Archives for Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires

A storybook beginning to the Indy Pro 2000 season for Parker Thompson and Abel Motorsports

If you could write a storybook beginning for a one-off driver, with a brand new Indy Pro 2000 team, it would parallel the Friday that Abel Motorsports and Parker Thompson had.

The rookie team that had made a quintet of Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts in USF2000 in 2018, and veteran driver broke the qualifying track record, won the first Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products race of the weekend and turned the quickest race lap.

Less than two weeks ago, the 21-year-old was not sure he was going to be able to continue his open-wheel career but was thrown a lifeline when he was able to work out a deal with Abel Motorsports to help them get their season off on the right foot.

Parker Thompson after winning the 1st Indy Pro 2000 race that Abel Motorsports entered (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“This is huge for us, especially since we’re under the pressure of a one-race deal,” said the clearly thankful Red Deer, Alberta, Canada driver. “It’s great to finally stand on the top step of the podium since a win in St. Pete has always eluded me. It’s one of my favorite races and I’m always fast here but somehow I haven’t won it, so my mission is complete. I knew how good the car was; the Abel Motorsports guys gave me a rocket ship. I knew I was faster than Rasmus, though he did a better job at the start, but I worked him over, used my experience and the raw pace of the car to come through with the victory.”

The win is Thompson’s fourth Indy Pro 2000 victory, his 11th Road To Indy win and first trip to victory lane in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Juncos Racing, who has fielded the past two series scholarship winners, started off their season well, placing Rasmus Lindh and Sting Ray Robb on the podium.

The podiums for the pair of 17-year-olds were the 17th and 18th for the Speedway, Ind. based team on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

The seven rows of two came to the start zone, and Thompson was able to get a good jump, with Lindh falling line, before popping late to the outside to surprise Thompson, who had to brake a little earlier on the inside defensive line. The rookie held the preferred inside line going into Turn 2 to grab the lead.

Thompson later told TSO Ladder that he was distracted on the start and early in the race when the caution lights came on in his car for the first three laps of the race.

Thompson was also starting on new Cooper Tire slicks. Lindh told TSO Ladder that was a disadvantage on the first few laps that he knew he had to take advantage of the Canadian’s slick, fresh rubber. Note: those new tires came into play a little later on in the race

At the end of the first lap, the running order was Lindh, Thompson, Robb, Moisés de la Vara (Exclusive Autosport), Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport), Nikia Lastochkin (Exclusive Autosport), Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport), Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), Phillippe Denes (Fatboy Racing!), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Parker Locke (Exclusive Autosport), Damiano Fioravanti (RP Motorsport) and Charles Finelli (Fatboy Racing!).

Kirkwood had contact with what appeared to be Sting Ray Robb in Turn 5 on the first lap of the 25 lap event, which along with a non-functioning radio, led to him not realizing his RP Motorsport team wanted him to come to pit road.

The Jupiter, Fla. native had another incident as he fell to the rear of the 14-car field, bringing out the caution on Lap 5. Kirkwood’s first career Road To Indy DNF (Did Not Finish) also ended a personal 11-race Road To Indy winning streak that started last May on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The green flag came back out to start Lap 8 with Lindh, Thompson, Robb, de la Vara and Lastochkin the top five.

Behind the front two, it was a pair of veteran competitors along with a pair of Exclusive Autosport pilots providing some excitement. Robb got in a little too deep into in Turn 1, and de la Vera was able to go to the inside of the Exclusive Autosport No. 2. Behind them, Lastochkin and Frost went side by side through Turns 1 & 2, before Lastochkin wisely yielded to his teammate who had the preferred line head to the high-speed Turn 3.

Three laps later Robb gets the final spot of the podium back from de la Vera, who lost a place on the next lap to Frost.

Fourth to ninth is all nose-to-tail on track, and up front, Thompson is starting to put pressure on Lindh.

By Lap 15, Thompson had cut Lindh’s lead to 0.2 seconds, while Robb was the quickest driver on the track. On the next lap, the pole-sitter got a better drive off the final corner and was able to complete the pass of Lindh on the inside in Turn 1. Lindh told TSO ladder that it was a fair pass, and not a surprise that Thompson was able to get by him.

Over the next two laps, Thompson was able to pull out a 1.2 second gap, before the yellow flag came back out for the second time. This time it was the DEForce Racing No. 7 of Kory Enders, which came to a stop along Bayshore Drive after making contact with the concrete barriers in Turn 10.

The green flag came out for the final time with five laps to go, and Thompson was able to get a significant jump over Lindh, who had teammate Robb right on his tail.

Sting Ray Robb fights to keep his No. Juncos Racing No. 2 off the wall while catching his teammate (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“My goal for the year is to win the championship, so to get the points is a benefit, explained Robb after the race. “I fell back on the restart but made a good move on Moises (de la Vara) to start getting back toward the leaders. I was laying down qualifying laps, but I didn’t have enough to get it done in the end. We’ll make a few changes to the car and come out faster tomorrow.”

The best battle in the last five laps was between Fioravanti and Locke for the tenth spot with the American Locke getting by the Italian with two laps to go.

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products Race #1 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 8 Parker Thompson Abel Motorsports –.—-
2 10 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing -1.324
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing -1.791
4 68 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport -3.106
5 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport -4.933
6 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing -5.463
7 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing -7.287
8 98 Phillippe Denes FatBoy Racing -7.651
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -8.239
10 91 Parker Locke Exclusive Autosport -11.023
11 5 Damiano Fioravanti RP Motorsport Racing -11.239
12 83 Charles Finelli Fatboy Racing! -34.5580
13 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing -9 laps
14 28 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport Racing -22 laps

Key Step on the Road to Indy to be Rebranded for 2019

Indy Pro 2000 Logo
Key Step on the Road to Indy to be Rebranded for 2019

PALMETTO, Fla. – The middle step on the world-renowned Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder is being rebranded as the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in time for the 2019 season.

Fitting in between the entry-level Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – which provides the final stepping stone to the IndyCar Series –  Indy Pro 2000 will continue to build on a strong foundation which was further strengthened this year following the introduction of the state-of-the-art Tatuus PM-18.

Originally debuting as Star Mazda in 1991, then reformed as Pro Mazda in 2013 when Andersen Promotions took over the helm after the previous administration ceased operations, the series has served as a vital training ground for many of today’s open-wheel stars during its 28-year history.

Current IndyCar drivers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Graham Rahal all established their credentials in either Star Mazda or Pro Mazda, while recently crowned champion Rinus VeeKay is poised to move up one more step on the ladder when he enters the Indy Lights fray for 2019.

Indy Pro 2000 competitors next season will vie for a champion’s purse valued at $596,700 to progress to Indy Lights and follow in their footsteps, with the aim of graduating to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

“We are indebted to the tremendous support of Mazda over the past nine years, but now, as the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires legacy continues to grow, we feel the time is right to introduce a new look as we head into a new season,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions.

“The Tatuus USF-17 has been hugely successful from the time it was introduced in USF2000 two years ago, and since the same chassis – along with some considerable enhancements – forms the basis for the PM-18, it makes sense to incorporate this into the name evolution while also strengthening our ties to INDYCAR. We are excited to roll-out the new Indy Pro 2000 branding over the course of the next few months.”

The rebranding will go into effect immediately on the Indy Pro 2000 website (indypro2000.com) and social media platforms with the new handle of @IndyPro2000 on both Twitter and Facebook. Instagram will feature all three series under Road To Indy Official.

The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires slate of 16 races at nine venues will kick off March 9/10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., where all three levels of the Road to Indy will be in action. The Road to Indy annual Spring Training will take place one week prior on March 2/3 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Coverage of Indy Pro 2000 will continue to include global live streaming of all practice, qualifying and race events on indypro2000.com, indycar.com, RoadToIndy.TV and the Road to Indy TV App. In 2016, Road to Indy became the first American racing series with a dedicated broadcast channel on demand. The channel is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku in addition to an official App on Xbox One.

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About Indy Pro 2000: The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires traces its roots back to 1991, when it originally debuted as the Star Mazda Championship. Over the course of its 28-year history, it has proven to be a vital training ground for many of today’s top drivers. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit www.indypro2000.com.

About the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires: The vast majority of the IndyCar Series grid is comprised of drivers who have come through the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – one of the most successful driver development programs in the world. Comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the ladder system provides a unique, scholarship-funded path to the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. The mission of the Road to Indy is to develop and advance, and that includes not only drivers but teams and personnel as well.

About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the Verizon IndyCar Series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor of the Americas Rallycross and short course off-road racing. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/teamcoopertire.