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Eves scores second straight for Cape Motorsports to start the USF2000 season – Keane and Rasmussen lead most of race but end with second last corner contact

By Steve Wittich

The second Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race of the weekend bore plenty of similarities to Friday’s first race. Same winner? Check, Braden Eves won for the second straight day. A daring but measured drive from the back of the field? Check, on Friday it was Darren Keane and today it was Manuel Sulaiman. Multiple cautions? Check, both races were interrupted by numerous yellow flag periods. Crazy drama? Check, but instead of first lap drama, it was last lap, last corner incident that had the crowd oohing.

The first 24 laps of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting race were led by pole sitter and Cape Motorsports veteran Keane along with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Rasmussen.

However, Keane spun in Turn 13 while in the lead, taking Rasmussen out of the race with him.

Eves was able to slip inside of the stricken pair and cross the finish line first for his second straight win to start the 2019 USF2000 season.

Braden Eves, a USF2000 rookie from New Albany, Ohio driving for Cape Motorsports won his second straight race to start of the 2019 season on a high (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“Back in my karting days, I would literally go from third to first in the last corner, so it was crazy,” said Eves after the unexpected win. “I didn’t expect that, but it was lucky for me. I was in the right position at the right time. The competition level is so high here that you go into each weekend with an open mind. You could never expect to take both wins on the weekend. I wanted good points, and that was the main goal, so you can’t ask for better than two wins.”

For the second straight race USF2000 $200k Scholarship Shootout winner Hunter McElrea, who was making his first two rolling starts, lost positions when the green flag came out. On Friday, the Pabst Racing rookie was able to recover to third and on Saturday, the 19-year-old went one better, to finish second. A solid weekend for the Los Angeles born, Australian raised New Zealander, who was making his first race starts in a formula car with wings and downforce.

Rounding out the podium was BN Racing’s Zach Holden who was a late addition to the field. The less experienced 18-year-old came out on top in an entertaining battle with USF2000 veterans Alexandre Baron (Legacy Autosport) and Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing).

“That last turn was insane; I don’t think anybody saw that coming, said the Greenfield, Indiana native. “I was a last-minute entry and was really hoping just to finish, so to walk out of this weekend with a podium after not being in the car for six months feels really great. To have the pace we had all weekend and have the race we had gives us plenty of momentum and confidence going into my home race in Indianapolis.”

Hunter McElrea (No. 22) and Zach Holden (No. 27) battle for position on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. The pair came home with USF2000 podium finishes in the second race of the weekend (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Just before the all-Cape Motorsports front row reached the “go zone” the starter waved the yellow flag, waving off the start because of the No. 41 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports machine of Eduardo Barrichello was stopped on track with a mechanical issue.

Keane got a great jump on Eves when the race finally got started to begin Lap 3, allowing Rasmussen and Kaminsky to slide past the Race #1 winner and into the second and third spots.

Rasmussen got better exit off Turn 3 and went to the outside of Keane headed to Turn 4. The Cape Motorsports veteran and Jay Howard Driver Development rookie went side-by-side through the tight 90-degree right hander which gave Rasmussen the inside line to Turn 5. Keane was forced to back out and the Danish driver was able to go to the point.

The running order after the first green flag lap was: Rasmussen, Keane, Kaminsky, Eves, Baron, Holden, McElrea, Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing), Manuel Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport), Bruna Tomaselli (Pabst Racing), Jose Sierra (Legacy Autosport), Anthony Famularo (BN Racing), Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nolan Siegel (Newman Wachs Racing), and Matthew Round-Garrido (Jay Howard Driver Development).

Two laps later, Keane was able to the better drive off Turn 14 and make a clean textbook pass of Rasmussen to go back to the lead.

At the end of the next lap, Kaminsky went into Turn 13 too hot, opening up the inside for Eves to get by him for the final spot on the podium.

Behind the battle for the podium, Holden, Baron, McElrea, and Sheilds were putting on a show, exchanging spots in the Top 5.

The second full-course caution (first for an incident) came out on Lap 12 when rookie Bogle had an incident in Turn 9.

Keane was holding onto just under a full second lead over Rasmussen when the caution flags flew. Eves, Holden, McElrea, Kaminsky, Baron, Shields, Sierra and Cabrera made up the remainder of the top ten.

Rasmussen was able to get by Keane in the later portion of the lap, but he pushed wide final 180 degree pair of corners and allowed Keane to move back into the lead as they cross the stripe with nine laps to remaining. Once again, the pair went side by side through a corner, this time, Turn 1 before Keane moved to the point.

Holden was able to briefly get by Eves for the final spot of the podium by going to the inside of Turn 10, but that compromised the next two corners, allowing Eves and McElrea to get by.

Just behind that battle, Cabrera and Miller were in a struggle for tenth when the left front of Miller’s No. 40 made contact with the right rear of the Exclusive Autosport No. 90, sending him spinning, knocking him out of the race and bringing out another full course caution.

Miller, a second-generation driver was issued a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Australian Shields who was running a solid eighth was forced to pit road for repairs to the No. 73, ending a sure top ten run.

The top 10 when the green flag came back out with five laps remaining were Keane, Rasmussen, Eves, McElrea, Holden, Baron, Kaminsky, Sierra, and Sulaiman.

It was the first time that race #1 podium finisher Sulaiman had cracked the top ten after being forced to start last after making contact with the concrete barriers on his out-lap in qualifying only a few hours earlier. The 18-year-old was able to gain four more spots over the final five laps to finish a splendid come back drive in sixth.

The battles in the top ten over the final five circuits was hard fought, but mainly drama free until the penultimate corner mistake by Keane ended his and Rasmussen’s days in 14th and 15th place finishes.

There were a few notable recovery drives in the 25 lap “feature” race.

Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Round-Garrido was in 20th spot after the first lap and drove through the field to finish ninth.

Famularo, who is coached by former Indy car champion Juan Montoya, grabbed the second top ten of his debut Road To Indy event moving from his 16th starting spot to tenth.

Pabst Racing rookie Sundaramoorthy dropped back 16th early in the race but drove a smart race to bring his Pabst Racing No. 21 home in 11th.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting Race #2 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 25 laps
2 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing -0.6338
3 27 Zach Holden BN Racing -1.2618
4 14 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport -2.0381
5 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -3.9729
6 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing -4.5949
7 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing -6.2738
8 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports -7.2399
9 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development -7.7176
10 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing -10.7625
11 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing -16.304
12 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing -18.2939
13 77 Jose Sierra Legacy Autosport -34.9574
14 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports – 1 LAP
15 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development – 1 LAP
16 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing – 1 LAP
17 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports – 2 LAPS
18 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport – 9 LAPS
19 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development – 15 LAPS
20 69 Nate Aranda Team E JAY Racing DNS
21 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports DNS
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Braden Eves tops an all-rookie podium in wild Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race #1

Braden Eves, making only his third Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship start, was the 13th driver in 19 races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit to win from the pole.

The 19-year-old gave St. Petersburg, Fla. based Cape Motorsports their eighth home race victory and to go along with the 20 podiums from 12 different drivers.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Eves. “I was really focused on getting a good start and making sure there wasn’t any pressure going into Turn One. After the final yellow, I was able to make sure Manuel didn’t go on the inside of me and from there I focused on not making mistakes and keeping it clean. Cape has such a winning history so to continue that on, from what Kyle Kirkwood was able to do last year – and at their home grand prix – feels great. People think it’s a lot of pressure on me, but they give me and my teammates an incredible amount of support and that really helps.”

Manuel Sulaiman, who rebounded from contact in the morning qualifying session stood on the second step of the podium in his first race. It’s the second podium in “St. Pete” for DEForce Racing.

“The team did an amazing job to get the car ready in such a short amount of time,” explained Sulaiman. “The car was settled really well to get this result. It was a very stressful race but it was a good experience and gives us good confidence for the championship.”

Rounding out the all-rookie podium was Hunter McElrea, who survived early contact to wheel his Soul Red No. 22 to the final spot on the podium.

Rounding out the top five and making it five different teams in the top five were Jay Howard Driver Development pilot Christian Rasmussen and BN Racing’s Zach Holden.

The disjointed race that featured three cautions and one red flag began with a first lap caution for the eighth time in 19 races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. It was not just any caution though as veteran Legacy Autosport pilot executed a snap barrel roll and landed back on four wheels.

Baron was uninjured and is cleared to drive tomorrow.

The spectacular Lap 1, Turn 1 incident involved Alexandre Baron, Zach Holden, and Hunter McElrea. Baron got a good jump from his seventh starting spot and as the No. 14 Legacy Autosport car first bounced off Holden on his right before making contact with McElrea and taking flight.

Alexandre Baron goes for a wild ride in a Turn 1, Lap incident in the first USF2000 race of the weekend (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Holden and McElrea were both able to continue.

As the field was circulating under yellow rookie Team E-JAY driver Nate Aranda made contact with Jack William Miller. The No. 69 “caught air” and slammed back into the track.

With two incidents to clean-up, the race was red flagged.

Aranda was tended to by the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team and was taken the six blocks to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for evaluation. The 18-year-old was complaining of back pain and has not been cleared to drive.

The top 10 when the red flag came out were Eves, Sulaiman, McElrea, Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Holden, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Manuel Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport), Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports) and Jose Sierra (Legacy Autosport).

When the field went back to green on Lap 5, Eves was able to get a good start and pull out to a comfortable lead.

The New Albany, Ohio native, saw his lead disappear when the yellow flag came out for Cabrera. The No.90 stopped on track in Turn 5, and the Mexican driver was forced to retire from the race with mechanical issues.

Went back to green Eves got a good start.

The top ten when the race went back to green on Lap 9 were Eves, Sulaiman, McElrea, Holden, Rasmussen, Bruna Tomaselli (Pabst Racing), Kaminsky, Sierra, Sundaramoorthy, and Gold.

Kaminsky and Sierra were fighting for the sixth position when the two made contact in Turn 1 and collected an innocent Tomaselli. All three drivers were able to continue, but Kaminsky lost a lap after pitting for repairs, while Sierra was given a drive-thru penalty for avoidable contact.

Darren Keane (Cape Motorsports), who was forced to start 19th after a malfunctioning transponder in the first qualifying session had moved into the top ten by this point in the race and ended up finishing seventh. The 19-year-old ended up with the fastest lap of the race at 73.1602

Eves held a comfortable 1.8 second lead over Sulaiman with five minutes left in the race that was initially scheduled for 20 laps or 40-minutes. McElrea and Rasmussen were filling up the Mexican driver’s mirrors.

Eves was forced to make one more restart when Miller had an incident in Turn 10. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to clear the No. 40 quickly and the green and white flags were shown from the starters stand.

Eves was able to hold off Sulaiman one last time, and no positions changed in the one-lap run to the checkered flag.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen RacePark Race 1 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 18 Laps
2 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 0.4372
3 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1.3548
4 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1.4754
5 27 Zach Holden BN Racing 1.9761
6 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 3.1984
7 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 3.6570
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 4.1889
9 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 4.7059
10 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 5.0711
11 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 5.3804
12 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development 5.6822
13 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 6.0659
14 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 6.9499
15 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 7.3308
16 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing -1 LAP
17 77 Jose Sierra Legacy Autosport -2 LAPS
18 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports -4 LAPS
19 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport -13 LAPS
20 69 Nate Aranda Team E JAY Racing -17 LAPS
21 14 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport -18 LAPS

The St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting Race 2 gets the green flag at 12:20 pm tomorrow.

Cape Motorsports starts season with a pair of poles. Rookie Eves on the pole in race #1. Keane rebounds for the pole in race #2

 

USF2000 Race #1 Qualifyng

Braden Eves, who is making his second appearance in a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship used a last-second lap to grab his first career Road To Indy pole.

It’s the first pole for Cape Motorsports in their hometown race since 2013, and the sixth for the team on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

The first of two red flags in the session came out five minutes into the 20-minute late afternoon session when the No. 40 of Jack William Miller, who had the ninth quickest lap in Practice #1, made contact with concrete barriers in Turn 3.

At that point of the session, the top five were: Hunter McElrea, Christian Rasmussen, Colin Kaminsky, Manuel Sulaiman, and Alexandre Baron.

The 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit went back to green with eight minutes remaining but was only active for three minutes before the second red flag of the session came out when Newman Wachs Racing rookie made light left rear contact with the wall.

At that point, the Pabst Racing quartet held down four of the top five with Sulaiman sandwiched between the top two of McElrea, and Kaminsky and their teammates Bruna Tomaselli and Yuven Sundaramoorthy in fourth and fifth.

The green flag came out one last time with three minutes remaining for an out lap and one flying lap.

At the end of the flying lap rookie, Braden Eves quick lap of 63.528 seconds was faster than McElrea by a tenth-of-a-second.

The top 10 drivers – Eves, McElrea, Sulaiman, Zach Holden, Kaminsky, Tomaselli, Baron, Sundaramoorthy, Rasmussen and Manuel Cabrera – were all within one second of Eves.

Three drivers did not register as turning any laps in the session.

Darren Keane, the quickest driver in Practice #1, had a transponder issue and will have to start near the rear of the 21-car grid. Rookie Eduardo Barrichello had the same fate befall him.

TSO Ladder caught up with Keane after the session, and Cape Motorsports driver knows he has his work cut out for him, but at the same time was looking forward to having the opportunity to work on his passing.

Matthew Round-Garrido, was dealing with a throttle sensor issue that persisted from the first practice session and was unable to turn any laps.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Andersen RacePark Qualifying 1 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:13.528 –.—- 7
2 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:13.650 0.1227 11
3 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:13.689 0.1608 8
4 27 Zach Holden BN Racing 1:13.718 0.1904 8
5 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:13.744 0.2159 11
6 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:13.851 0.3235 10
7 14 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport 1:13.879 0.3511 8
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:14.332 0.8042 9
9 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:14.379 0.8510 7
10 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:14.629 1.1016 4
11 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:14.698 1.1701 8
12 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 1:14.974 1.4466 4
13 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 1:15.461 1.9333 8
14 77 Jose Sierra Legacy Autosport 1:15.688 2.1606 7
15 69 Nate Aranda Team E JAY Racing 1:15.738 2.2101 8
16 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:16.303 2.7753 4
17 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:17.703 4.1749 2
18 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 1:20.403 6.8748 5
19 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports No Time
20 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development No Time
21 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports No Time

USF2000 Race #2 Qaulifying

For the second straight day, USF2000 qualifying was a disjointed session that was interrupted by a pair of red flags.

And also, for the second straight day, a last-second hot lap by a Cape Motorsports driver captured the coveted inside front row starting spot.

This time it was Darren Keane, who’s lap of 62.653 him a dominant pole. The 19-year-old’s lap was over three-tenths ahead of his teammate and Race #1 pole-sitter Braden Eves.

This is the first career poll for Keane, and the seventh at Cape Motorsports’ home track.

The 20-minute session was only a few minutes old when the red flag came out when Manuel Sulaiman, who will start Friday’s first USF2000 race from the inside of the second row, hit the tire barriers. The No. 12 DEForce Racing USF-17 sustained damage to the left rear and was not able to continue.

The green flag came out with just over half of the twenty minutes session remaining on the clock, but that didn’t last long.

The red flag flew again after only three minutes of green flag running when rookie Eduardo Barrichello’s No. 41 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports machine came to a halt on track.

The top 10 after one green flag lap were Alexandre Baron (Legacy Autosport), Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Keane, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Eves, Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Bruna Tomaselli (Pabst Racing), Zach Holden (BN Racing) and Matthew Round-Garrido (Jay Howard Driver Development)

The efficient AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was able to move the stricken car quickly and the track went back green for a four-minute pole shootout.

Baron was the first to improve his time, but was quickly bumped by Kaminsky first and Keane second.

On the second flying lap, McElrea was the first to jump to the provisional pole, but it was Keane who eventually ended up in the top spot.

The second row is made up of Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Rasmussen and Legacy Autosport veteran Baron.

The Pabst Racing quartet of McElrea, Kaminsky, Tomaselli and Sundaramoorthy will all start in the top ten with Holden and Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing).

St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting Race 2 Qualifying Results.

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:12.653 –.—- 8
2 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:13.016 0.3627 8
3 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.018 0.3643 8
4 14 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport 1:13.232 0.5782 8
5 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:13.239 0.5859 8
6 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:13.251 0.5975 9
7 27 Zach Holden BN Racing 1:13.409 0.7553 8
8 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 1:13.510 0.8566 8
9 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:13.545 0.8920 8
10 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:13.594 0.9407 8
11 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development 1:13.725 1.0720 8
12 77 Jose Sierra Legacy Autosport 1:13.853 1.1997 8
13 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:13.902 1.2484 8
14 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:14.206 1.5530 8
15 69 Nate Aranda Team E JAY Racing 1:14.529 1.8755 8
16 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 1:14.596 1.9422 8
17 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 1:14.784 2.1311 8
18 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:14.895 2.2421 8
19 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:16.280 3.6268 8
20 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing No Time
21 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 7:12.191 0.0000 2

The first USF2000 race of the year gets the green flag at 11:45 am.

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

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A pair of veterans, Darren Keane (USF2000) and Parker Thompson (Indy Pro 2000) lead Road To Indy practice in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship was the first INDYCAR sanctioned series to officially kick off their season in preparation for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Andersen RacePark. The sky was a brilliant blue with no clouds and the temperature just cracking 70F.

It was not a surprise two quickest laps of the first USF2000 practice session of the season was led by a pair of veterans. Cape Motorsports’ Darren Keane led the way with a lap of 74.056 seconds. The lap was five-hundredths quicker that track record holder Alexandre Baron.

DEForce Racing rookie Manuel Sulaiman, who is making his first ever start on a street course, ended the session with the third quickest lap.

Rookie Braden Eves (Cape Motorsports) and veteran Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing) led a pair of Aussie rookies, Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) and Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing).

The first red flag of the session and season came out only five minutes into the lone 30-minute practice session for an incident with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Matthew Round-Garrido.

At that early part of the session, the top three were Baron, Keane, and McElrea.

The green flag came back out five minutes later and times began to drop as drivers got their Cooper Tire slicks up the correct operating temperature.

The second red flag came out with ten minutes remaining. It was veteran Darren Keane that had the quickest lap at 74.4896 seconds. Baron, MeElrea, Colin Kaminsky and Manuel Sulaiman made up the remainder of the top five.

The track went green again with six minutes remaining and was immediately busy with the buzzing of twenty Elite Engine 2.0 liter power plants.

At the end of the session, 11 of the 19 drivers that turned laps at speed were within one second of Keane’s fast lap.

USF2000 Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Practice #1 timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:14.056 –.—- 16
2 14 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport 1:14.113 0.0571 16
3 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:14.253 0.1967 17
4 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:14.363 0.3067 16
5 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:14.378 0.3221 17
6 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:14.389 0.3328 16
7 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 1:14.711 0.6547 16
8 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:14.895 0.8387 17
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:14.976 0.9196 16
10 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:15.103 1.0466 16
11 27 Zach Holden BN Racing 1:15.138 1.0815 14
12 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:15.443 1.3869 16
13 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:15.552 1.4963 15
14 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:15.555 1.4994 14
15 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 1:16.572 2.5157 15
16 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 1:16.741 2.6849 15
17 69 Nate Aranda Team E JAY Racing 1:16.781 2.7251 14
18 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:17.111 3.0550 16
19 77 Jose Sierra Legacy Autosport 1:22.714 8.6576 2
20 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development No Time
21 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development No Time

The USF2000 series has a twenty-minute qualifying for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg rolls off at 4:45 pm.

Parker Thompson, who is on a one event deal with rookie team Abel Motorsports served notice that he left the cold and snow of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada for the warmth of the “Sunshine City,” for one reason. To have fun (and maybe win too).

The 21-year-old’s quick lap at 58.7842 seconds was almost eight-tenths ahead of his next closest competitor, Juncos Racing rookie Rasmus Lindh.

Lindh led a sextet of drivers of drivers covered by a half second that included Lindh, his teammate Sting Ray Robb, Moisés de la Vara (DEForce Racing), Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport), Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport) and Nikia Lastochkin (Exclusive Autosport).

The second rung of the Road To Indy, the newly renamed Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, took to the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit 15 minutes after the smaller sibling.

The 14 PM-18 entries quickly got to work on the tricky street circuit with veterans Sting Ray Robb, and Nikia Lastochkin joined by rookies Rasmus Lindh and Kyle Kirkwood at the top of the timing screens.

At the half-way point of the 30-minute session, Thompson went to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 69.320 seconds and was joined in the sub-70 second club by Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport) and Robb. Veterans Moisés de la Vara and Lastochkin rounded out the top five.

With just under five minutes remaining in the session, Thompson was the first driver to turn a lap under 79-seconds and went quicker than that on his next lap.

Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products Practice #1 timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 8 Parker Thompson Abel Motorsports 1:08.784 –.—- 23
2 10 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing 1:09.578 0.7941 21
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:09.648 0.8637 22
4 6 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:09.649 0.8647 23
5 68 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport 1:09.756 0.9720 23
6 28 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport Racing 1:09.882 1.0982 19
7 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport 1:09.891 1.1065 23
8 7 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:10.107 1.3226 22
9 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing/Jay Howard Driver Development 1:10.430 1.6459 22
10 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:11.070 2.2853 21
11 5 Damiano Fioravanti RP Motorsport Racing 1:11.398 2.6136 20
12 91 Parker Locke Exclusive Autosport 1:11.866 3.0814 22
13 83 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing! 1:18.365 9.5812 20
14 98 Phillippe Denes Fatboy Racing! No Time

The Indy Pro 2000 series has a 20-minute qualifying session for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Allied Building Products rolls off at 5:20 pm.

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Previewing the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season and opener in St. Petersburg, Fla.

By Steve Wittich

The bottom rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder begins their season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. for the sixth straight year.

The 2019 season is the 10th anniversary of the series rebirth under the leadership of Dan Andersen and Andersen Promotions. That season began with a Sage Karam victory in St. Petersburg.

Sage Karam is congratulated by Marco Andretti after winning the first USF2000 race since 2006. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The first race of 2019 is the seventh time that the series will start their year on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit, surpassing the six openers at the Sebring International Raceway. It will be the 16th time that the USF2000 championship begins their season in the Sunshine State.

A total of seven different teams have won races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. Cape Motorsports leads all teams with seven.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races winners on the Streets Of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Year Driver Team
2018 Race #2 Alex Baron Swan-RJB Motorsports
2018 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports
2017 Race #2 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports
2017 Race #1 Robert Megennis Team Pelfrey
2016 Race #2 Yufeng Luo Pabst Racing
2016 Race #1 Jordan Lloyd Pabst Racing
2015 Race #2 Jake Eidson Pabst Racing
2015 Race #1 Jake Eidson Pabst Racing
2014 Race #2 RC Enerson Team E
2014 Race #1 Victor Franzoni Afterburner Autosport
2013 Race #2 Scott Hargrove Cape Motorsports
2013 Race #1 Scott Hargrove Cape Motorsports
2012 Race #2 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports
2012 Race #1 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports
2011 Race #2 Petri Suvanto Cape Motorsports
2011 Race #1 Spencer Pigot Andretti Autosport
2010 Race #2 Sage Karam Andretti Autosport
2010 Race #1 Sage Karam Andretti Autosport

Winning the first race of the year is no guarantee of a championship

A baker’s dozen of the 31 champions won the first race of the season, including four times in nine seasons since the series was reborn in 2010. Last year’s champion Kyle Kirkwood was the first driver since 2013 to accomplish the feat.

YEAR DRIVER
1990 Vince Puleo
1991 Craig Taylor
1993 (SCCA) Ernest Skiles
1993 (USAC EAST) Chris Simmons
1998 David Besnard
2000 Aaron Justus
2002 Bryan Sellers
2005 Jay Howard
2006 J.R. Hildebrand
2010 Sage Karam
2012 Matthew Brabham
2013 Scott Hargrove
2018 Kyle Kirkwood

While winning the first race of the year, is no guarantee you’ll win the championship and scholarship, it is a solid indicator that you’ll have a good season. Since 2010, the winner of the season-opening race has an average championship finish of 2.8, and has finished no worse than sixth.


Does previous experience matter?

The 21 entries include seven veterans and 14 rookies.

In the four seasons before Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood’s championships in 2017 and 2018, the scholarship was the domain of veteran drivers.

The seven veterans combine for only 122 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts, with Bruna Tomaselli’s 25 starts the most of the USF2000 field.


Race weekend basics

Each entry can utilize three new sets of Cooper Tire slicks as well as one set of used/scuffed tires from the test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Race name #1: St Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen RacePark Race 1
Race name #2: St Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting Race 2

Race #1 length: 20 laps or 40 minutes
Race #2 length: 25 laps or 40 minutes

Drivers failing to slow at least 15% in a timing sector with a local yellow will be subject to a two-place grid spot penalty 

Drivers who fail to heed the checkered flag at the end of a session will receive a two-grid spot penalty

Causing one red flag during a session will result in a driver losing their fastest lap

Causing a second red flag during the same session will wipe out all of drivers laps and they will be parked for the remainder of the session

Driver points are distributed as follows: 30 – 25 – 22 – 19 – 17 – 15 -14 – 13 – 12 – 11 – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – an additional one point will be awarded to the pole sitter, to the driver who leads the most laps, and to the driver who turns the quickest race lap


Watch the 2018 races

Race #1

Race #2


Other notes

  • Drivers starting the NTT IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg, Fla. who raced on the lowest rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder include Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, Spencer Pigot, and Zach Veach.
  • Alex Baron set the qualifying (72.2574 seconds) and race (72.2664) track records in 2018.
  • Six different teams occupied the six podiums spots in 2018. Those teams were Cape Motorsports, DEForce Racing, Exclusive Autosport, Newman Wachs Racing, Pabst Racing, and Swan-RJB Motorsports.
  • Legacy Autosport driver Alex Baron is the only previous winner in this year’s field.
  • The pair of pole sitters from 2018, Jose Sierra and Alex Baron, are both in this years field.
  • Cape Motorsports won five straight poles but is looking to start on the inside of row one for the first time since Scott Hargrove started on pole in the second race of 2013.
  • Only a pair of the previous 18 USF2000 races in St. Petersburg, Fla. have run caution free and the race averages 4.2 laps of caution. There has been a first lap caution a somewhat surprisingly low 39% (seven) of the races.
  • All 18 races have ended under green flag conditions.

2019 season preview

We appreciate newcomer Hunter McElrea summing up the USF2000 field perfectly for us, saying:

“It’s going to be a really stacked field. I’m really excited to get going. There is a lot of talent as you expect. There are a lot of champions from around the world, and all of them want to get to IndyCar. This is obviously the place you go when you want to start your career towards that goal. I’m really excited to get going.”

Here are your team-by-team and driver-by-driver previews.


Cape Motorsports

All roads to the year-end prize package for winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, worth over $389,000, go through the Cape Motorsports shop located only five-miles for the downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. street circuit.

The squad that is led by brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape has won eight straight drivers championships and 13 USF2000 drivers championships. The last driver that did not drive for the long-time team was Sage Karam, who won the championship with Andretti Autosport in 2010.

After running as a one-car team last year “The Capes” return to a more tradition three-car squad in 2019.

Darren Keane, a 19-year-old, is the most experienced of the trio of drivers, making 23 starts over the 2017 and 2018 USF2000 Seasons. The Deerfield Beach, Fla. native has one podium, three top-five finishes, and five top-tens.

The No. 2 from the Cape Motorsports stable piloted by veteran Darren Keane during testing on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The University of Florida engineering student was quick in off-season testing and most recently led the final series test before the season begins. That test at Homestead-Miami Speedway was also topped by a pair of Cape Motorsports championship-winning drivers in 2017 (Oliver Askew) and 2018 (Kyle Kirkwood).

“There’s pressure, but you can either crack under it or use it to your advantage,” said Keane, who started his season last with a podium in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I’ve been testing with the team for a while and I know they’re going to get the best out of me, and if they’re pushing me it’s because they know I have more. It’s all positive pressure. And I love going to St. Pete. I love street courses and being the opener of the IndyCar season brings so many fans out. It’s a great event.”

Team USA Scholarship winner Braden Eves made a pair of USF2000 starts at the season finale in Portland, Ore. in 2018, finishing an impressive sixth in his series debut. The 19-year-old won once and stood on the podium in two partial seasons of F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda action.

The third member of the team, one of two 14-year-olds on the starting grid in St. Petersburg, is Reece Gold. The driver from Miami, Fla. won the $100,000 driver development award for winning the 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Championship Series. Gold, who will pilot the No. 3 won five races and finished on the podium 13-times in the premier open-wheel school in the United States.

Keane finished on the podium in the first race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in the 2018 championship opening event and should have an early edge on his teammates, who will both be making their first street course starts.

The team, who along with a series seven leading wins in their home race also leads all teams in poles (five), podiums (19) and laps led (134).


Pabst Racing

Pabst Racing has won the last two USF2000 team championships but is still looking for their first driver’s championship. They have been close, with three-second place finishes (Rasmus Lindh, Rinus VeeKay & Jake Eidson) in the last four seasons.

Second generation team owner Augie Pabst III has paired a couple of seasoned veterans with a pair of promising rookies in his quest to win the squads first driver’s championship.

Bruna Tomaselli, a 21-year-old who drove for Team Pelfrey in 2018, comes into the championship with extra motivation after being one of many drivers that were snubbed by the W-Series selection process. The Brazilian driver contested a partial USF2000 season in 2017, before completing the full season in 2018.

The second veteran on the team also went from a part-time 2017 schedule to full time in 2018. Colin Kaminsky, a second-generation racer from Homer Glen, Ill. had a solid second-half of a season last year moving into the top 10 in points with a string of consistent results.

The first of the talented pair of rookies is Hunter McElrea, who won the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout in December.

The 19-year old winner of the 2018 Australian Formula Ford series has ties to three countries with a deep open-wheel and Indy car history.

Hunter McElrea will pilot the Soul Red No. 22 for Pabst Racing (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“I was born in Los Angeles,” explained McElrea. “I’m half-New Zealander and half-American, but I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life. My whole nationality is a little bit confusing, and there have been a few jokes about it.

“I left here when I was very young. To come back here is pretty cool. I wouldn’t say that I always saw myself coming back. It just naturally happened and IndyCar became my goal. One thing led to another, and it all fell into place. I’m glad that it all worked out. It’s really awesome to be here. I’m having so much fun on track, but also seeing all of the different cultures that I’m not used to off-track.”

In three seasons of Formula Ford action in Australia, the son of a team-owner has won an astonishing 34 times and stood on the podium 56 times in 94 races starts.

The team’s second rookie driver has also been a consistent winner in the “Formula Ford” ranks. Yuven Sundaramoorthy, who coincidentally was born in the team’s hometown of Oconomowoc, Wisc. won four times and finished on the podium fifteen times while finishing fourth and third in the F1600 Championship Series over the past two years.

Sundaramoorthy did make three starts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in USF2000 last year, completing every lap and twice finishing in the top ten.

The 2019 event will be Tomaselli’s second trip to St. Petersburg and her seventh-place finish in the first race of the year is her career best.

The 19-year-old Kaminsky had one of his better finishes of the season at St. Pete last year, finishing sixth in the second race of the event.

The team won the last four races on the St. Petersburg, Fla. street circuit with venerable Van Diemen/Elan chassis, but has not been quite as dominant since the move to the USF-17. The team has three podiums in the four races the past two years after standing on the podium six times between the previous two years.


DEForce Racing

The David and Ernesto Martinez led team are starting their third full-time season as part of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

The Angleton, Texas-based team finished third in the USF2000 team points standings last year, and with a strong showing at the recent Homestead-Miami Speedway test are looking to put a driver near the top of the championship table.

Manuel Sulaiman, who led two test sessions and had the second quickest lap time at the Homestead-Miami Speedway test earlier this week, will be the lone USF2000 driver for the team at the season-opening event.

After a stand-out karting career in his home country of Mexico, the 18-year-old moved to the United Kingdom and has contested the last two seasons of the F4 British Championship.

The Puebla, Mexico native has won three of five races and currently leads the North and Central American Formula 4 Championship.

Sulaiman told TSO Ladder that his goal for the season was to, “Try to achieve good results, be consistent, win some races, and maybe win the championship.”

The team prepared quick cars for the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit last year. Jose Sierra started on the pole, and all three drivers started inside the top ten.


Exclusive Autosport

The Canadian team ended their second season of USF2000 action in fourth spot in the team and driver’s (Igor Fraga) championship and have made some significant changes to improve on that position.

The team moved to the Indianapolis, Ind. area and brought on Mirl Swan to manage the operation. Swan, crew chief for 2001 Indy Lights champions Dorricott Racing, was a successful racer before turning his attention to wrenching, engineering, and driver development.

The single car USF2000 team (for St. Pete) will feature returnee Manuel Cabrera. The 18-year-old Mexican driver made seven starts for the team in 2018, finishing in the top 10 in three of his last four starts.

Cabrera had a forgettable event last year, but the team has had a driver finish on the podium the last two years in St. Petersburg, Fla.


BN Racing

The Chicago Ridge, Ill. based BN Racing is starting their second season of USF2000 competition with a two-car assault at the season-opening event.

Anthony Famularo is a 16-year-old who contested a partial season in the Italian Formula 4 Championship last year. The Caracas, Venezuela native was incredibly consistent throughout the recent test at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a season of learning with few mistakes should be the goal.

Hoosier Zach Holden is a late signee for the team who has contested the first five USF2000 races in 2018 with DEForce Racing. Holden’s results did not match his pace, and it will be interesting to watch how the former karting standout performs in his second look at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

The 18-year-old won six races and stood on the podium 15 times on the way to a third-place finish in the 2017 F1600 Championship Series.

Holden had his best qualifying effort of fifth in the first race in St. Petersburg, Fla. last year his best finish (seventh) in the second race.


Newman Wachs Racing

Newman Wachs Racing was founded in 2006 by racer and entrepreneur Eddie Wachs along with racer and actor Paul Newman. The Mundelein, Illinois based team won the 2009 Atlantic Championship and are looking to get back to winning races with a strong driver line-up featuring youth and experience.

At 14-years-old, Nolan Siegel will be the youngest competitor on the Streets Of St. Petersburg. After success in shifter karts, the Tom Dyer mentored driver won the 2018 Sonoma Raceway Formula 3 Series, prompting a move to the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires to accelerate his learning.

The Newman Wachs Racing duo of Cameron Shields (No. 73) and Nolan Siegel (No. 36) work together during testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway prior to the start of the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Joining the relatively inexperienced Siegel is Cameron Shields who has won 52 races in 154 starts in the highly competitive world of Australian open-wheel racing.

Shields, who hails from Toowoomba, Australia, the hometown of NTT IndyCar Series Team Penske driver Will Power, was persuaded to try racing in the U.S.A. by Power’s father, Bob.

Shield’s tested an Indy Pro 2000 car at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test last September but decided that USF2000 would be a better level to start his American career. The 19-year-old ended up with the sixth quickest time during the recent test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


New Teams

A total of four new teams with eight drivers will be on the grid when the season begins on the shores of Tampa Bay.

Two teams have ties to the series. Legacy Autosport has it’s rooted in RJB Motorsports, while Team E-JAY unites former USF2000 team owners Neil Enerson and Jay Green.

The other pair of new teams have migrated to the series from the F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda.


Legacy Autosport

The Legacy in Legacy Autosport begins with three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Louis Meyer and carries through his grandson Louis “Butch” Meyer and great-grandson Louis “Mike” Meyer. Butch and Mike bring decades of racing experience to their new team that includes a pair of experienced Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires drivers.

The first signee for the team was Alex Baron. The Frenchman has four wins, three poles, six podiums and six fastest laps of the race in only 15 starts. Baron was second in points when his 2018 season came to an abrupt end.

The 24-year-old was the only driver not named Kyle Kirkwood to win a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race in 2018 and will be gunning for the championship.

“Of course the main goal is to win the championship,” said the experienced Baron. “We will have to work hard in order to achieve this goal. We have all the tools to thrive. It just a case of using them correctly.”

Recently, the team added Jose Sierra to the squad. Despite being only 19-year-old, the Mexican driver has extensive experience that includes: two years of French Formula 4, two years of the North and Central American Formula 4 Championship where he finished second both times.

Well everyone has the same goal, win,” said Sierra when asked what his goal for the season is. “I’m sure the team is doing everything to have the best car out on the track. I’m looking forward to the future and grow together with Legacy Autosport.”

Both drivers had success at the season-opening event last year. Sierra started on the pole and finished second in the first race of the season, while Baron won the second race from pole and set the quickest race lap in both races.

The duo is excited to work with another experienced driver with Baron saying:

“Obviously, it will help. Jose was able to run the full championship last year so it will be great to have his feedback on races that I wasn’t able to attend. I also have experience, but until this year I wasn’t able to complete a full season since my return in 2017 after a three-year halt. It would be naive of me to underestimate rookies, the Road to Indy ladder is always filled with talented drivers, so experienced or not, we will have to be on top of our game.”

Sierra added:

“It’s great! We can grow and develop the car better, and we are two drivers that work hard to make this possible.”


Team E-JAY

The combination of Neil Enerson (Team E) and Jay Green (JAY Motorsports) melds together a pair of race winning USF2000 team owners to provide a car for newcomer Nate Aranda.

Aranda is a graduate of the Lucas Oil Formula Car Championship Series winning one race and finishing on the podium in four races during the 2018 season.

Christophe Boisclair, who engineered Igor Fraga to fourth in 2018 and Parker Thompson to third with Exclusive Autosport, will head the team’s technical department.


Jay Howard Driver Development

Jay Howard is the first of two Indy car drivers that have added USF2000 to a pedigree that began with F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda.

Jay Howard Driver Development enters their first year in the Road To Indy as a three-car team for rookie drivers Matthew Round-Garrido, Christian Rasmussen and Christian Bogle.

The trio of drivers may be rookies in USF2000, but all three are experienced drivers.

Round-Garrido, from Stourbridge, England has won six Formula Ford races over the past two seasons, finishing third in the most recent edition of the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship.

A successful career in European karting led Christian Rasmussen into formula cars in 2016, where he finished second in the Formula Ford Denmark Championship. After a third-place finish in the F4 Danish Championship, the 19-year-old made a move to the United States to partner with Jay Howard Driver Development in the F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda.

The Copenhagen, Denmark native won five times, stood on the podium eight times and collected four fastest race laps on the way to a third-place finish.

Team owner Howard won nine of 12 races and the 2005 USF2000 Championship.

“It’s great to have Jay,” explained Rasmussen when asked about working with team owner that has won the championship. “I worked with him last year as well. He’s a great teacher and gives me all the small tips and tricks for going fast on the track. I really enjoy working with him.”

Christian Bogle, who will be spending his second season with Jay Howard Driver Development, is planning on contesting the USF2000 and US F4 series to gain as much seat time as possible.


Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

Last, but certainly not least is the second team owned by a former Indy car driver to make the jump from the F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.

The team co-owned by three-time Indianapolis 500 starter, Dr. Jack Miller and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri will field a team with a pair of second-generation drivers.

Despite being only 15-years-old, Jack William Miller already has two years of F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda experience. The Indianapolis, Ind. born pilot finished the recent Homestead-Miami Speedway test with third quickest lap in the final session.

Sao Paulo, Brazil-born Eduardo Barrichello heads into the season on a positive note. The 17-year-old had the fifth quickest lap overall and topped the timesheet in the final session of the recent test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“Obviously, I’m a race car driver, and I want to win as many races as I can,” said Barrichello. “But, I’m a rookie. I’ve never been to St. Petersburg, so I don’t know what to expect, so I hope it goes well.”


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

Darren Keane and Cape Motorsports turn quickest lap at USF2000 testing, DEForce Racing rookie Manuel Sulaiman leads two sessions.

For the third straight year, it was a driver from the Cape Motorsports stable that led final tune-up before the season-opening Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race of the season.

Darren Keane, from nearby Boca Raton, Fla. turned the quickest lap of the test in the third session at 84.5314 seconds. In 2017 it was eventual series champion Oliver Askew, and in 2018 it was 12 race winner Kyle Kirkwood that led the first official test of the season for Cape Motorsports.

Darren Keane wheeling the No. 2 USF-17 from the Cape Motorsports to the quickest time in testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“This was an important test for us, with all the other cars out there,” said Keane. “We wanted to make an impression this weekend, knowing that it would stick with us and set a tone for the season – and I think we did that. I feel more confident in general now, especially given all the resources the team has. We trust each other a lot, and we’re super confident in each other’s ability. We’re going into St. Pete with a clear mind, and we know what we have to do.”

That doesn’t tell the complete story of a very competitive test that had four different drivers from three different teams lead one of the five sessions. DEForce Racing rookie Manuel Sulaiman was a slim five-hundredths of a second behind Keane, and the Mexican driver was the only pilot to lead more than one session.

“We knew it was going to be a bit difficult, but we were prepared for this,” explained Sulaiman to TSO Ladder. “Not knowing this track was a big challenge and we managed it quite well. The team worked really, really well, I did a good job, and that gave us a good result”.

At the end of the two-day test, six drivers were within a half-second of Keane’s best lap including Miller Vinatieri Motorsports rookie Eduardo Barrichello. The Brazilian ended the first day with the 15th quickest time but rebounded on the second day to lead the final session.

“I think it’s pretty positive to start like that,” explained the 17-year old. “Yesterday we were second last with old tires. I didn’t know what to expect. This is my first time here. I’ve never driven here. It’s my third or fourth time in the car, and I’m still learning it. Yesterday, I was two seconds off, and today I finished the last session in P1, so I think it’s pretty positive. The team and I worked really hard through the night to get some stuff covered.”

3rd session notes

The third USF2000 session of the test and first of the day began under slightly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Darren Keane, Manuel Sulaiman, Christian Rasmussen, and Braden Eves all led the 45-minute session at some point, but it was Keane’s 17th of 19 laps, timed at 84.5314 seconds that ended up as the quickest of the session, day and test.

The coolest session of the test yielded the quickest lap of the test for 11 of the 18 drivers.

In the session, the top six times were within a half of a second of Keane and 13 of 17 were within one second.

Drivers from seven different teams set the top seven times.

The 17 drivers that took part (Jay Howard Driver Development’s Christian Bogle had a previous commitment) turned a total of 326 laps with rookie Eduardo Barrichello turning the most laps at 25.

The red flag came out with seven minutes remaining in the session when Exclusive Autosport’s Manuel Cabrera brushed the wall. The No. 90 USF-17 only sustained damage to the wheels and was back on track for the next session.

The green flag came back out with four minutes remaining.

4th session notes

Cone vs. driver vs. race control is the title of the fourth act of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Manuel Sulaiman led his second session of the test as 15 drivers completed 252 laps of the 2.1 mile, Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was also the second session that saw the top five lap times represented by five different teams.

Manuel Sulaiman, a veteran of two seasons of British F4 competition, led two session in the first official test of the 2019 USF2000 season with DEForce Racing (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

However, the story of the session was a series of drive-thru penalties and a red flag for a time-out.

During Saturday morning’s driver meeting, a point of emphasis was not hitting the cones as the drivers came off the road course onto the front straight because it could damage the cars and track. However, getting a wider exit onto the front straight, dramatically improved lap times.

The cone was hit and replaced multiple times, and each time it was pushed out of the way, the race car drivers being race car drivers utilized the quickest way around the track.

After a few dozen drive-thru penalties for track limits, race control decided to bring the session to a stop to let the drivers know that their actions would not be tolerated.

5th session notes

The final 45-minute session had the entire Pabst Racing team sit out because the team had decided they had learned all they could learn from a track that doesn’t mimic any that they will race at this season.

The session was led by a rookie driver for a first-year team. Miller Vinatieri Motorsports Eduardo Barrichello was the only driver to go under 85 second during the warmest session of the test.

The 18 drivers completed 2,641.8 miles which equates to 1,258 laps.

USF2000 Homestead-Miami Speedway testing combined time sheet from all sessions

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE LAPS
1 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:24.531 –.—- 67
2 12 Manual Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:24.584 0.053 76
3 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:24.657 0.126 77
4 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:24.800 0.269 64
5 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:24.865 0.334 101
6 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 1:24.931 0.400 95
7 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:25.174 0.643 55
8 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:25.191 0.660 77
9 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:25.194 0.663 102
10 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.199 0.668 61
11 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:25.339 0.808 30
12 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:25.385 0.854 56
13 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 1:25.398 0.867 72
14 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:25.502 0.971 43
15 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:25.720 1.189 68
16 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 1:26.046 1.515 104
17 69 Nate Aranda Team E – JAY 1:26.126 1.595 105
18 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.772 2.241 5

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Kyle Kirkwood and Manuel Sulaiman lead first day of Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

For the third straight year, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires Series are officially starting their season on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. 

The 2.1 mile, Homestead-Miami Speedway 14-turn road course has hosted a number of different road racing series including ACCUS Florida Winter Series, Formula Atlantics Championship, F4 United States Championship Powered by Honda, FIA GT, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, SCCA US Road Racing Championship, Trans-Am, and US F2000 Winterfest. The 14-turn circuit features nine left-hand turns and six right-hand turns.

Despite not having any track-time until 12:30 pm on Saturday afternoon, the group of USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 drivers were kept busy during the preceding 24 hours. 

On Friday afternoon the drivers took part in media training from NBC Sports Announcer Kevin Lee and also from Road To Indy TV. 

The first order of business on Saturday morning after going on a track walk was their first official weigh-in of the season. 

The 30 or so drivers were then walked through what is expected of them on track by Road To Indy Director of Competition Tony Cotman and Indy Pro 2000 Race Director Johnny Unser. 


Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 

The dozen Indy Pro 2000 drivers began their on-track portion of the day in the heat of the day at 1:45 pm.

Veteran Road To Indy competitor Nikia Lastochkin, who made the switch to Exclusive Autosport this year was the quickest driver in his No. 90 2.0L powered Tatuus PM-18. The Russian’s fastest lap was a scant three-hundredths quicker than the pilot of the Exclusive Autosport No. 90 last year, Parker Thompson.

The Canadian is testing with Abel Motorsports this weekend (emphasis on only testing at this point), and this is the first time that the 21-year-old (his birthday is today) has been in an open wheel car since testing a Team Pelfrey Indy Lights machine at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in September.

The entire session was run under green flag conditions, and the top 10 in the early session were separated a second.

Much like the second USF2000 session, the track was relatively quiet early on, but once the air started to cool just a little, new sets of Cooper Tire slicks were bolted on for qualifying simulations.

And if those final new tire runs are any indication, the Indy Pro 2000 season will be tightly contested with the top six drivers ending up only two-tenths behind Kirkwood.

Newly signed Kyle Kirkwood and his Soul Red No. 28 ended the session with a lap at 80.372 seconds, only three-hundredths ahead of Juncos Racing veteran Sting Ray Robb.

Abel Motorsports Kyle Kirkwood, the reigning USF2000 champion led the first day of Indy Pro 2000 testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports) and Moisés de la Vara (DEForce Racing) all turned in laps below 81 seconds.

Indy Pro 2000 Homestead-Miami Speedway Test Day #1 Combined Timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 28 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport Racing 1:20.372 –.—- 31
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:20.402 0.0301 39
3 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:20.550 0.1775 31
4 10 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing 1:20.560 0.1879 41
5 8 Parker Thompson Abel Motorsports 1:20.611 0.2392 35
6 6 Moses de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:20.627 0.2546 27
7 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport 1:20.778 0.4060 38
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:21.484 1.1120 49
9 5 Damiano Fioravanti RP Motorsport Racing 1:21.611 1.2390 39
10 91 Parker Locke Exclusive Autosport 1:22.281 1.9090 40
11 83 Charles Finelli Fatboy Racing! 1:25.604 5.2320 45
12 68 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport transponder transponder transponder

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship

Veteran Bruna Tomaselli, who is driving for Pabst Racing this season, was the first of 2.0L Tatuus USF-17 cars on track for the first official test session of the 2019 season.

Outside of a brief red-flag for a tow-in of the No. 2 Cape Motorsports car of Darren Keane due to an electrical issue with 20 minutes remaining, the session was run under green flag conditions.

The majority of the session was led by Braden Eves, who made a pair of starts in the 2018 USF2000 finale at Portland International Raceway. The lap of 85.426 seconds by the Cape Motorsports driver that was set on only his second of eighteen laps and ended up being the most rapid of the one-hour session.

The top five drivers in the early session represented five different teams (Cape Motorsports, DEForce Racing, Newman Wachs Racing, Pabst Racing, and Jay Howard Driver Development) and were separated by just over a half-second.

The 16 drivers that turned laps in the first of five test sessions completed 259 circuits of The 2.1 mile, Homestead-Miami Speedway 14-turn road course.

The second and final USF2000 session of the day began with temperatures in the mid-80s and the famous Florida sun shining brightly.

DEForce Racing rookie Manuel Sulaiman’s eighth of ten laps clocked in at 84.584 seconds, the quickest lap of the session and the first day of testing.

Manuel Sulaiman, a veteran of two seasons of British F4 competition, led the first official test of the 2019 USF2000 season with DEForce Racing (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Once again, the session had a lone red flag with 20 minutes remaining. This red was for a run-away orange cone that found it’s way onto the racing line.

With each team receiving four sets of fresh Cooper Tires for the five sessions, the warmest session of the first day saw somewhat limited running with 125 laps completed.

In total, 18 cars took to the track on the first day of testing and turned a total of 435 laps.

The top seven drivers were all within one second of each other, and 16 of the 18 entries were within 120 seconds.

USF2000 Homestead-Miami Speedway Test Day #1 Combined Timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 12 Manual Sulaiman DEForce Racing 1:24.584 –.—- 24
2 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 1:24.657 0.0733 32
3 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:24.897 0.3140 22
4 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.011 0.4279 11
5 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:25.339 0.7558 19
6 5 Matt Round-Garrido Jay Howard Driver Development 1:25.381 0.7978 12
7 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 1:25.677 1.0936 28
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:25.719 1.1356 28
9 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 1:25.804 1.2203 33
10 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1:25.836 1.2521 22
11 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 1:25.877 1.3231 28
12 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.186 1.6025 34
13 69 Nate Aranda Team E – Jay Racing 1:26.245 1.6618 39
14 28 Anthony Famularo BN Racing 1:26.266 1.6822 16
15 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:26.617 2.0333 33
16 36 Nolan Siegal Newman Wachs Racing 1:26.619 2.0358 39
17 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.772 2.1883 5
18 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 1:27.331 2.7477 10

Both series are back on track for a trio of session tomorrow.


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

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MRTI – Chris Griffis Memorial Test – Saturday – Update #1 – USF2000 session #1 and Cape Motorsports drivers

By Steve Wittich

Good morning from TSO Ladder’s coverage of the Chris Griffis Memorial Test. We’ll make every effort to send an update after each of the nine practice sessions today and also add a note about each team and their drivers throughout the next two days.

Darren Keane (Cape Motorsports) with a lap of 85.013 seconds led the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda practice session at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test.

That lap which is under the race record lap set by Oliver Askew during the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend earlier this year, and was only six-hundredths ahead of Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing).

Rounding out the top five, and all within one second of Keane were: Alex Baron (Legacy Autosport), Tyler O’Connor (Cape Motorsports) and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing).

The first of six Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda practice sessions at the Eighth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test got underway under overcast skies and cool temperatures. The 2018 test is the sixth year that the test is held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

A total of 13 drivers representing six teams turned laps during the first of three Saturday sessions.

The entire session ran under green flag conditions with the baker’s dozen drivers turning a total of 299 laps.

Cape Motorsports with Keane, O’Connor and Colin Kaminsky.

Tyler O’Connor and Darren Keane testing with Cape Motorsports at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test (crappy photo by Steve)

Darren Keane, who led this test last year with Newman Wachs Racing racing, is one of three drivers testing for the Dominic and Nicholas Cape led Cape Motorsports.

Keane, who is coached by Ozz Negri, took part in a dozen USF2000 races this season, collecting one podium, two top fives, and four top 10 finishes.

The St. Petersburg, Fla. based team recently wrapped up their eighth USF2000 drivers championship with Kyle Kirkwood and announced that they would be dropping the Pro Mazda portion of their program to concentrate running a three-car USF2000 squad.

Keane, from Deerfield Beach, Fla. is joined today by Tyler O’Connor.

O’Connor, a Team USA Scholarship finalist, just missed out on the F1600 Formula F Championship by ten points after a 21-race season.

The 21-year-old led the series with seven wins, 13 podiums and eight quickest laps of the race, but fell just short of the championship after suffering some mechanical gremlins. The New Hartford, Conn. driver, only started his racing cars the previous season where he finished third in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series.

Kaminsky will be joining O’Connor tomorrow, while Keane moves on to test Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire with RP Motorsport.

Kaminsky contested the 2018 USF2000 season with DEForce Racing collecting one top five and five top ten finishes on the way to a tenth place finish in the championship.

Saturday – USF2000 – Chris Griffis Memorial Test session #1

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 1:25.013 –.—- 25
2 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1:25.075 0.0618 25
3 7 Alex Baron Legacy Autosport 1:25.840 0.8270 14
4 3 Tyler O’Connor Cape Motorsports 1:25.939 0.9263 25
5 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 1:25.977 0.9643 25
6 77 Andre Castro Legacy Autosport 1:26.031 1.0183 22
7 6 Zach Holden Jay Howard Driver Development 1:26.079 1.0666 22
8 27 James Raven DEForce Racing 1:26.151 1.1384 24
9 24 Logan Cusson Pabst Racing 1:26.399 1.3865 26
10 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1:27.001 1.9878 22
11 12 Francisco Porto DEForce Racing 1:27.271 2.2581 20
12 11 Ryan Bjerke DEForce Racing 1:27.477 2.4640 25
13 5 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 1:28.139 3.1266 24

USF2000 is back on track at noon and 3:15 PM for 45 minutes

MRTI at Portland International Raceway – Sunday – Kirkwood ties J.R. Hildebrand with 12 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda wins

For the 12th time during the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, a similar car and driver visited victory lane.

Kyle Kirkwood, who tied fellow Cape Motorsports driver J.R. Hildebrand’s record of a dozen USF2000 victories in a season. The 19-year-old Floridian started third and won his eighth race that he didn’t start on pole. An impressive feat.

“I got boxed in at the start; I couldn’t make a move to inside or outside,” said Kirkwood. I sat there for one lap… then had that caution. I made a move to outside after the restart; I’m not sure it was the best decision! Because Kaylen got into the back of Rasmus, and that pushed us both off into the access road. We held on to first and second. After that, I caught him up a bit, he made a defensive move into 1, crossed him up through 2, and barely had the defensive line going into 3. It was really close racing but it was awesome.”

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh started on the pole for the third time this season and for the first race led a lap. The rookie didn’t win but did stand on the podium for the fifth time.

Team Pelfrey rookie Julian Van der Watt made some impressive passes on the way to his first Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium.

At precisely 3:30 PM, the final command of “Drivers start your ‘Mazda’ engines” ended the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires era that officially began in 2010.

It was 17-year-old Rasmus Lindh and his 16-year-old teammate Kaylen Frederick that led the field to the green flag to begin the 25 lap race, the final race of a successful Grand Prix of Portland.

The first five drivers were able to make it through Turn 1 cleanly, but behind them Braden Eves, Jose Sierra and Igor Fraga who started in 6th, 7th and 8th attempted to go three-wide into Turn 1 with only Fraga coming out the other side. Eves and Sierra both bounced over the curbs at corner exit. Sierra was able to continue to the pits but was forced to retire.

Three wide going into Turn 1 in the final USF2000 race of the year didn’t work out (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Unfortunately, Eves came to a stop on the side of the track, necessitating a full course caution to retrieve the wounded No. 44 Newman Wachs Racing machine.

As the field took the yellow flag at the end of the first lap, the running order was Lindh, Kaylen Frederick, Kirkwood, Lucas Kohl, Kory Enders, Igor Fraga, Van der Watt, Calvin Ming, Colin Kaminsky, Dakota Dickerson, Kyle Dupell, Russell McDonough, Oscar DeLuzuriaga, Max Peichel, Bruna Tomaselli, Kellen Ritter, Jose Sierra (out) and Braden Eves (out).

Lindh led the field into Turn 1 on the Lap 3 restart, but he was hit from behind by his Pabst Racing teammate Frederick. Lindh made an impressive save of a sideways car but was forced through the run-off with his teammate and Kyle Kirkwood, who smartly avoided the Pabst Racing on Pabst Racing crime by not turning into Turn 1.

The trio came out of the run-off ahead of the field, but Frederick had a damaged wing and was also immediately given a penalty for avoidable contact.

Laps 4, 5, 6, 7 saw a terrific battle between Van der Watt and Fraga for the fourth spot, with the South African and Brazilian trading the place twice before the Team Pelfrey rookie made the final pass on Lap 8.

On the same lap, and just ahead of that battle, Kirkwood made a daring pass Lindh around the outside of Turn 4. Holding off a charge by the Swedish rookie for the rest of the lap before almost tagging the wall at the exit of Turn 12 just before beginning Lap 9.

For the next ten laps, Lindh was able to remain close to the 2018 USF2000 champion, but over the last half-dozen laps, Kirkwood was able to pull away to end up winning by almost 2 seconds.

With five laps remaining Van der Watt executed a textbook Turn 1 pass of Kohl for the final spot on the podium.

That fight allowed Fraga to enter the picture and the No. 91 Exclusive Autosport machine was able to get by the No. 22 Pabst Racing on the outside of Turn 1 just after taking the white flag.

USF2000 Race #2 – unofficial results

P No Name Laps Diff
1 8 Kyle Kirkwood 25
2 23 Rasmus Lindh 25 1.9824
3 80 Julian Van der Watt 25 15.5287
4 91 Igor Fraga 25 18.1541
5 22 Lucas Kohl 25 18.7583
6 21 Calvin Ming 25 19.8343
7 9 Dakota Dickerson 25 23.5956
8 27 Colin Kaminsky 25 24.8352
9 11 Kory Enders 25 26.0110
10 81 Kyle Dupell 25 34.4731
11 29 Russell McDonough 25 36.9515
12 14 Max Peichel 25 37.9926
13 90 Kellen Ritter 25 53.9215
14 38 Oscar DeLuzuriaga 25 68.1197
15 24 Kaylen Frederick 22 3 LAPS
16 82 Bruna Tomaselli 18 Off Course
17 12 Jose Sierra 1 Contact
18 41 Braden Eves Contact
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MRTI at Portland International Raceway – Saturday – Kirkwood wins 10th USF2000 race in a row – Fraga moves to second in the championship

For the 10th time race in a row, Cape Motorsports rookie Kyle Kirkwood stood on the top step of the podium. It’s the 11th win of the year for the 19-year-old moving him one win closer to tying J.R. Hildebrand’s season-long series record of a dozen.

Behind Kirkwood, chaos and excitement was the order of the day.

After running in fourth for most of the race, Igor Fraga took advantage of mistakes by Rasmus Lindh and Kaylen Frederick to grab his fourth podium of the season. The second place finish moves the Japanese born Brazilian driver into second place in the driver’s championship, two points ahead of Lindh and 17 points ahead of Lucas Kohl.

Calvin Ming was one of the more significant movers of the weekend, finishing on the podium after starting ninth.

The first of the six Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races on the docket for the Grand Prix of Portland weekend got underway a little over 20 minutes late due to a chaotic Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race that preceded the 25-lap race.

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda heads to Turn 1 after getting the green flag. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

The front two rows were four wide going into Turn 1, with Kirkwood making it to the corner just ahead of the other three drivers. Just as Frederick, who started on the outside of the first row, was about to turn in for the first corner, he was tapped from behind by his teammate Lucas Kohl.

Frederick was forced to go straight on, but was able to get back on track and was quickly back up to third.

As that action was happening, Lindh was able to get by Kirkwood in Turn 4.

Lindh led the first lap, but Kirkwood was able to go back to the lead at the first corner of Lap 2.

The field settled in for the next few laps, but just at the beginning of Lap 5, Julian Van der Watt and Kohl made contact at the entrance of Turn 2. The Pabst Racing No. 22 of Kohl got the worst of the battle, spinning and falling down the field out of the top 10.

The lead remained steady at just under a second. Lindh was pushing Kirkwood hard while looking for his first win, with the American locking up the brakes headed into The Festival Turns.

At the halfway point of the race, Kirkwood’s lead was still just under eight-tenths of a second. Lindh had the same edge over teammate Frederick. The front three had checked out over fourth place Fraga. Ming had moved up to fifth from his ninth place starting spot. Enders, newcomer Eves, Dickerson, McDonough, and Kohl.

Kohl was able to get around McDonough for ninth, and the BN Racing driver was immediately under pressure from Julian Van der Watt and Colin Kaminsky.

On Lap 18, the No. 80 Team Pelfrey driver Van der Watt and the No. 27 DEForce Racing car of Kaminsky made contact in Turn 2 after Kaminsky clattered over the curbs. Those two were able to continue, but Kaminsky was given a drive-thru penalty for avoidable contact.

Unfortunately, Bruna Tomaselli became high-sided on the curb at the inside of Turn 2 bringing out the lone caution on Lap 19.

The green flag came out with four laps remaining and Pabst Racing teammate Frederick and Lindh went to the outside and inside of Kirkwood. However, both drivers waited too late to brake for the right-hander at the end of the front straight.

Kirkwood showed great patience, allowing Frederick to fly by him on the inside before turning in for the corner.

Their mistakes moved Lindh back to fifth and Frederick to eighth, promoting Fraga and Ming to the final two spots on the podium.

USF2000 Race #1 – Unofficial Results

P No Name Laps Diff
1 8 Kyle Kirkwood 25
2 91 Igor Fraga 25 1.1776
3 21 Calvin Ming 25 2.0184
4 11 Kory Enders 25 2.4571
5 23 Rasmus Lindh 25 2.6887
6 22 Lucas Kohl 25 3.6896
7 41 Braden Eves 25 4.8861
8 24 Kaylen Frederick 25 6.5189
9 29 Russell McDonough 25 8.1267
10 9 Dakota Dickerson 25 8.5992
11 80 Julian Van der Watt 25 9.0778
12 81 Kyle Dupell 25 9.1960
13 90 Kellen Ritter 25 9.5528
14 27 Colin Kaminsky 25 9.9694
15 12 Jose Sierra 25 10.9174
16 38 Oscar DeLuzuriaga 25 12.5774
17 14 Max Peichel 25 12.7718
18 82 Bruna Tomaselli 18 Contact
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