at 112, with Jones down to third at 108 and d’Orlando staying close in fourth at 105.

The third race of the tripleheader weekend occurs in a couple hours at 11:15 a.m. ET.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Race #2 Unofficial Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 17 Alex Quinn Velocity Racing Development 15 LAP 15
2 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 15 3.4115
3 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 15 3.7167
4 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 15 4.2312
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 15 6.9970
6 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 15 7.7759
7 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 15 8.5494
8 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 15 9.5757
9 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 15 10.1915
10 13 Chase Gardner DEForce Racing 15 10.6149
11 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 15 10.9749
12 91 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport 15 11.8428
13 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 15 13.4587
14 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 15 16.8559
15 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 15 17.7294
16 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 15 19.1436
17 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 15 22.9876
18 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 15 38.7422
19 6 Frankie Mossman Jay Howard Driver Development 14 In Pit
20 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 14 In Pit
21 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 13 14.9714
22 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 7 Mechanical
23 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development Mechanical

Alex Quinn captures debut win in USF2000 first race of weekend on IMS Road Course

#17: Alex Quinn, Velocity Racing Development, VRD/Arden Motorsport. Photo courtesy Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno and Patrick Stephan

Series newcomer Alex Quinn scored a victory on debut in Friday’s fifth round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The win is also the first for Velocity Racing Development in the championship.

Driving the No. 17 Tatuus USF-22, Quinn survived the chaos that unfolded around him involving several championship contenders in what could be an intriguing weekend.

The 15-lap race featured multiple caution flags and multiple incidents, with Billy Frazer and polesitter Jagger Jones able to push on while the trio of Jace Denmark, Myles Rowe and Michael d’Orlando all finished 15th or worse.

Quinn captured the flag by the margin of victory by 2.1657 of a second over Frazer, in his No. 92 Exclusive Autosport entry, with Jones finishing same as his car number, third, in the No. 3 Cape Motorsports car.

“To be honest, that was the most fun I’ve had in a race car,” Quinn said on the podium.

“Got on the track and immediately had a great car. The team has done a great job. They (Velocity Racing Development & Arden) got me over here and provided me with the perfect car, so I’m extremely happy for that, and extremely happy for the win.”

How did he get there?

Jagger Jones led the field to green with all 23 cars tightly bunched along the inside wall as they went under the green flag.

Jones moved over to about the third lane and made a clean entry to Turn 1, while further back the field was fanned out 4-5 wide. They would get through Turn 1 cleanly, but contact as they took the green had dislodged Nicky Hays’ front wing and we went full course yellow  so they could pick up his main plane from the front straight.

On the restart to complete Lap 2, Jones would lose the lead over at the entry to Turn 7 as Myles Rowe dove inside and took the top spot.  Alex Quinn would also get by Jones in the next couple corners. As they took the green, Jackson Lee came down pit lane, also with front wing damage from the initial start, and he would lose a lap making repairs.

Two laps later, Quinn would brake late inside of Rowe entering Turn 1 and with both of them sliding a little wide, Jones as able to do the over/under on Rowe and get back to the lead on the outside of Turn 2, completing the pass at the entry to Turn 3.

A lap after this – Lap 6 – Myles Rowe and Michael d’Orlando (the championship leaders) make contact with d’Orlando winding up in the gravel trap outside of Turn 4.  There was also contact at Turn 6 as Simon Sikes got into a car (not sure who at this time).

This got us another full course yellow as d’Orlando would come back to the pits on the wrecker, while Rowe was able to get restarted, but lost a lap.

The restart occurred at the end of Lap 9 and start of Lap 10, with Jones leading Quinn, Frazer, Nepveu and Kohlbecker. Things got hairy with a four-wide restart going into Turn 1, with Quinn emerging back ahead at the end of the chaotic restart, and another full-course caution occurring shortly thereafter when Bijoy Gorg stopped on track on Hulman Blvd. He had been running seventh.

The final restart came at the end of Lap 12, with Quinn getting a great jump. Frazer got a great draft off Jones’ rear wing and went around the outside of him for second into Turn 1.

When Jones tried the rebuttal on the final lap, the two cars collided but kept moving, with Frazer able to keep the position. The two stayed in position but behind Quinn.

“I kinda got hurt by all the cautions and they were able to draft up and then it was who could brake deeper,” Jones explained.

This result provisionally moves Jones to the points lead, now up by 7 on Frazer (102-95) heading to the second and third races of the weekend on Saturday. Rowe falls to third on 90 with d’Orlando fourth on 87. There’s a further 11 points back to Denmark in fifth, one point ahead of Simon Sikes in sixth and two ahead of Christian Weir in seventh.

“I have never thought about the championship while on the track, just trying to get the best result. Today, a win was the best result, but I didn’t do my part,” Jones said.

USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Race #1 Unofficial Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 17 Alex Quinn Velocity Racing Development 15 LAP 15
2 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 15 2.1657
3 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 15 2.4392
4 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 15 3.6323
5 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 15 3.7886
6 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 15 4.3180
7 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 15 5.4113
8 6 Frankie Mossman Jay Howard Driver Development 15 5.9011
9 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 15 6.5776
10 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 15 6.6259
11 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 15 7.2075
12 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 15 7.3296
13 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 15 7.6312
14 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 15 40.0348
15 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 15 40.4608
16 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 14 1 LAPS
17 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 14 1 LAPS
18 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 14 1 LAPS
19 13 Chase Gardner DEForce Racing 11 4 LAPS
20 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 9 Off Course
21 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 5 Off Course
22 91 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport DNS
23 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development DNS

It’s a Jones pole at Indianapolis – Jagger Jones scores first USF2000 pole to kick off IMS road course tripleheader

#3: Jagger Jones, Cape Motorsports. Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Tony DiZinno

Heading into the weekend, just 16 points separate the top five drivers in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe, following a heavy accident in practice at St. Petersburg that has threatened to jeopardize his season, has fought back with two impressive wins in St. Pete race two and Barber race one that puts him atop the charts, tied with Cape Motorsports’ Michael d’Orlando.

Barber race two winner Jagger Jones, one of d’Orlando’s Cape teammates, sits third at eight points back (86-78) with Pabst’s Jace Denmark, the St. Pete race one winner and Exclusive’s Billy Frazer a further eight back tied for fourth.

There was a surprise in Thursday’s lone practice session. Series newcomer Alex Quinn led the way for Velocity Racing Development. The driver of the No. 17 Tatuus USF-22 lapped the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course at 1:26.6463, with Jones second, d’Orlando third, Frazer fourth and Viktor Andersson fifth. Rowe and Denmark were seventh and ninth, respectively. 

Quinn is one of a handful of USF2000 newcomers this weekend in the now 23-car field. The Englishman’s VRD entry is a partnership with European team Arden. Other newcomers include Exclusive’s Joey Brienza, DEForce Racing’s Chase Gardner and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Frankie Mossman.

Qualifying kicked off Friday’s track activity from IMS. Denmark was the first driver in the 1:25 bracket at 1:25.914 seven minutes into the 20-minute session. Quinn surpassed that at 1:25.773 before a red flag flew nine minutes into the session for Jorge Garciarce stopped off course at Turn 7.

The order at this red flag was Quinn, Denmark, d’Orlando, Jones and Thomas Nepveu in the top five. Rowe stood 11th, albeit only 0.597 off Quinn’s fastest time. Teams took the opportunity to change to fresh sets of Cooper Tires under this red flag.

Times started to fall under the seven-minute mark remaining in the session. First d’Orlando, then Nepveu and Jones surpassed Quinn’s provisional pole lap. 

There were no further changes in the top five, with Jones securing his maiden USF2000 pole a race after winning his first race. 

Jagger’s grandfather, the great Parnelli Jones, won a pair of Indianapolis 500 poles in 1962 and 1963, and he followed the latter pole with his lone ‘500 victory in 1963. 

Quinn will start second for his USF2000 debut ahead of Nepveu, Denmark and d’Orlando in the top five. Rowe starts seventh, a spot behind Bijoy Garg. Simon Sikes, Joey Brienza and Billy Frazer complete the top 10.

Drivers will take the green flag for Round 5 of the season, the first of three USF2000 races this weekend, at 11:45 a.m. ET and local time. 

USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Qualifying Results

P No Name Team FTime Diff
1 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1:25.4254 1:25.4254
2 17 Alex Quinn Velocity Racing Development 1:25.4910 0.0656
3 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 1:25.5169 0.0915
4 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:25.5500 0.1246
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:25.6898 0.2644
6 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1:25.8164 0.3910
7 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 1:25.8174 0.3920
8 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:25.8652 0.4398
9 91 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport 1:25.9057 0.4803
10 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:25.9945 0.5691
11 13 Chase Gardner DEForce Racing 1:26.0771 0.6517
12 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 1:26.0838 0.6584
13 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 1:26.1216 0.6962
14 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:26.1368 0.7114
15 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 1:26.1560 0.7306
16 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:26.1715 0.7461
17 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 1:26.2077 0.7823
18 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 1:26.2253 0.7999
19 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1:26.2816 0.8562
20 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.3871 0.9617
21 6 Frankie Mossman Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.8917 1.4663
22 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:27.2405 1.8151
23 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 1:28.4680 3.0426

Jagger Jones grabs USF2000 win in only his 4th career open wheel start – d’Orlando and Rowe tied for championship lead

Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports) celebrates his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship win at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Jagger Jones, a third-generation racer in only his fourth open-wheel start, drove like anything but a newcomer on the way to his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory.

The Cape Motorsports rookie used a daring outside pass to take the lead and then drove a nearly perfect race under challenging conditions to reach the top step of the podium.

“But Sunday proved that we’d had the pace all weekend, and we finally did it,” exclaimed a thrilled Jones after getting out of the car. “That’s what it came down to; me putting it all together – getting a good start and getting into the lead. I made sure to make no mistakes.

“Lap one was pretty crazy. The track had been soaking wet when we headed for the false grid but it was much drier than we thought it would be once we got out on track. I realized that on the pace laps and at the green flag, the guys in front checked up super early, so I made a move around the outside in turns two and three and was out in front by turn five – basically, I repeated the move from Saturday but made it work this time. The Cape brothers gave me such a good car: all I had to do was hit my marks, keep it on track, and not do anything extravagant. And that’s what got me to victory lane. Just so happy to get my first series win, hopefully, more to come.”

Jones, the grandson of legend Parnelli Jones, has four consecutive top tens to start the season and is now third in points, only 8 out of the championship lead.

The win is the seventh for Cape Motorsports at the park-like Barber Motorsports Park. Jones joins Oliver Askew (two wins), Nico Jamin (one win), Aaron Telitz (one win), and Parker Thompson (two wins) as drivers that have brought the Cape brothers to victory lane in Alabama.

His veteran Cape Motorsports teammate, Michael d’Orlando, hounded Jones throughout the 17-lap race, finishing second, his fourth consecutive top-five finish to start the season.

The trip to the podium was his 15th in USF2000 for the driver of the Focused Project Management sponsored No.2

The 20-year-old’s consistent start means he enters the second quarter of the 2022 season tied for the points lead with Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) in the chase for the $400,000+ advancement scholarship.

After the one-two finishes on Sunday, drivers representing the Dominic and Nicholas Cape run squad have a baker’s dozen trips to the podium at Barber Motorsports Park.

With the grip level unknown on the damp surface, pole-sitter and Turn 3 Motorsport pilot Christian Weir was understandably cautious through the first few turns, losing a pair of spots to the drivers that started behind the front row.

The 15-year-old settled in and grabbed his first career USF2000 podium in only his 12th race, an impressive feat for a driver who suffered a spinal compression fracture less than six months ago.

“It was a weekend of firsts for me,” said Weir. “The first race of the weekend was good. We were able to stay out of trouble, move forward, and gain experience going into the second race. What a great feeling it was to get my first pole position in Qualifying 2! I knew starting Race 2 from the front was going to be tough, and I think if I was able to avoid the contact on the opening lap, we could have scored our first win, but I’m so happy to come out of the weekend with my first podium in USF2000. I can’t wait to try and carry this momentum into Indy in just a couple of weeks. On to the next one!”

Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport) on track in the EComfort.com/Ferguson/ProFlow sponsored No. 32 during a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Turn 3 Motorsport is the 11th different team to score a podium at Barber Motorsports Park. Additionally, it’s the third series podium for the Mundelein, Ill. squad.

Saturday’s winner Myles Rowe also lost a pair of spots on the opening lap but could withstand 16 laps of constant harassment from Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing) and Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), bringing the Penske Entertainment sponsored No. 23 home in the fourth spot. Rowe’s fourth-place finish is his first top-five, which wasn’t a win.

If Rowe, who is tied for the points lead, doesn’t find some more sponsorship or funding, his season ended on Sunday. Here is his gofundme if you would like to help out –> https://www.gofundme.com/f/road-to-indy

Sikes’s solid start to the season continued on Sunday. The Georgian and his single-car Legacy Autosport team have finished fifth in three of four races.

“We ended up in the same spot as yesterday; we finished fifth,” said the 21-year-old Sikes. “I was a little happier with today’s performance; no mistakes on my end. It was a tough start. We got stuck in a lane that ended up not being the right lane for Turn 2. A couple of people on the outside managed to get by.

“It’s a really tough track to pass on. I fell to sixth place, but I made a really nice move on the outside of a car (Thomas Nepveu) in the second last corner (Turn 16) to make it up to fifth place.

The Legacy Autosport boys put a fast car out on track. I felt we were the fastest car out there and had really good pace.

“Unfortunately, at Barber Motorsports Park, you get a lot of aero-wash, and it really hinders the passing. It’s hard to get close to the car in front of you. I stayed in contact and made a couple of attempts at passing the car in front, but we ended up in fifth. So I’m not too disappointed in that. It was a solid points weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next one in two weeks.”

The 17-lap race featured 48 passes for position. Dylan Christie (DEForce Racing), who had an impressive commentary debut during Friday’s USF Juniors race, was the biggest mover, gaining five spots to finish eighth.

After a long delay for weather, the call to fire the engines for the 25-minute timed race came at 11:10 am, and after two pace laps – with the second yellow flag lap counting – behind the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires safety car, the front row of first-time pole sitter Weir and Race #1 winner Rowe brought the field to the green flag.

From Naperville, Ill, Weir led through the first four corners before giving up the lead to an aggressive Jones, who went around the outside of the EComfort.com/Ferguson/ProFlow sponsored No. 32 in Turn 5.

Weir, d’Orlando, and Myles were three-wide on the run down to the tricky museum complex of Turn 8 and 9. Veteran d’Orlando had the preferred inside line, grabbing the second spot with a clean pass.

The running order after the first green flag lap was Jones, d’Orlando, Weir, Rowe, Nepveu, Sikes, Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport), Christie, Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport), Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing), Jackson Lee (Cape Motorsports), Jorge Garciarce (Jay Howard Driver Development), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports with Curb/Agajanian), Viktor Andersson (Velocity Racing Development), Danny Dyszelski (Jay Howard Driver Development), Yeeroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development) and pit road bound Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport).

After finishing in second place in Race #1, Frazer in the deep red colored Corpay Cross-Border Solutions No. 92 had a less fulfilling experience in Sunday’s Race. The Kiwi, who is traveling the USA this season in a travel trailer with his dad, pinballed off other cars in Turn 8 and Turn 9, losing his front wing.

The 19-year-old entered the race only two markers out of the points lead, but the pit stop and lack of yellows resulted in a 17th place finish, dropping him to fifth in points. In the clean air, Frazer was able to turn the quickest lap of the race, earning a crucial bonus point.

“We were definitely fast this weekend,” said Frazer. “Unfortunately, Race 2 didn’t quite go to plan., as I was hit on the opening lap, damaging my front wing; causing an unscheduled pit stop to change it. I pushed on with a damaged car, setting the fastest lap of the race. However, no safety car periods meant I couldn’t catch the pack. Proud of the way we didn’t give up. The luck will change and we will finish where we deserve at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in two weeks. Many thanks to the Exclusive Autosport crew, Giltrap Group and Corpay.”

On the second green flag lap, Jackson Lee made a spectacular three-wide pass of Garg and Kohlbecker into the fast left-hand Turn 1, moving to 11th after losing three spots on the start. The Cape Motorsports sophomore would gain two more spots, moving to 9th.

“Sunday morning was tough, with the changing conditions, but the Cape boys did a great job to insure we had the best possible scenario,” said the pilot of the IU Cancer Center/Browning Chapman/Spruce sponsored No. 2. “Unfortunately, the track was very green, with not much grip, so it was tough to pass. I tried to force the guys ahead into mistakes, but it just didn’t happen.”

After seven laps of action, with 14-minutes remaining on the clock, there was a consistent gap between the top four, with Rowe in fourth, 3.1 seconds behind the leader.

Hays, who had moved up to seventh from his 11th starting spot, went wide in Turn 1, allowing Denmark and Douglas past him. The Californian recovered well, regaining those spots to finish seventh, the rookie’s best career finish and third straight top ten.

Jones’ lead over his veteran teammate is 1.3 seconds with ten remaining minutes and ten laps in the books.

With six minutes remaining, newcomer Dyszelski in the Formula Imports/Charlotte Mechanical No. 8 has an issue in Turn 3 and briefly stops between Turn 4 and Turn 5.

The Jay Howard Driver Development driver can pull away on his own just as the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team pulls up.

“Barber was a great learning opportunity for me,” said the just turned 14-year-old Dyszelski, who was making his first start in cars . “Between the increased competition levels and hanging out around the IndyCar paddock, I was able to learn so much from the competitors. We had struggles on track, but avoided any damage which was the ultimate goal of my first weekend. I’m excited to get back behind the wheel in Indianapolis in two weeks and improve my performance!”

The yellow flag did fly for a half-lap, bunching the field back up and testing newbie Jones’ restart skills.

The green flag came back out with four minutes remaining.

Jones got a good jump coming as they streamed downhill in Turn 1. After the front two, however, the battling for position in the top 10 was fast and furious as the gaggle of USF-21s rushed towards Charlotte’s Web (Turn 5).

Sikes in the recognizable royal blue and bright orange Metalloid/Sturgis Finishing/Group6Gear sponsored No. 19 made a late move to the inside of Rowe, but the Race #1 winner was able to hold off the 2020 F1600 Series champion.

Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe (front) battles with Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport) during a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

On the next lap, Sikes made the same move on Rowe in Turn 5; again, the Pace University senior held him off,  remaining in fourth place.

Behind that battle in the same corner, Douglas got to the inside of Denmark in the struggle for seventh, with the Kiwi’s No. 90 making contact with the Metal Works Custom Fabrication No. 23 spinning in front of the remainder of the field.

The Arizonan tied for the points lead with his teammate Rowe continued in his damaged race car, finishing two laps down and dropping into a tie for fourth on the points table.

Douglas crossed the finished line in eighth, which would have been the 16-year-olds first American top ten, but after the race, he was penalized 30-seconds for avoidable contract, dropping him to the 16th finishing spot.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama Race #2 results

RANK CAR. NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 17 LAPS
2 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -0.5455
3 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport -1.2888
4 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing -1.8234
5 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -2.0295
6 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing -2.5243
7 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports -4.9989
8 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing -7.0421
9 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports -7.4665
10 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing -7.8192
11 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport -8.0841
12 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development -8.6205
13 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development -8.937
14 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -9.2329
15 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -17.3665
16 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport -36.1016
17 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -52.6995
18 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -2 LAPS
19 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development – 4 LAPS

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points after four rounds.

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL
T1 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 86
T1 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 86
3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 78
T4 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 70
T4 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 70
6 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 63
7 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 58
8 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 55
9 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 53
10 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 46
11 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport 45
T12 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 39
T12 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 39
T12 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 29
T12 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 29
T12 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 29
17 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 26
18 Yeeroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 24
19 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 11
20 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 4

The same teams and drivers are back on track for three races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, starting with practice on May 12, 2022.

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Rowe wins second straight USF2000 race – Frazer and d’Orlando round out the podium

Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) celebrates his USF2000 Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama win with his mom Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

A considerable crowd of friends and family enthusiastically cheered Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) as he drove into victory lane at Barber Motorsports Park. This park-like race track started his desire to become a racer. The win is Rowe’s second straight in 2022 and third overall in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.

The 21-year-old, who calls New York City home, went flag to flag after winning his first pole the day before, becoming the 14th pole sitter in 17 USF2000 races to claim victory.

“It is awesome to win here; I have so much family here – I had no idea so many of them were here,” said a beaming Rowe. “It means so much to me since I saw my first open-wheel race at Barber when I was 16. I remember watching Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves) – they talked to me after the race, and Helio invited me into the transporter. That was such a revolutionary moment for me, and my passion for racing skyrocketed after that. I fell in love with racing more than I thought possible here at Barber, so to win here is so amazing.

“The pressure was on right from the start. I want to apologize to Jagger, and I had no idea he was trying to stick with me on the outside. It was a great pace, great consistency – huge thanks to Pabst Racing for giving me such a great car. Today was all about starting well, keeping it out front, and managing the race from there. I gained a good bit of confidence at St. Pete – being the first race of the year and a street course, you know that if you do well there, you have good adaptability, and you’ll probably do well everywhere. It was good to know the pace was there. It’s just about executing from there.”

The win moves Rowe into a tie for the championship lead with his Pabst Racing teammate Jace Denmark.

The Augie Pabst led Pabst Racing squad from Oconomowoc, Wisc., won for the second time at Barber Motorsports Park and for the 30th time as a USF2000 team.

Pabst Racing now has six podiums at Barber Motorsports Park, including Rinus VeeKay, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES that just won the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Rowe is the eighth pole-sitter in the 11 USF2000 races on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course to drive to victory lane.

After a spectacular pass (see the second half of video in this Instagram post) in the Museum Complex of corners, Exclusive Autosport veteran Billy Frazer finished for the second time this season.

It’s the second time an Exclusive Autosport driver has finished on the podium at Barber Motorsports Park and the 19th career podium for the Brownsburg, Ind. squad with Canadian roots.

The second-place finish leaves Frazer five points from the championship lead heading to Sunday’s race.

Billy Frazer on track at Barber Motorsports Park in his Corpay Cross-Border Solutions No, 92 from the Exclusive Autosport stable Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Frazer’s move was one of 49 passes for position. The Kiwi, along with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Jorge Garciarce were the biggest movers of the race, each finishing four spots ahead of their starting positions.

After a pair of solid fourth-place finishes to begin his USF2000 season, championship hopeful Michael d’Orlando came to Alabama hunting for podiums.

The 20-year-old raced better than he qualified for the third straight race, gaining two spots from his inside third row starting spot and turning the quickest lap in the race for the third time in his USF2000 career.

Cape Motorsports veteran Michael d’Orlando during the USF2000 autograph session at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The driver of the Focused Project Management/UFC Gym sponsored No. 4 now has 14 career USF2000 podiums.

“My start wasn’t terrible, but it could have been way better, explained d’Orlando. “I started on the inside of Row 3, so I wasn’t in the best position. Jagger went, then Billy went around the outside, and I was a sitting duck.

“I made up one position and sat in fourth for most of the race. I was trying to chase them (Sikes and Frazer) down, so I got the fastest race lap, but I focused on being smooth and safe. Simon went off late, and I found myself in P3. I’m super proud of that race, and I’m looking for more tomorrow.”

Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing) continued his solid start to the season, bringing his brilliant blue and white with neon yellow trimmed No. 12 home in the fourth spot, his second top-five in the first three races of the 2022 season.

Despite his late off-track excursion, Legacy Autosport veteran Simon Sikes held onto his second USF2000 top-five of the season and the seventh in his career.

The second caution-free race of the 2020 USF2000 and only second series race with a yellow flag at Barber Motorsports Park resulted in the fastest ever race on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course with an average speed of 99.721mph.

49 passes for position Billy Frazer 6th to 2nd Jorge Garciarce 18th to 14th

Impressively, all 19 starters finished on the lead lap, and the top eight drivers were within 10 seconds of race winner Rowe.

The command to fire the USF2000 engines was given by a guest of Andersen Interior Contracting.

Rowe and Garg led 19 car field to the green flag for the first of two Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama races at Barber Motorsports Park.

The start was slow, with several drivers jumping out of line. Race control announced that the start was under review and eventually penalized Jackson Lee (Cape Motorsports) and Danny Dyszelski (Jay Howard Driver Development) for getting out of line. From Avon, Ind., Lee had the sixth quickest lap of the race but, without a caution, could not use that speed to make up positions.
Rowe got the jump, arriving at Turn 1 before the rest of the field. The first lap was green, but it wasn’t super clean.

Outside front row starter Garg lost a few spots in the Alabama Roller Coaster, while Jones, who started third, attempted an outside pass in Turn 3, running out of room and bouncing through the grass. As a result, the third-generation driver dropped down the running order, barely remaining in the top ten.

The running order after the first lap was Rowe, Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Nicholas d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing), Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Dylan Christie (DEForce Racing), Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport), Viktor Andersson (Velocity Racing Development), Jackson Lee (Cape Motorsports), Danny Dyszelski (Jay Howard Driver Development), Yeeroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports) and Jorge Garciarce (Jay Howard Driver Development).

On Lap 2, Christie had a spin in Turn 8, dropping down the field from ninth to 18th. However, he was able to continue.

Later on the lap, the No. 7 of Yeeroo Lee had an off in Turn 15

Early in the 20-lap race, Rowe was unable to pull away, with Sikes and Frazer within two seconds of the leader.

Rowe’s lead when he crossed under the crossed flags to signify the halfway mark of the race was 1.2 seconds, but there were several terrific battles behind him.

Sikes was driving defensively to hold back Frazer and d’Orlando for second. Also, Hays, Jones, and Kohlbecker were within a second of each other for eighth.

There were still 11 drivers within ten seconds of leader Rowe with five laps remaining.

Rowe had a semi-comfortable 1.1 second lead over Sikes. However, the Legacy Autosport driver was facing heavy pressure from Frazer.

Simon Sikes (No. 19 Legacy Autosport) holding of Billy Frazer (No. 92 Exclusive Autosport) and Michael d’Orlando (No. 4 Cape Motorsports) during the first Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama USF2000 race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The battle between the two came to a head in Turns 8 and 9 on Lap 17. Kiwi Frazer got a better drive off Turn 5. The Metalloid/Sturgis Finishing/Group6Gear sponsored No. 19 of Sikes moved to the right to block the inside run down to Turn 8. The Corpay Cross-Border Solutions sponsored No. 90 made a brave double move, faking to the left before diving back to the right, to give the Kiwi the inside line into Turn 8. Frazer was able to complete the pass while Sikes pushed into the grass at the exit of Turn 9. Sikes also lost spots to d’Orlando and Garg, dropping to fifth.

“Barber has a reputation as a difficult track to pass at, but I think I proved that wrong today,” said the 19-year-old Frazer. “Sixth to second, I’m super proud of myself and of the team.

“I was greedy on the first lap and it almost cost me – we were three-wide for most of it. I went onto the grass on the museum corner, but I kept it together and was able to pressure Simon into a late mistake. We faced adversity earlier in the weekend, in quali two, so I know I have a tough job ahead of me in Race Two tomorrow, but as the guys said on the radio, these are the races that win championships.”

After the 46 miles of racing, Rowe crossed the line 1.7632 seconds ahead of Frazer.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama Race #1 Unofficial Results

RANK CAR. NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 20 LAPS
2 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport -1.7632
3 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -2.3057
4 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing -7.4099
5 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -7.9317
6 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing -9.1071
7 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport -9.9166
8 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports -10.7225
9 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports -11.35
10 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport -12.5246
11 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing -12.8344
12 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport -16.1635
13 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development -16.5913
14 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development -17.3721
15 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing -18.7114
16 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports -24.3967
17 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports -37.196
18 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development -49.775
19 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development -52.197

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points after three rounds.

RANK DRIVER TEAM POINTS
T1 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 67
T1 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 67
3 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 65
4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 61
T5 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 47
T5 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 47
7 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 46
8 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 38
9 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport 35
T10 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 32
T10 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 32
12 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 27
13 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 26
14 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 24
15 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 22
16 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 20
T17 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 18
T17 Yeeroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 18
19 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 11
20 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 2

Myles Rowe grabs his first career pole, completing his personal USF2000 bingo card

The Penske Entertainment sponsored No. 22 of Myles Rowe from the Pabst Racing stable on track at the Barber Motorsports Park during a March test. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

With his first career pole, Myles Rowe completed his USF2000 bingo card. The Pabst Racing sophomore now has a win, a pole, a podium, a race led, and the fastest race lap.

The 21-year-old spent most of the 20-minute Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in the top five on the timesheet but dug deep on his second last qualifying lap to grab his first inside front row starting position with a lap timed at 81.9164-seconds. The New Yorker was the only driver to break the 82-second barrier.

It’s the second USF2000 pole on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course for Pabst Racing. One of the team’s current Indy Pro 2000 drivers, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, won Race #1 from the pole last year.

It’s the second pole of the 2022 season for the Oconomowoc, Wisc. team, and the 31st all-time.

Seven of the ten USF2000 race winners at Barber Motorsports Park have started from the pole, making Rowe the prohibitive favorite to grab his second straight win.

Starting outside Rowe is DEForce Racing veteran Bijoy Garg, who led most of the second half of the session before being knocked off the pole by Rowe. It’s the third straight race to start the season that Garg has just missed on his first series pole. The Californian began from the third and second positions in the two races in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Cape Motorsports rookie Jagger Jones will start on the inside of the second row. The third-generation racer’s best start in his young Road To Indy career. The 19-year-old started in fifth and fourth at the season-opener.

Rounding out the second row is Simon Sikes. The Legacy Autosport driver led the first half of the session before falling just short of the pole in the second half.

Veterans Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports) and Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) will start on the third row and were both within four-tenths of a second of pole winner Rowe.

Fifteen of the 19 drivers were within one second of Rowe’s pole lap.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama qualifying results

RANK CAR. NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE
1 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 1:21.9164
2 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1:22.0412 -0.1248
3 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1:22.0916 -0.1752
4 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:22.1940 -0.2776
5 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:22.2270 -0.3106
6 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:22.2492 -0.3328
7 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 1:22.4765 -0.5601
8 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:22.4782 -0.5618
9 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 1:22.5484 -0.632
10 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 1:22.5817 -0.6653
11 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:22.7082 -0.7918
12 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 1:22.8601 -0.9437
13 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 1:22.8647 -0.9483
14 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 1:22.8812 -0.9648
15 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1:22.9761 -1.0597
16 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:23.2686 -1.3522
17 8 Danny Dyszelski Jay Howard Driver Development 1:23.3820 -1.4656
18 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 1:23.5665 -1.6501
19 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:24.1701 -2.2537

The 19 USF2000 drivers are back on track at 10:15 am for a second qualifying session. The same drivers will be in the Fan Village for an autograph session at 11:30 am, and the first of two races is scheduled to get the green flag at 3:20 pm.

USF2000 points after two races

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL
1 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 57
2 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 40
3 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 38
4 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 35
5 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 35
6 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 29
7 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 28
8 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport 24
9 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 23
10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 23
11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 20
12 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 19
13 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 18
14 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 17
15 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 15
16 Yeeroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 15
17 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 13
18 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 11
19 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 10

Jace Denmark wins wild USF2000 race

The Metal Works Custom Fabrication sponsored No. 23 Pabst Racing machine of Jace Denmark on track in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy)

By Steve Wittich

These are the basic race notes. We’ll update this story this evening.

After a single pace-lap, a pair of 17-year-olds, front row starters Nepveu and Denmark brought the flag to the green flag.

The Canadian got a good jump with his teammate Garg right on his gearbox and looking like he might move to second, but could not out brake Denmark, who held onto second.

The field expertly got cleanly through the first lap with the running order after one circuit of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit as Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing), Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development), Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport), Trey Burke (Joe Dooling Autosports), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Jacob Douglas (Exclusive Autosport), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Frederik Lund (Jay Howard Driver Development), Viktor Andersson (Velocity Racing Development), Yeeroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Jorge Garciarce (Jay Howard Driver Development).

The biggest gainer in the top ten on the first lap was Sikes, who went from eighth to sixth.

Making moves for position on the second lap was Rowe (to fourth), d’Orlando (to sixth), and Kohlbecker (to eighth).

After five laps, Denmark was holding onto the back of Nepveau, trailing by only a half-second. After that, the rest of the field was almost nose-to-tail, with the top 16 all within ten seconds of the leader.

Drivers settled in over the next five laps, with Nepveau holding a 0.6-second lead as they got the crossed flags signifying the halfway point of the 20 lap race. Veteran d’Orlando had the quickest lap of the race at that point.

On Lap 11, Rowe moved into podium position, while his teammate Denmark put immense pressure on Nepveau upfront.

With eight laps remaining, the battles were raging up and down the field, with the top 11 still within ten seconds of the lead.

On Lap 12, Burke put immense pressure on Kohlbecker for eighth and was warned for blocking.

At the head of the field, with five laps remaining, Nepveau was defending for all he was worth, using shallow corner entries to keep Denmark behind him. That battling allowed Rowe, who was 2.5 seconds behind his teammate when he passed Frazer, to move to within one second of his teammate in second. Then, on Lap 14, Rowe turned the race’s quickest lap.

Nepveu went into the final two corners too hot on the second last lap, allowing Denmark to get beside him and grab the lead as the drivers started Lap 19. However, the Pabst Racing sophomore’s time in the lead didn’t last long, as he repaid the favor, getting into Turn 1 hot, getting loose at the exit of the corner, allowing Nepveu and Rowe to get by him.

Rowe quickly put pressure on the leader, getting beside him in the Turn 1 braking zone, getting into the corner first, but running a little wide, allowing Nepveau to get beside Rowe at the corner exit. The pair of drivers went through Turn 2 side-by-side, attempting the same thing in Turn 3. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as the pair of leaders made contact (Rowe’s left front to Nepveau’s right rear), with both slamming the wall hard on the driver’s right.

Thankfully, both drivers could get out of their destroyed cars under their own power.

Somehow, Denmark could navigate his way through the flying debris, taking the lead and promoting Frazer and Garg to the podium.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race #1 Unofficial results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 20 LAPS
2 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 0.8051
3 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1.3243
4 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1.9173
5 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 3.4197
6 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 4.6601
7 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 11.0065
8 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 11.6497
9 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 14.9099
10 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 15.7431
11 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport In Pit
12 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports In Pit
13 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development In Pit
14 6 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 22.8786
15 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 27.0407
16 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 31.7547
17 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing – 1 LAPS
18 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing – 1 LAPS
19 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development – 2 LAPS

DEForce Racing’s Thomas Nepveu grabs pole – eight drivers with 0.1 seconds of pole

Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing) concentrates in the Cromwell/Karting Excellence/Home Hardware sponsored No. 10 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

DEForce Racing veteran Thomas Nepveu led one of the closest Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship qualifying sessions that we remember. The Canadian grabbed his first pole with a lap of 72.7274 seconds, but it was close.

Nepveau pipped Denmark by eight-thousandths of a second, and eight drivers were within a second of the provisional pole.

Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing) and Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) are starting on the second row.

The highest starting rookie is Cape Motorsports’ third-generation rookie, Jagger Jones.

The first qualifying session for the new USF2000 cars got underway at 9:20 am. Like their big brother, the Indy Pro 2000 Series, the 19 drivers had 30 minutes to complete 20 minutes of green flag qualifying.

The sun was shining brightly, the breeze was barely blowing, and the temperature was 72F when qualifying got underway.

d’Orlando set the pace early in the session, leading at the halfway point with a lap at 72.8280 seconds. Fellow veterans Denmark, Nepveu, Kohlbecker, Garg, and Sikes, were within a third of a second of the provisional pole. Jones in ninth was the quickest rookie after ten minutes of running.

Most of the drivers visited pits at the mid-way point of qualifying, with crews making adjustments and bolting on fresh Cooper Tire slicks.

Drivers spent the next five minutes getting their fresh Coopers into the optimal operating temperature for qualifying.

Legacy Autosport veteran Sikes was the first driver to go quicker in the second ten minutes, moved to within a tenth of a second of d’Orlando. Next to go quicker were Nepveu and Jones, who were three-hundredths and six–hundredths quicker, respectively.

With just under three minutes remaining, Denmark grabbed the provisional pole as the timing screens lit up green as drivers continued to get quicker.

Like practice on Thursday, Denmark’s teammate Rowe was less than five-hundredths behind the provisional pole.

A new face jumped to the provisional pole as the checkered flag came out as Nepveu jumped to the top of the timing screens.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg unofficial qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE
1 10 Thomas Nepveu DEForce Racing 1:12.7274 ——
2 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:12.7358 0.0084
3 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1:12.7555 0.0281
4 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 1:12.7769 0.0495
5 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1:12.7800 0.0526
6 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:12.8251 0.0977
7 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:12.8280 0.1006
8 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:12.8398 0.1124
9 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:13.0199 0.2925
10 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 1:13.0689 0.3415
11 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 1:13.0941 0.3667
12 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:13.1541 0.4267
13 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1:13.3963 0.6689
14 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 1:13.3989 0.6715
15 6 Frederik Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.5767 0.8493
16 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 1:13.6986 0.9712
17 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.8006 1.0732
18 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.8818 1.1544
19 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 1:13.9023 1.1749

Pabst Racing leads USF2000 practice in St. Pete

By Steve Wittich

A pair of Pabst Racing drivers, Jace Denmark and Myles Rowe, were separated by a slim five-hundredths of a second at the top of the timing screens during a veteran-heavy Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice session.

The top 11 spots on the timing screens, who were all within a second of Denmark, were all held by USF2000 veterans. Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports) was the quickest rookie, going only two hundredths quicker than his teammate Jagger Jones.

The only red flag of the practice came on rookie Jacob Douglas’ (Exclusive Autosport) out lap when the Kiwi made contact with the Turn 13 barriers.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship field is back on track for qualifying at 9:20 am on Friday.

USF2000 Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg Practice Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE LAPS
1 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:13.6344 1:13.6344 17
2 22 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing 1:13.6893 0.0549 15
3 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:13.7998 0.1654 16
4 12 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing 1:13.8100 0.1756 16
5 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:13.9599 0.3255 17
6 10 Thomas Nepveau DEForce Racing 1:13.9668 0.3324 17
7 33 Spike Kohlbecker Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport 1:14.2549 0.6205 17
8 11 Dylan Christie DEForce Racing 1:14.3338 0.6994 17
9 19 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:14.5753 0.9409 13
10 32 Christian Weir Turn 3 Motorsport 1:14.5938 0.9594 17
11 2 Jackson Lee Cape Motorsports 1:14.7027 1.0683 15
12 5 Nicky Hays Cape Motorsports 1:14.7121 1.0777 15
13 3 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1:14.7329 1.0985 17
14 30 Viktor Andersson Velocity Racing Development 1:15.1207 1.4863 17
15 6 Frederick Lund Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.4011 1.7667 16
16 92 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:15.6467 2.0123 5
17 7 Yeoroo Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.7628 2.1284 17
18 9 Jorge Garciarce Jay Howard Driver Development 1:15.9080 2.2736 17
19 90 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1:21.5490 7.9146 1