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Gold, d’Orlando Claim Poles for Carb Night Classic

Reece Gold (Juncos Racing) on track at Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The build-up to the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is set to continue tomorrow with the traditional “Carb Day” final practice session, but just a few miles west of the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development drivers will be honing their own skills at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval for the Carb Night Classic – “The Race Before the 500.”
But first, as with their better known and more experienced brethren in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, drivers on the first two rungs of the open-wheel ladder – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – undertook their own single-car qualifying sessions this evening on the 0.686-mile, high-banked oval.
Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., carried forward the speed he displayed two weeks ago at the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course by once again qualifying fastest of the Indy Pro 2000 field and thereby securing pole position for the Cooper Tires Freedom 90 for Juncos Racing. In USF2000, Michael d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., set the pace for the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 for Cape Motorsports.
All drivers completed two qualifying laps, venturing out in the reverse order of their current championship positions, with the aggregate times determining their grid positions.

Gold on Top Again in Indy Pro 2000

Last year’s USF2000 champion, Christian Rasmussen, from Copenhagen, Denmark, had paced the field during a pair of test sessions earlier today, but when it mattered in qualifying, Gold laid down the best two laps in 41.7287 seconds, an average speed of 118.365 mph.
Gold, who finished third in last year’s USF2000 title-chase, had developed an affinity for the Lucas Oil Raceway oval while finishing second one year ago. And after sweeping all three Indy Pro 2000 poles on the road course recently, the teenager rose to the task again this evening. Now he has his eyes set on an overdue maiden victory.
“This is awesome – it’s not the big track, but it’s still great,” said Gold. “It means a lot to be on pole on an oval in Indianapolis just two days before the Indy 500. And with three poles at the grand prix, I guess there’s just something about Indianapolis. We’ve been doing really well lately and I’m really happy. The track changed a bit from practice but we made some last-minute changes to the car and it was super good for qualifying. On the out lap, you have time to get a feel for where you are with the car and from there, it’s just a matter of going as fast as you can. I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Series points leader Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, will start second tomorrow evening for the Exclusive Autosport team, with Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Gold’s teammate, Manuel Sulaiman, from Puebla, Mexico, on row two of the grid.
Also impressive was Ireland’s James Roe, marking his oval track debut by qualifying strongly in fifth for Turn 3 Motorsport.
The green flag for Friday’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90 is slated for 8:05 p.m. EDT. Global live streaming can be found on the Road to Indy TV App and at RoadToIndy.TV and indypro2000.com.

Michael d’Orlando on track at the Lucas Oil Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

First Pole for d’Orlando

There have been mixed emotions so far this season for d’Orlando. Last time out on the road course he was disappointed to qualify mid-pack, only to post three spectacular charges to notch a trio of top-four finishes and vault himself into championship contention. The youngster will have rather less to do tomorrow after securing his first-ever pole position, although he still faces the significant challenge of holding off the remainder of a stacked 24-car field for 75 laps.
“I am so happy – I never thought my first series pole would come on an oval,” exclaimed d’Orlando. “I knew we had some work to do after the first test session; we made some improvements to the car and to my driving and we were much quicker in the second session. At that moment, I knew I had the pace, since my quickest times were at the end of the session when the tires were falling off. It was an interesting qualifying, with gusty winds. You could go hard into Turn One because you were into the wind, but you lost the aero in Turn Two, so you really had to drive to what the wind was doing – and I guess I did! I kind of surprised myself, running two laps at a 22.5, but I’m super proud of the job the team and I did and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), from Newport Beach, Calif., will start second with Pabst Racing teammates Josh Pierson, from Wilsonville, Ore., and top rookie qualifier Jace Denmark , from Scottsdale, Ariz., sharing row two.
Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), from Santa Clarita, Calif., and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), from Recife, Brazil, will start fifth and sixth, with championship leader Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), from Delafield, Wis., down in eighth behind Englishman Matt Round-Garrido (Exclusive Autosport).
The Cooper Tires Freedom 75 is set to kick off an intense evening of racing tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Global live streaming can be found on the Road to Indy TV App and at RoadToIndy.TV and usf2000.com.

Veteran Manuel Sulaiman and Braden Eves set the tone in first Indy Pro 2000 test as Barber Motorsports Park

Manuel Sulaiman, in the Telcel/Infinitum/WBC/Inteligentus/Anahuac sponsored Juncos Racing No.22 topped the first test session of the Barber Motorsports Park race weekend – Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Don’t forget to read our extensive Indy Pro 2000 team and driver preview here —> Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – Part #3 – team and driver previews

Unlike the first USF2000 test session, Thursday morning’s Indy Pro 2000 session was reasonably well attended.

All 17 drivers completed numerous laps of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park natural terrain road course during the 60-minutes of testing. All told, the field completed 784.3 miles of testing. The RP Motorsport rookie duo of Enzo Fittipaldi and Enaam Ahmed were the busiest, completing 32 and 28 laps.

Not surprisingly, it was a pair of veteran championship contenders that made a solid first impression. Indy Pro 2000 race winners in 2020, Manuel Sulaiman (Juncos Racing) and Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), were separated by a scant 0.0148 seconds at the top of the timesheet. Sulaiman’s best lap was timed at 77.2680 seconds.

Like the five spring training sessions at Barber Motorsports Park, the driver’s best lap times were ridiculously close. The top five – Sulaiman, Eves, Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), Reece Gold (Juncos Racing), and Fittipaldi – were covered by a scant two-tenths of a second. Less than a half-a-second covered the top nine, and all 17 drivers were within 1.2 seconds of the top spot.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires test session #1 at Barber Motorsports Park – April 15, 2021

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:17.2680 0.000 19
2 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:17.2828 0.0148 23
3 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:17.3916 0.1236 19
4 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:17.4583 0.1903 19
5 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA 1:17.4635 0.1955 32
6 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:17.5463 0.2783 12
7 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:17.5917 0.3237 22
8 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:17.6407 0.3727 26
9 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.6483 0.3803 13
10 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:17.9466 0.6786 28
11 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:18.1298 0.8618 17
12 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:18.2127 0.9447 24
13 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development 1:18.2285 0.9605 14
14 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:18.3030 1.0350 11
15 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport 1:18.3471 1.0791 22
16 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:18.3996 1.1316 17
17 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:18.4956 1.2276 23

Brooks leads veteran dominated USF2000 test session #3

Christian Brooks behind the wheel of Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored Exclusive Autosport No. 44 on track during spring training at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

For the third straight USF2000 spring training session, the Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored Exclusive Autosport No. 44 wheeled by Christian Brooks was the quickest of the 23 drivers.

Brooks’ best lap of 80.7981 seconds in ideal conditions was almost 1.5 seconds quicker than his test leading lap on Sunday.

Next on the timing screens were a trio, Prescott Campbell, Nolan Siegel, and Kiko Porto, of veteran DEForce Racing drivers.

Rounding out the veteran driver-dominated top five was Pabst Racing sophomore Josh Pierson.

The quickest rookie was Pierson’s teammate Jace Denmark.

The top 16 drivers were within a second of Brooks, and 20 of the 23 pilots are below the track record of 83.009 seconds set by Michael Epps in 2014.

Matching the two sessions on Easter Sunday, the early leader in the session was Brooks. The Exclusive Autosport sophomore took advantage of the cool weather and only took four laps to eclipse his fastest lap from the first day of spring training, turning a lap at 82.1106 seconds.

With just under 15 minutes expired in the one-hour session, a pair of Pabst Racing drivers jumped to the top of the timesheet. First, it was veteran Yuven Sundaramoorthy, who was followed by Jace Denmark.

It didn’t take long for Brooks to jump back to the top of the timing screens. The Californian was the first driver to crack into the 81-second range. The rest of the top five at the one-quarter pole were Siegel (DEForce Racing), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), and Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development).

A pair of rookies, Thomas Nepveu (Cape Motorsports) and Kent Vaccaro (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), were the only drivers that had not yet turned a lap.

Siegel was the next driver to jump to the top of the timing screens. The 16-year-old driving for DEForce Racing clocked in at 81.1966 seconds on his fourth lap of the morning.

DEForce Racing sophomore Prescott Campbell was the next driver to jump to the pointiest portion of the timing sheets, becoming the first driver to turn a lap below 81 seconds.

At the halfway point of the session, Campbell’s time was still the best, and the Californian was the only driver with a lap under 81 seconds. He was joined in the top ten by Brooks, Siegel, Porto, Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Grant Palmer (Exclusive Autosport), Spike Kohlbecker (Cape Motorsports), Dylan Christie (Turn 3 Motorsport), Josh Pierson (Pabst Racing).

For the next fifteen minutes, many drivers continued to get quicker, including Kohlbecker, Palmer, Rowe, Jackson Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), and Brooks, the second driver to break into the 80-second laps.

With fifteen left in the session, 19 of the 23 drivers were within 1.1 seconds of Campbell’s quickest lap.

Behind Campbell, Brooks, and Siegel at the top of the timing screens, times continued to fall, with Denmark, Sundaramoorthy, Pierson, Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport), and Myles Rowe (Force Indy) all jumping into the top ten within a half-second of Campbell.

Brooks found himself in a familiar position atop the timing screen with just under ten minutes remaining when he turned a lap timed at 80.7981 seconds.

With 54 minutes of the session expired, the first red flag of the morning session came out for three minutes before the track went back to green, allowing the drivers one more chance to set a lap time.

The 22 drivers that took to the Barber Motorsports Park road course completed 587 laps of running. Rookies Denmark and Burke were the busiest drivers, each completing 34 circuits, but they weren’t alone in getting the miles. Eight drivers completed 30 or more laps.

The only driver to not turn a lap was Cape Motorsports rookie Thomas Nepveu, who had electrical issues with the No. 2 Cape Motorsports machine.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship spring training at Barber Motorsports Park test session #3 timesheet.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:20.7981 0.000 28
2 11 Prescott Campbell DEForce Racing 1:20.9386 0.1405 22
3 10 Nolan Siegel DEForce Racing 1:21.0929 0.2948 18
4 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:21.3141 0.5160 23
5 24 Josh Pierson Pabst Racing 1:21.3248 0.5267 33
6 23 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1:21.3891 0.5910 34
7 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:21.4300 0.6319 33
8 91 Billy Frazer Exclusive Autosport 1:21.4547 0.6566 28
9 99 Myles Rowe Force Indy 1:21.4773 0.6792 32
10 5 Spike Kohlbecker Cape Motorsports 1:21.4872 0.6891 33
11 33 Josh Green Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.4896 0.6915 25
12 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:21.5406 0.7425 32
13 90 Grant Palmer Exclusive Autosport 1:21.5410 0.7429 29
14 34 Dylan Christie Turn 3 Motorsport 1:21.5938 0.7957 27
15 6 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.7041 0.9060 24
16 1 Ely Navarro DEForce Racing 1:21.7234 0.9253 25
17 9 Peter Vodanovich Jay Howard Driver Development 1:21.9157 1.1176 25
18 8 Jackson Lee Jay Howard Driver Development 1:22.0041 1.2060 23
19 3 Evan Stamer Cape Motorsports 1:22.0362 1.2381 30
20 29 Erik Evans Velocity Racing Development 1:22.4156 1.6175 14
21 16 Kent Vaccaro Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:23.1678 2.3697 15
22 63 Trey Burke Joe Dooling Autosports 1:23.6030 2.8049 34
23 2 Thomas Nepveu Cape Motorsports No Time

Look for these same cars and drivers at 10:50 am (central) for their fourth test session of spring training.


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


A note about our presenting sponsor. 

Once again, a huge thank you to Cooper Tires for coming back to be the presenting sponsor of TSO Ladder for the fourth season. Without them, we would not be able to bring you our extensive Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires coverage. If you require tires, I highly recommend them. Our family has the Discover ® AT3 4S  on our SUV and CS5 Grand Touring on our car.

Cooper Tires 2021 Spring Promotion runs through April 12 and has some great bargains. Click here to learn more and find out where to purchase your Coopers. 

Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Wyatt Brichacek leads tight field of Indy Pro 2000 racers in spring training

The technicians for Cooper Tire busy at work during Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires spring training at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

Mirroring USF2000, the second Indy Pro 2000 session was led by Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Wyatt Brichacek. The 20-year-old also led the first Indy Pro 2000 session of spring training.

Slotting in just behind Brichacek was Turn 3 Motorsport rookie James Roe, who was joined in the top five by Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), and Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing).

Much like the first Indy Pro 2000 session, the top 15 pilots were within one second of Brichacek’s No. 5 PM-18.

With 15 of the 60-minutes allotted for the second Indy Pro 2000 session completed, only 11 of the 17 drivers had turned a lap.

One of those was Enaam Ahmed, who ran afoul of race control immediately after the first session, was forced to sit the first ten minutes of the second session as punishment. The RP Motorsport driver recovered nicely to end his first day in an Indy Pro 2000 car less than four-tenths-of-a-second behind Brichacek.

At that point of the session, the leader was Juncos Racing rookie Gold, with a lap timed at 78.0225 seconds. He was followed immediately by his teammates Manuel Sulaiman and Kyffin Simpson, who were both within three-tenths-of-a-second of the No. 55.

After an early flurry of quick laps, the drivers settled into a rhythm, with only first session leader Wyatt Brichacek making a move. The Jay Howard Driver Development rookie put in a lap that was only five-hundredths of a second behind Gold.

Other drivers to turn their quickest in a couple of minutes before the 30-minute point of the session were Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing), James Roe (Turn 3 Motorsport), and Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsport).

Times started to fall during the final fifteen minutes of the session, with McElrea, Shields, and finally Brichacek jumping to the top of the timesheet.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires spring training at Barber Motorsports Park test session #2 timesheet.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.3432 26
2 3 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport 1:17.5966 0.2534 21
3 1 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.6287 0.2855 26
4 18 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:17.6317 0.2885 24
5 7 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:17.6603 0.3171 25
6 77 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport USA 1:17.7393 0.3961 24
7 11 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development 1:17.8468 0.5036 24
8 55 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1:17.8848 0.5416 27
9 27 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:17.9078 0.5646 24
10 21 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1:17.9930 0.6498 28
11 22 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1:18.1669 0.8237 27
12 42 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1:18.2934 0.9502 20
13 74 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport USA 1:18.3497 1.0065 30
14 91 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1:18.4206 1.0774 19
15 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:18.4398 1.0966 26
16 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:18.4834 1.1402 32
17 20 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport 1:19.6739 2.3307 11

Ground-breaking USF2000 team Force Indy announce Myles Rowe as pilot of the No. 99

Myles Rowe, a 20-year-old from Atlanta, Ga., will pilot the No. 99 for Force Indy during the 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season (Photo Courtesy of Force Indy)

By Steve Wittich

Force Indy, a new and ground-breaking Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship team, announces that Myles Rowe will pilot the team’s No. 99 USF-17 during the upcoming 2021 season.

“We vetted many deserving young men and women and chose Myles based on his ability and performance, inside and outside of the cockpit,” said Force Indy Team Principal Rod Reid. “He understands Force Indy’s mission of building a diverse team of talented individuals. He’s a great fit for the team.”

Rowe, who first developed an interest in motorsport as a four-year-old, won an impressive five of his eight Lucas Oil Formula Car Series race starts. At 20 years of age, Rowe has tested USF2000 machinery on multiple occasions, including for the first time at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test with John Cummiskey Racing.

Myles Rowe at the 2017 Chris Griffis Memorial Test (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“It’s a blessing for sure. I didn’t expect to get started in open-wheel in this way. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it,” explained two-time Champion Spark Plugs “Search For The Champion” grand prize winner Rowe. “I’ve been working hard for this moment; with all of the practice I’ve put in since I was 12 years old. So, when the opportunity came forth it was a relief, honestly.”

Force Indy is led by principal Rod Reid, a long time motorsports participant and leader of the NXG Youth Motorsports (NXG) initiative. The first three crew members are:

  • Derrick Morris, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., and NXG graduate, was most recently a mechanic for the Indianapolis Marion County Police Department.
  • Fellow NXG alum Stuart Winston Kelly, an Organizational Development degree holder, who builds his own drift cars.
  • Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Technology graduate Mujahid Nadeem Ali. The Montclair, New Jersey native, has been an engineer for Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, and John Deere.

You can follow Myle’s career on the following social media channels – TwitterInstagramFacebook.

You can follow Force Indy’s journey here – WebsiteTwitter InstagramFacebook.

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will be on track for an official test at Barber Motorsports Park on April 4-5, 2021, and the first race event will be held on the same 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course from April 15-17, 2021.

Thoughts from Steve

  • It’s great to see Rowe finally get an opportunity to showcase his talent.
  • I checked with a few coaches from the Lucas Oil School Of Racing, and the thoughts were unanimous. Rowe is ‘really good’ and should excel in this opportunity.
  • The addition of Force Indy and Rowe to the Road To Indy grid is a big deal. First, opportunities for the Black community in racing have been lacking. Second, and much more pragmatically, the addition of the team and driver open up INDYCAR and racing to a whole new group of fans and sponsors.

Indy Pro 2000 race abandoned due to conditions and time constraints – will be restarted at a time TBD

 

Rain falling at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy of Steve Wittich – TSO Ladder)

By Steve Wittich

Just before the 14 Indy Pro 2000 entries were about to head from the false grid to pit road, the skies opened up, and it started to pour.

The “Drivers Start Your Engines” command was delayed as track crews dispersed some standing water in Turn 2, Turn 6, and Turn 9.

Teams were informed by race control that the second Surgere Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio race of the weekend would be reduced from 25 laps to 20 laps (45 minutes to 35 minutes) due to the weather and the schedule constraints.

The command to fire the engines was given at 9:11 am, with all 14 Elite Engine 275hp engines firing.

The field was given two reconnaissance laps before going green.

On the first of two laps, Antoine Comeau, who was due to set 10th, spun in the keyhole. He was able to continue but was told he would need to start at the end of the field.

After the first pace lap, race control announced that the start would be single-file.

As the field came to the front straight, Danial Frost, the fifth car in line, spun. The No. 68 Turn, 3 Motorsport PM-18, didn’t hit anything, but he was forced to take the green flag from the rear oft he field.

The field was given one more lap behind the pace car, getting the green flag on Lap 3, with the clock at 28 minutes.

Pole-sitter Sulaiman wasn’t able to get wowed down headed into Turn 1, going into the gravel trap, getting stuck. Also, missing Turn 1 was DeFrancesco. Going off track before the yellow flag came out as leader Sting Ray Robb got to Turn 2 was the Pabst Racing rookies Colin Kaminsky and Hunter McElrea.

The running order as the field crossed the line to start Lap 3 was: Robb, Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing), Artem Petrov (Juncos Racing), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Moisés de la Vara (DEForce Racing), Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsports), Bob Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Antoine Comeau (Turn 3 Motorsports), Charles Finelli (Fatboy Racing!), C. Kaminsky, McElrea, DeFrancesco, Sulaiman, and Enders.

After one lap circulating under yellow, the field was shown the red flag, and they came to pit road. The clock stopped with 16 laps or 21 minutes remaining in the race.

Sulaiman, DeFrancesco, McElrea, and C.Kaminsky were all able to get back on track with the help of the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team, with C. Kaminsky on the lead lap, and McElrea, DeFrancesco, and Sulaiman one lap down.

With the NTT INDYCAR® SERIES qualifying next on deck, the race was abandoned, with teams told that the race would continue at a time still to be determined. Teams were told to take their cars back to the Road To Indy paddock and not be impounded, allowing them to work their PM-18s.

The running order when the race was abandoned was:

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Pabst Racing
2 9 Parker Thompson Juncos Racing
3 42 Artem Petrov Juncos Racing
4 51 Jacob Abel Pabst Racing
5 6 Moises de la Vara Abel Motorsports
6 68 Danial Frost DEForce Racing
7 57 Bob Kaminsky Turn 3 Motorsport
8 3 Antoine Comeau DEForce Racing
9 83 Charles Finelli Pabst Racing
10 19 Colin Kaminsky FatBoy Racing
11 18 Hunter McElrea DEForce Racing
12 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
13 8 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing
14 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing

Barrichello grabs his second straight win, Miller gets best finish, Brooks scores first podium

The Race #2 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship podium on the victory podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

It’s been two races and two trips to victory podium at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Pabst Racing sophomore Eduardo Barrichello. But, the two wins couldn’t have been more different.

Yesterday, the second generation driver led only two laps, while today, he led all 15-laps, facing almost no pressure from his competitors.

“Yes,” said Barrichello when asked if that was his best drive so far, adding that. “It’s really hard to be in first and get a level of concentration good enough to do qual(ification) laps. It’s really, really hard. I figured that I could pull a big enough gap and be a little more comfortable at the start. We did the fastest lap of the race, so we’re really happy.”

The 18-year-old moves into second place in the championship and enters the event’s third race with a 74 point deficit. Before the event began, the gap between the race #2 winner and championship leader was 89 points.

Barrichello’s win is the third on the IMS Road Course for Pabst Racing.

Coming home in second place, his second podium in the last three races was Jack William Miller. The second-generation race made a textbook pass on championship leader Rasmussen. The podium has brought the native Hoosier into a tie for eighth on the championship table.

It was only a matter of time before Christian Brooks found himself on a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship podium. The Exclusive Autosport rookie has finished in the top five three times before race #2.

Christian Brooks in the Hot Wheels/Chaco Flaco/Bell Helmets sponsored No. 44 from Exclusive Autosport stable on track during a podium run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

After his podium, Brooks is now only five points behind Josh Green as the highest-scoring rookie.

At 10:55 am, the voice of race control, Jim Swintal, gave the call for the drivers to start their Elite Engine prepared 2.0L. Engines.

After one pace lap, the all-Brazilian front row of Porto and Barrichello brought the 21 cars to the ‘yard of bricks’ and the green flag.

Porto got a decent start, with Barrichello dropping in behind his fellow Brazilian. From his fourth starting spot, Rasmussen also got a good start, making it four-wide going into Turn 1. It was Barrichello that was the first driver to get to Turn 2, followed by Rasmussen and Miller.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship field goes four-wide into the Turn 1 braking zone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

As they got to Turn 7, Miller made a daring pass on Rasmussen to move to second place.

Pole sitter Porto fell down the running order to sixth on the chaotic opening lap.

The running order after a clean first lap was Barrichello, Miller, Rasmussen, Brooks, Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), Porto, Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), Max Kaeser (Jay Howard Driver Development), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Cameron Shields (DEForce Racing), Matthew Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing), Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport), Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), Josh Green (Cape Motorsports), Prescott Campbell (Exclusive Autosport), Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport), Bijoy Garg (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Michael Myers (Legacy Autosport).

On Lap 2, Brooks, who started sixth, was able to get by Rasmussen to grab the final spot on the podium.

Further back in the field, Garg and Dupell disagreed over space in Turn 12, with the Jay Howard Driver Development car falling to last and Dupell coming to pit road.

On Lap 4, Rasmussen, Gold, and Porto were fighting for the fourth spot, with Porto getting by Gold for fifth. Further back in the field, Gold lost places to his teammate d’Orlando and Siegel to fall to eighth.

Barrichello’s lead over Miller to start Lap 5 was 1.3 seconds, with Brooks another 1.6 seconds back.

The battling for 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th between Kaeser, Green, Sikes, and Round-Garrido was fast and furious, with Kaeser eventually ending the race with his second top ten.

At the halfway point of the 15 lap race, Barrichello’s lead over Miller had grown to 1.6 seconds. Brooks was 1.4 seconds behind Miller and had his mirrors full of Rasmussen and Porto.

With five laps remaining, Miller has slowly started to eat into Barrichello’s lead, crossing the ‘yard of bricks’ 1.3 seconds adrift of the leader with five laps to go.

The gap remained the same as they started the next lap, with the best battle on track between Brooks and Rasmussen for the podium’s final spot.

Brooks was able to hold the position, which allowed Porto a chance to enter the fight. The pole-sitter was able to get around the championship leader in Turn 1 to move to fourth place.

With two laps remaining, Barrichello held a 1.2-second advantage over Miller. Behind Miller, Brooks, Porto, Rasmussen, Gold, and d’Orlando were nose to tail with a spot on the podium the prize.

The gap between the front two was only one second as they got the white flag.

Further back, the battle for the podium’s final spot was a train of five cars following Brooks.

Barrichello was able to hold on, crossing the ‘yard of bricks a slim 0.5 seconds ahead of Miller. Further back, Brooks held on for third, with the four drivers behind him within less than two seconds.

Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Indy Grand Prix race #2 race results (unofficial)

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 15 laps
2 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -0.5366
3 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport -3.7237
4 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing -4.1313
5 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development -4.5408
6 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports -5.0767
7 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports -5.7951
8 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development -7.5669
9 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -10.8909
10 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -14.0728
11 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports -14.5798
12 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport -15.6621
13 10 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing -18.3129
14 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing -19.7855
15 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development -23.0505
16 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport -23.4003
17 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development -23.5578
18 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport -23.7734
19 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development -30.4487
20 24 Michael Myers Legacy Autosport -42.9045
21 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports -5 LAPS

The remainder of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship schedule

Friday, September 4, 2020
2:45pm – 3:30pm – USF2000 Race #3 (20 laps or 50 minutes)

DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto leads fog interrupted USF2000 practice – top 11 within a half-second

Kiko Porto on track at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The DEForce Racing rookie led the first practice session in preparation for a triple-header on the IMS Road Course. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

For the first time in his short Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career, DEForce Racing rookie Kiko Porto led a practice session. The just-turned 17-year-old turned in a lap at 85.919 seconds.

Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsport), coming off his first podium at Lucas Oil Raceway, continued to build on his momentum, turning the only other sub-86 second lap on his 20th and final lap of the practice.

The rest of the top seven was made up of Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing drivers, with the order being Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), and Josh Green (Cape Motorsports).

Current championship leader, Jay Howard Driver Development sophomore Christian Rasmussen could only manage the eighth quickest time.

The top 11 drivers were within 0.5 seconds of Porto, and 19 of the 21 entries were within one second of the top spot.

If they weren’t already awake at 8 am, the denizens of Speedway, Ind. were treated to a buzzing alarm of 21 Elite Engine prepared 2.0L power plants, signifying the start of USF2000 practice.

Not surprisingly, Rasmussen went to the top of the timing screens on the green track, with Pabst Racing’s Matt Round-Garrido and Barrichello, right there with the Dane.

The quickest lap at the 10-minute mark of the lone 30-minute practice session was held by Gold, with a circuit timed at 86.604 seconds. The rest of the top 10 were Round-Garrido, Rasmussen, Porto, Barrichello, Miller, Rasmussen, Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Sundaramoorthy, Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development), and Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports)

At just past the ten-minute portion of the session, the red flag came out for track conditions as the fog rolled in across the north end of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

The sun tries to break through the fog covered portions of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (crappy photo courtesy of Steve Wittich – TSO)

The Indianapolis, Ind. metro area was under a dense fog advisory, so the fog was not wholly unexpected. It feels like we’re on the Monterey Peninsula. The sun was shining brightly, so the delay wasn’t too long.

Just before the red flag came out, Brazilian Porto went to the top of the timing charts with a lap 86.422 seconds.

The session was extended to run the full 30-minutes, and all other sessions are being pushed back by the appropriate amount of time.

When the green flag came back out at 8:45 am, 18-minutes were remaining on the clock.

With 15-minutes remaining in practice, Round-Garrido was the quickest driver with a lap of 86.323 seconds; he was followed by Porto, Miller, Gold, Barrichello, Rasmussen, Siegel, Shields, Sundaramoorthy, and Brichacek.

With ten minutes remaining in the session, Porto turned the first lap under 86 seconds.

d’Orlando, Sundaramoorthy, Barrichello, Gold, and Miller all took shots to supplant the DEForce Racing rookie at the top of the timing screens, but the lap was good enough to win practice.

The 21 drivers and cars turned a total of 393 laps, with nine drivers turning 20 laps and tying for the most laps completed.

Next up for the lowest rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is qualifying scheduled for 11 am. However, we are about 30 minutes behind schedule, so expect that to be closer to 11:30 am.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Indy Grand Prix practice results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 12 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 1:25.919 –.—- 18
2 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:25.996 0.0770 20
3 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:26.141 0.2223 18
4 22 Eduardo Barrichello Pabst Racing 1:26.178 0.2588 20
5 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:26.181 0.2619 18
6 4 Michael d’Orlando Cape Motorsports 1:26.223 0.3037 19
7 2 Josh Green Cape Motorsports 1:26.242 0.3233 19
8 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.308 0.3887 12
9 23 Matt Round-Garrido Pabst Racing 1:26.323 0.4045 17
10 9 Nolan Siegel Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.347 0.4283 20
11 10 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1:26.416 0.4973 18
12 5 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.431 0.5123 20
13 44 Christian Brooks Exclusive Autosport 1:26.446 0.5275 18
14 8 Kyle Dupell Cape Motorsports 1:26.570 0.6511 19
15 16 Josh Pierson Exclusive Autosport 1:26.664 0.7453 19
16 41 Max Kaeser Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.784 0.8650 20
17 18 Bijoy Garg Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.889 0.9704 20
18 1 Prescott Campbell Exclusive Autosport 1:26.975 1.0561 18
19 20 Simon Sikes Legacy Autosport 1:27.002 1.0828 20
20 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:27.046 1.1273 20
21 24 Michael Myers Legacy Autosport 1:27.316 1.3976 20

 

*****FYI – things are currently running about 30 minutes behind schedule.*****

The remainder of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship schedule (all times EDT)

Thursday, September 3, 2020
11am – 11:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #1
2pm – 2:45pm – USF2000 Race #1 (15 laps)

Friday, September 4, 2020
8am – 8:30am – USF2000 Qualifying #2
11am – 11:45am – USF2000 Race #2 (15 laps)
2:45pm – 3:30pm – USF2000 Race #3 (20 laps or 50 minutes)

 

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

Robert Megennis returns to 2020 Andretti Autosport Indy Lights team

Robert Megennis returns to 2020 Andretti Autosport Indy Lights team

The 19-year-old enters sophomore Indy Lights season with support from partners SailPoint, Sirius Computer Solutions, Juniper Networks and CyberArk

INDIANAPOLIS  (Feb. 17, 2020) — Andretti Autosport announced today that Robert Megennis will return to pilot the No. 27 entry for the championship-winning team for the 2020 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. As a rookie, the 19-year-old scored his first Indy Lights-career win with the team on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after starting from the pole position.

The New York-native followed the success in early May by capturing the pole for the series crown jewel, the Freedom 100. Megennis went on to stand on the podium six times and recorded 12 top-five finishes throughout his rookie campaign.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Robert back to the team,” said J-F Thormann, President of Andretti Autosport. “From the moment he climbed in the car, Robert has been determined to fight for results and it has paid off, earning a victory and a handful of podiums last season. He was a strong contender in the Freedom 100 and we’re happy he’ll have another chance to claim that title. We’re really looking forward to watching Robert mature even more in the car and anxious to see what results he can capture in 2020.”

Throughout his career in the Road to Indy ladder system, the veteran driver has scored 15 podiums and collected 52 top-10 finishes. Heading into his fifth year of Road to Indy competition, Megennis has never finished outside of the top six in each championship run he has competed in. Starting his career in 2016, he earned Rookie of the Year honors along with the Hard-Charger award in Cooper Tires USF2000, where he finished the season as the top American driver in sixth. He went on to compete as a sophomore in Cooper Tires USF2000 in 2017 and ran the Indy Pro 2000 Championship in 2018.

“I’m super excited to join Andretti Autosport for another year in Indy Lights. We had a great 2019 season and 2020 will be even better,” said Megennis. “I’m confident that we’re only going to grow and get stronger together as a team. Thanks to everyone at Andretti Autosport, SailPoint, Sirius Computer Solutions, Juniper Networks, CyberArk and my family for giving me this opportunity. Let’s go win some races.”

The No. 27 machine will receive support from a wide portfolio of partners including SailPoint, Sirius Computer Solutions, Juniper Networks and CyberArk.

“Robert’s work ethic and commitment to the sport is nothing short of impressive. We are eager to put our name behind a racer who we believe is the future champion of Indy Lights,”said Juliette Rizkallah, Chief Marketing Officer for SailPoint. “Robert and his team have been an invaluable partner to us and we look forward to extending our partnership in the year ahead.”   


“Sirius is proud to team up with Andretti Autosport and RKM Racing in 2020. This partnership is a great opportunity for us to showcase our focus on technology, innovation and agility,” said Michael Harwood, SVP of Marketing at Sirius.

Veteran Megennis will join rookie teammates Kyle Kirkwood (No. 28 Dallara) and Danial Frost (No. 68 Dallara) as the Indy Lights season kicks off on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, for the first doubleheader of the 2020 season March 14-15.

DANIAL NIELSEN FROST JOINS ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT FOR 2020 INDY LIGHTS CAMPAIGN

By Steve Wittich

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020) –  Andretti Autosport has expanded its roster with the addition of Danial Nielsen Frost for the 2020 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. The 18-year-old from Singapore is slated to slide into the No. 68 machine for the championship team.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Danial to our Indy Lights program,” said J-F Thormann, president, Andretti Autosport. “Danial has shown impressive speed and talent across his racing career and we are excited to see what 2020 has in store for him and our Indy Lights team.”

In 2018, Frost made his first start in USF2000 at Road America and finished his first season with five top-10 finishes. Now entering his third year in the Road to Indy ladder system, Frost competed in the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship where he finished fifth in the point standings and captured two wins and six podiums. Starting from pole position, Frost earned his first Indy Pro 2000 victory for the Freedom 90 on Carb Night, the Friday before the Indianapolis 500.

“To be a member of Andretti Autosport is truly an honor. I’m very excited to be driving for a renowned team and I’m looking forward to the 2020 season,” said Frost. “I am very thankful for this opportunity and especially to my sponsor Denjet. Also, I would like to thank my family, friends and fans that are supporting me.”

Frost began his racing career in 2015 with go karts and won the Singapore Karting Championship a year later. Since 2016, Frost has competed in four different Formula 4 Championships and finished third in the Formula Masters Asian Series in 2017.

Frost joins Kyle Kirkwood as the second driver announced to Andretti’s 2020 effort. The duo will strap into their Andretti Autosport machines as the 2020 Indy Lights season kicks off on the streets St. Petersburg, Florida, for the first doubleheader.

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