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Road To Indy testing at Mid-Ohio – Frost tops Indy Pro 2000 – Crawford tops USF2000 – championship contenders are all close

By Steve Wittich

A pair of drivers, Danial Frost, and Jak Crawford put behind forgettable weekends in Wisconsin behind them to top the timesheets during a two-day USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Both series will be back at the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course in a month for each series ninth and tenth round.

Whether it occurs in May, June or July, an official test for the bottom two rungs of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires test has been part of the schedule (except in 2017) since 2012.

The schedule included three 45-minutes sessions each day, equaling six total sessions of 4.5 hours of total track time.

Teams were allotted five fresh sets of Cooper Tire slicks as well as having the option to use a carryover set from last weekend at Road America.

Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires testing

Exclusive Autosport rookie Frost, a winner on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval to end the “Month of May, failed to finish either race at Road America last weekend. ‘Winning’ a test only days after is an excellent way to start the second half of the season.

Danial Frost and the his No. 68 Exclusive Autosport PM-18 led two days of Indy Pro 2000 testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Frost’s quickest lap of 76.2167 seconds in Thursday’s fifth session, is below the race track record, set last year by Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay).

The 17-year-old was one of four drivers, who are all in championship contention, to lead one of the six sessions. Current points leader, Juncos Racing rookie Rasmus Lindh, another 17-year-old, led a pair of sessions and ended up with the second quickest time on the combined timesheet.

Parker Thompson, a winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in USF2000, led the opening and closing sessions in his No. 8 Abel Motorsports PM-18 and ended the two-day test with the fourth quickest lap on the combined timesheet.

Double Road America winner and reigning USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood ended up third on the combined timesheet after leading the fourth test session on Thursday morning.

The lone newcomer was Antoine Comeau, a veteran of Radical racing who was testing with the Peter Dempsey owned Turn 3 Motorsport.

The top nine drivers were all within one second of Frost.

A dozen drivers completed 1,441 laps (3,253.8 miles). Frost’s Exclusive Autosport teammate Nikita Lastochkin, who totaled 139 circuits, was the busiest driver.

Indy Pro 2000 session leaders

  • Wednesday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #1 – Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports) – 76.7062 seconds
  • Wednesday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #2 – Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing) – 76.7276 seconds
  • Wednesday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #3 – Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing) – 76.4068 seconds
  • Thursday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #4 – Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport) – 76.3949 seconds
  • Thursday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #5 – Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport) – 76.2167 seconds
  • Thursday – Indy Pro 2000 Test Session #6 – Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports) – 76.8355 seconds

Indy Pro 2000 combined timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM SESSION # BEST TIME (seconds) DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 68 Danial Frost Exclusive Autosport 5 76.2167 136
2 10 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing 5 76.3178 -0.1011 124
3 28 Kyle Kirkwood RP Motorsport 4 76.3949 -0.1782 131
4 8 Parker Thompson Abel Motorsports 4 76.5555 -0.3388 130
5 5 Ian Rodriguez RP Motorsport 2 76.8217 -0.6050 113
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 2 76.8886 -0.6719 124
7 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 2 77.0487 -0.8320 116
8 90 Nikita Lastochkin Exclusive Autosport 6 77.0760 -0.8593 139
9 98 Phillippe Denes Fatboy Racing! 4 77.1436 -0.9269 108
10 6 Moisés de la Vara DEForce Racing 5 77.4538 -1.2371 117
11 3 Antoine Comeau Turn 3 Motorsport 5 77.6405 -1.4238 119
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 2 77.7702 -1.5535 84

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship testing

A late Thursday afternoon thunderstorm ended the two-day test before the bottom rung of the Road To Indy could get on track for their sixth and final session.

DEForce Racing rookie Jak Crawford set the quickest lap of the day during Thursday morning’s fourth session, a lap that was timed at 81.3106 seconds.

14 year-old DEForce Racing rookie was the quickest of 18 drivers during two days of USF2000 testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Championship contender Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) led the second and fifth sessions, while his veteran teammate Colin Kaminsky led the first session on Wednesday morning. Cape Motorsports veteran Darren Keane, who has had the quickest race lap in three of the seven USF2000 races so far this season was the fastest driver in Wednesday afternoon’s third session.

Keane’s teammate and championship leader Braden Eves didn’t lead a session, but the 20-year-old had the second quickest lap on the combined timesheet.

The top four drivers on the combined timesheet, Crawford, Eves, McElrea, and newcomer Kiko Porto, were all within one-tenth of a second.

Porto, a double-winner through the first six races of the F4 United States Championship Powered By Honda, was testing with DEForce Racing and ended up with the fourth quickest time.

The top eight drivers were all within a half-second of the 14-year-old Crawford, with the top 14 within one-second.

The 18 drivers completed a total of 1,767 circuits of the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course. Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Christian Bogle was the busiest driver, completing 129 laps.

USF2000 session leaders

  • Wednesday – USF2000 Test Session #1 – Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing) – 81.9564 seconds
  • Wednesday – USF2000 Test Session #2 – Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) – 81.5681 seconds
  • Wednesday – USF2000 Test Session #3 – Darren Keane (Cape Motorsports) – 81.5927 seconds
  • Thursday – USF2000 Test Session #4 – Jak Crawford (DEForce Racing) – 81.3106 seconds
  • Thursday – USF2000 Test Session #5 – Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) – 81.3468 seconds

USF2000 combined timesheet

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM SESSION # BEST TIME (seconds) DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 52 Jak Crawford DEForce Racing 4 81.3106 109
2 8 Braden Eves Cape Motorsports 4 81.3392 -0.0286 109
3 22 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 5 81.3468 -0.0362 94
4 11 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing 4 81.4018 -0.0912 92
5 23 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 4 81.4806 -0.1700 113
6 2 Darren Keane Cape Motorsports 3 81.5927 -0.2821 108
7 6 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 4 81.6742 -0.3636 118
8 21 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Pabst Racing 5 81.7947 -0.4841 101
9 12 Manuel Sulaiman DEForce Racing 4 81.8750 -0.5644 101
10 41 Eduardo Barrichello Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 4 81.9580 -0.6474 99
11 73 Cameron Shields Newman Wachs Racing 3 82.0283 -0.7177 65
12 24 Bruna Tomaselli Pabst Racing 4 82.0738 -0.7632 102
13 3 Reece Gold Cape Motorsports 4 82.1575 -0.8469 117
14 27 Matthew Round-Garrido BN Racing 5 82.4101 -1.0995 95
15 40 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 4 82.7278 -1.4172 73
16 36 Nolan Siegel Newman Wachs Racing 5 82.8081 -1.4975 117
17 7 Christian Bogle Jay Howard Driver Development 4 82.8691 -1.5585 129
18 77 Timmy Paglusio Jay Howard Driver Development 3 90.1023 -8.7917 25

Both series have two weekends off before they are back on-track again north of the border in Toronto. Practice on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit begins on Friday, July 12, 2019.

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Exclusive Autosport drivers Danial Frost and Manuel Cabrera lead USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 testing at Lucas Oil Raceway

By Steve Wittich

A trio of drivers representing Exclusive Autosport set the pace as the bottom two rungs of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder get prepared for their first oval races of the year on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval.

Danial Frost turned was the fastest in Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires testing, followed by his veteran teammate Nikita Lastochkin. In Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship testing it was Manuel Cabrera that was quickest for the Brownsburg, Ind. based Canadian owned squad.

Each series was allotted three sessions totaling 115 minutes. But, before getting on track, the drivers took part in a mandatory 90-minute oval clinic.

Leading the classroom session of the test was Gerardo Bonilla, Lucas Oil School of Racing Director of Operations and former Indy Pro 2000 driver. Joining Bonilla were 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, five times Indianapolis 500 starter Johnny Unser and NTT IndyCar Series Race Director Kyle Novak.

“It’s good to have someone who is successful to talk to the kids,” explained the 1997 Indy Lights champion. “It was a pleasure to come talk to them – if I put one thing into their heads that will help them drive today and in the race next week, then that’s a good thing. I came to America and went straight into Indy Lights, and I was lucky to have a mentor like (former Tasman Motorsports Team Principal) Steve Horne, and I repeated much of what he told me to the drivers today.

“This is the beauty of being part of the Road to Indy. The ladder series is part of INDYCAR and all the drivers support it. This is the future – in a few years, I’ll be watching the races and I’ll see drivers in the Indy 500 and I can say ‘I remember talking to those kids!’ I think that is why the ladder series has been so strong: everyone puts a lot of effort into making this work. I don’t see anything like this anywhere in the world so to me, this is the best place to be.”

In Indy Pro 2000, 17-year-old Frost led all three sessions by fairly wide margins. His lap of 121.739 mph was 2.73 mph quicker than veteran teammate Lastochkin to serve notice that he will be one of the drivers to beat when the series returns for the Carb Night Freedom 90. For reference, the 12 drivers from Lastochkin on down were separated by a similar 2.97 seconds.

Exclusive Autosport rookie Danial Frost led all three sessions of the Indy Pro 2000 testing on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“Tony gave me confidence in being here this morning,” said Frost after testing, realizing that he still has a lot to learn. “The timing of passing is something I need to learn and his talk this morning helped. It’s nothing like the road course, it’s a totally new thing for me.

“I did a lot of sim work before I came here, to prepare as much as possible. It’s difficult, coming from the road course at Indianapolis to the oval at Lucas Oil. Going left the whole time is much harder than it looks from the outside. Being close to the wall, taking that line to be quick, it’s all a new thing for me.

“Learning the timing of when to get past someone, not getting blocked and losing my momentum, it’s something that Exclusive Autosport has been working on with me. They’re really training me and helping me to make that possible. It was cold this morning, so we’re learning how the car and the tires work at different times of the day, in different conditions. The car is very good, the pace is there, so we just need a bit more on our race craft and we’ll be right there.”

Moisés de la Vara was quick on the Gateway Motorsports Park oval last year, finishing a solid fourth. So, it should be no surprise that the DEForce Racing driver turned in the third quickest time of the session.

Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport) and Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) were the fourth and fifth quickest drivers.

The top two drivers in the championship, Rasmus Lindh and Parker Thompson, were the sixth and eighth quickest drivers, respectively.

The baker’s dozen drivers that took part in the test turned a total of 2,106 laps (1,382.98 miles) with Frost’s 208 circuits leading the way.

Combined timesheet from Indy Pro 2000 testing on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval

Rank

Car

Name

Team

Top Speed (MPH)

Session #

Total Laps

1

68

Danial Frost

Exclusive Autosport

121.739

2

208

2

90

Nikita Lastochkin

Exclusive Autosport

119.008

2

115

3

6

Moisés de la Vara

DEForce Racing

118.936

3

111

4

28

Kyle Kirkwood

RP Motorsport

118.717

3

153

5

51

Jacob Abel

Abel Motorsports

118.675

3

179

6

10

Rasmus Lindh

Juncos Racing

118.517

1

156

7

2

Sting Ray Robb

Juncos Racing

117.685

3

148

8

8

Parker Thompson

Abel Motorsports

117.344

2

139

9

11

Antonio Serravalle

PSerra / Jay Howard Driver Development

116.776

3

177

10

5

Ian Rodriguez

RP Motorsport

116.392

3

191

11

83

Charles Finelli

Fatboy Racing!

116.378

3

126

12

98

Phillippe Denes

Fatboy Racing!

116.327

3

169

13

7

Kory Enders

DEForce Racing

116.039

1

144

 


A trio of different drivers led the three USF2000 test sessions, and the field was a bunch more tightly than in Indy Pro 2000.

Exclusive Autosport’s Cabrera, who finished 10th of 21 drivers in his oval debut at Lucas Oil Raceway last year, turned a lap at 111.675 mph to lead the first session. That ended up being the quickest lap of the day in USF2000. Unfortunately for the 18-year-old, he experienced his first oval contact at the end of the session.

Exclusive Autosport’s Manuel Cabrera works through traffic during a USF2000 test on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

We checked in with Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe, and he said that the crew got the car fixed and they were pleased with the job the Mexico City, Mexico born driver did during the test.

“Tony Kanaan had some great advice for us this morning, about focusing the entire time and pushing hard but not so hard as to do what I did this morning, in hitting the wall,” said Cabrera, who will head to another oval track in LaCrosse, Wis., this week as he continues preparations for the race at Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday, May 24. “His advice really helped me.

“We have such a solid car, to make those kinds of laps,” he continued. “It feels great to have had such a good first session, with the quickest lap on the oval. It’s a great moment for me and the team but we have to stay focused for the race next week.

“We had a good race here last year, and I took that experience this morning and put everything together. I was trying to push so hard this morning – the ovals make you want to push hard. I will put that (incident) behind me and focus ahead.”

The second session was led by Pabst Racing rookie Yuven Sundaramoorthy, who was also third quickest in the morning session. The 16-year-old ended up with the second fastest lap, only 0.015 mph slower than Cabrera.

Yuven Sundaramoorthy in testing on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval in preparation for the Freedom 75 on Carb Day. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

DEForce Racing rookie Jak Crawford led the final session of the day and ended up with the fourth fastest lap overall. The four Pabst Racing cars sat out the last session of the day.

The 14-year-old Crawford was joined in the top ten by fellow 14-year old Nolan Siegel (Newman Wachs Racing) in ninth and 15-year-old Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) in seventh.

Sundaramoorthy’s veteren teammate Colin Kaminsky was the third quickest driver. Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea, who is currently second in the USF2000 championship ended up fifth.

Championship leader Braden Eves turned in the sixth fastest lap.

The 19 USF2000 drivers that took part in the 115 minutes of testing turned a total of 2,637 laps (1808.98 miles) on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval. Newman Wachs Racing rookies Siegel and Cameron Shields both turned 196 laps, the most of any of the drivers.

Combined timesheet from USF2000 testing on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway Oval

Rank

Car

Name

Team

Top Speed (MPH)

Session #

Total Laps

1

90

Manuel Cabrera

Exclusive Autosport

111.675

1

47

2

21

Yuven Sundaramoorthy

Pabst Racing

111.659

2

123

3

23

Colin Kaminsky

Pabst Racing

111.617

1

128

4

52

Jak Crawford

DEForce Racing

111.173

3

156

5

22

Hunter McElrea

Pabst Racing

111.038

2

129

6

8

Braden Eves

Cape Motorsports

111.005

2

163

7

40

Jack William Miller

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

110.896

3

177

8

2

Darren Keane

Cape Motorsports

110.860

3

148

9

36

Nolan Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing

110.760

3

196

10

14

Alexandre Baron

Legacy Autosport

110.758

3

114

11

41

Eduardo Barrichello

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

110.711

3

176

12

3

Reece Gold

Cape Motorsports

110.350

3

193

13

73

Cameron Shields

Newman Wachs Racing

110.272

3

196

14

6

Christian Rasmussen

Jay Howard Driver Development

110.175

3

84

15

12

Manuel Sulaiman

DEForce Racing

110.148

3

150

16

27

Zach Holden

BN Racing

110.076

3

109

17

24

Bruna Tomaselli

Pabst Racing

109.359

1

132

18

5

Matthew Round-Garrido

Jay Howard Driver Development

107.235

3

140

19

7

Christian Bogle

Jay Howard Driver Development

106.221

1

76

Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Eves wins 3rd in a row after back and forth battle with McElrea

By Steve Wittich

For the third straight race to start the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season, it was Braden Eves that stood on the top step of the podium. But, it wasn’t easy.

The 20-year-old Cape Motorsports rookie lost the lead for six laps after leading the first seven from the pole. He regained the lead with two laps remaining, but lost the lead again in the first turn of the final lap, forcing Eves into a daring but successful pass for the lead in the tricky Esses (Turn 8, 9 & 10).

A USF2000 race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course ran caution free for only the second time and in total had 179 passes for the lead.

“Darren (Keane) and I have been so close in winter testing and I thought this season would be that close, where we’d be focusing on points and trying to win some race,” said Eves after exiting victory lane. “I’m really happy to be on top but it’s crazy, really, to look back at what (USF2000 champion) Kyle (Kirkwood) did last year and to realize that I’m off to an even better start! It makes it even more meaningful after a race like that. I just couldn’t stop yelling in the car at the checkered flag; it was pure joy and relief, especially here. To cross the yard of bricks, where so many legendary drivers have done before me, it’s amazing.”

Cape Motorsports rookie Braden Eves gets interviewed after winning his third straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race to start the 2019 season (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The drivers of the MDRN Livery/Community Choice Financial sponsored No. 8 (Kirkwood), and the Mazda/Doric NZ/Miles Advisory Partners sponsored No. 22 (McElrea)shared the podium for the third time this season and for the second time were joined by Manuel Sulaiman in the DEForce Racing No. 12.

The St. Petersburg, Fla. based Cape Motorsports now has eight wins and 15 podiums in the road course portion of the “Month of May.” It was Pabst Racing’s sixth podium and DEForce Racing’s second on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Cape Motorsports duo of Eves and Darren Keane brought the 21 car field to the green flag under overcast skies to start the first of two 15-lap Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis races.

Eves got the jump on his teammate and brought inside second-row starter McElrea with him. Behind them, it was chaos.

Keane’s Cal Development/Keane Architectural Woodwork sponsored No. 2 was tapped from behind by DEForce Racing newcomer Jak Crawford, causing Keane to spin. Manuel Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport), who started the race in fourth was unable to avoid the spinning Keane, and both drivers ended up facing the wrong way in the 90-degree right-hand Turn 1.

After the race, Keane told TSO Ladder that it was light contact, but still enough to send him into a spin. The 20-year-old fell back to the 21st spot, but still on the lead lap. Throughout the next 15 laps, Keane averages a position gained per lap, finishing sixth. The “fun” drive included a lap timed at 84.8876 seconds, the quickest of the race and a new race track record.

Crawford and Zach Holden also fell down the running order. Crawford started the fifth and ended the first lap in 16th, while Holden started in sixth and finished the first lap in 13th. Both drivers would move forward.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Eves, McElrea, Sulaiman, Jack William Miller, Cameron Shields, Eduardo Barrichello, Colin Kaminsky, Christian Rasmussen, Anthony Famularo, Dakota Dickerson, Bruna Tomaselli, Reece Gold, Zach Holden, Nolan Siegel, Alexandre Baron, Jak Crawford, Matthew Round-Garrido, Yuven Sundaramoorthy, Christian Bogle, Cabrera, and Keane.

Sulaiman (from 8th to 3rd), Miller (from 9th to 4th), Shields (from 13th to 5th) and Barrichello (from 15th to 6th) were the biggest benefactors of the tete-a-tete in front of them.

The race at the front of the field settled for the next five laps with Eves holding a comfortable, but not increasing lead over McElrea and Sulaiman.

Behind the front trio, the action was furious with Miller, Shields, Barrichello, and Kaminsky all swapping spots.

On lap five late addition to the field, Dakota Dickerson came to pit road with suspension damage on the right front of the No. 77 from the Legacy Autosport stable.

Eves gap to McElrea had shrunk to 0.3 seconds as the duo crossed the ‘Yard of Bricks’ to begin the seventh lap.

McElrea grabbed the lead on the next lap and led the next six laps. Sulaiman, who faced no pressure from behind, continued his solid start to the season, but just did not have quite enough pace to catch the front pair.

Further back, Kaminsky moved his way to fourth place, making on-track passes for seventh, sixth and fifth to collect his second consecutive top five to start the season.

With two laps remaining Eves, who had never lost touch with McElrea was able to get past the Aussie to regain the lead. The American took the white flag with the lead but lost it in Turn 1 when McElrea made a spectacular pass on the outside of Turn 1.

The pair were nose-to-tail until they got to the exit of Turn 7, where Eves pounced. The duo went side-by-side through Turn 9 and 10 before Eves grabbed the lead for the last time in Turn 10. McElrea would have to “settle” for his third podium of the season and was unhappy with himself for leaving Eves too much room to make the daring move.

“To be on the podium at a place as legendary as Indianapolis means a lot,” said McElrea after the race. “It was a good race but the last two laps were pretty hectic. I got past Braden for the lead and held it pretty comfortably until I made a mistake and he was able to get back by. I was able to get him on the outside in Turn One but gave him too much room in the Esses on the last lap. I hated to lose the lead on the last lap, but it’s good points so I can’t be too disappointed. But to drive my hardest and do 90 percent of the work and to lose it on the last lap like that is seriously crushing. I’m happy to be on the podium though. Mazda has given me the opportunity to be on the grid and Pabst Racing gave me a really fast car so tomorrow we’ll come back strong.”

Hunter McElrea and his No. 22 Soul Red Mazda sponsored on track during the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

At the white flag, Crawford had recovered to seventh, Keane to eighth and Holden to 10th. However, Crawford’s impressive recovery drive came to an end in the gravel trap after an incident with Miller.

Miller’s Miller Vinatieri Motorsports teammate Barrichello was running in sixth with two laps remaining before running into transmission issues.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race #1 Results.

RANK

CAR NO.

DRIVER

TEAM

DIFFERENCE

1

8

Braden Eves

Cape Motorsports

15 LAPS

2

22

Hunter McElrea

Pabst Racing

0.2998

3

12

Manuel Sulaiman

DEForce Racing

0.8658

4

23

Colin Kaminsky

Pabst Racing

4.1820

5

73

Cameron Shields

Newman Wachs Racing

8.3125

6

2

Darren Keane

Cape Motorsports

12.2880

7

27

Zach Holden

BN Racing

14.8809

8

28

Anthony Famularo

BN Racing

15.2542

9

14

Alex Baron

Legacy Autosport

17.1490

10

24

Bruna Tomaselli

Pabst Racing

18.3878

11

90

Manuel Cabrera

Exclusive Autosport

22.5018

12

21

Yuven Sundaramoorthy

Pabst Racing

25.3298

13

5

Matt Round-Garrido

Jay Howard Driver Development

26.2337

14

3

Reece Gold

Cape Motorsports

26.3400

15

36

Nolan Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing

29.3924

16

7

Christian Bogle

Jay Howard Driver Development

50.0319

17

40

Jack William Miller

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

– 1 LAP

18

52

Jak Crawford

DEForce Racing

– 1 LAP

19

41

Eduardo Barrichello

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

– 1 LAP

20

6

Christian Rasmussen

Jay Howard Driver Development

– 1 LAP

21

77

Dakota Dickerson

Legacy Autosport

– 10 LAPS

 

The 20-lap Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race #1 is scheduled to get the green flag at 9:15 am on Saturday.

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Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Eves grabs pole for first USF2000 race – 18 drivers covered by a second

By Steve Wittich

For the second time this season, Cape Motorsports rookie Braden Eves will start the first race of a weekend on the pole.

It is the ninth straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship pole on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for Cape Motorsports and the tenth in 11 opportunities.

The 20-year-old turned in a lap of 84.720 seconds, only four-hundredths of a second off the qualifying track record and that same four-hundredths of a second ahead of his teammate Darren Keane.

The top seven drivers were within a half-second of Eves, and all but three of the 21 drivers were within a second in the super close field.

The Cape Motorsports front row will be followed by Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) and Manuel Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport) in the second row. Newcomer Jak Crawford (DEForce Racing) will start on the inside of the third row with BN Racing driver Zach Holden to his outside.

The first of two USF2000 qualifying session got underway on time at 8 am, but went to red flag conditions immediately for ‘debris’ between Turn 3 and Turn 4. It was actually reported to be wildlife on track. There is a family of foxes that have taken up residence in that area.

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The green flag came back out quickly and the first driver to jump to the top of the timesheet was McElrea.

At the half-way point of the 20-minute session, it was Cape Motorsports veteran Darren Keane who was at the top of the timing screens. He was followed closely by teammate and points leader Eves.

Eves went quicker than Keane on the next lap. At that point of the session, 17 of 21 drivers were within one second of Eves.

With five minutes remaining in the session, Pabst Racing rookie Hunter McElrea was able to go four-hundredths quicker than Eves and move to the point.

With two minutes left in the session and on his 11th lap, Eves retook the provisional pole. Darren Keane was able to turn his quickest lap of qualifying, but ended up just four-hundredths behind his teammate and will start on the outside of the front row.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis Qualifying #1 (Unofficial) Results.

RANK

CAR NO.

DRIVER

TEAM

QUICK LAP

DIFFERENCE

TOTAL LAPS

1

8

Braden Eves

Cape Motorsports

1:24.720

–.—-

14

2

2

Darren Keane

Cape Motorsports

1:24.760

0.0404

13

3

22

Hunter McElrea

Pabst Racing

1:24.844

0.1237

14

4

90

Manuel Cabrera

Exclusive Autosport

1:24.920

0.2003

14

5

52

Jak Crawford

DEForce Racing

1:25.027

0.3071

12

6

27

Zach Holden

BN Racing

1:25.197

0.4769

11

7

23

Colin Kaminsky

Pabst Racing

1:25.213

0.4932

14

8

12

Manuel Sulaiman

DEForce Racing

1:25.322

0.6023

12

9

40

Jack William Miller

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

1:25.389

0.6693

14

10

14

Alex Baron

Legacy Autosport

1:25.433

0.7130

14

11

28

Anthony Famularo

BN Racing

1:25.441

0.7216

9

12

36

Nolan Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing

1:25.447

0.7272

14

13

73

Cameron Shields

Newman Wachs Racing

1:25.461

0.7409

14

14

21

Yuven Sundaramoorthy

Pabst Racing

1:25.518

0.7980

14

15

41

Eduardo Barrichello

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

1:25.546

0.8259

14

16

77

Dakota Dickerson

Legacy Autosport

1:25.600

0.8806

14

17

24

Bruna Tomaselli

Pabst Racing

1:25.620

0.9001

15

18

5

Matt Round-Garrido

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:25.663

0.9436

13

19

3

Reece Gold

Cape Motorsports

1:25.965

1.2450

13

20

6

Christian Rasmussen

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:26.011

1.2914

14

21

7

Christian Bogle

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:26.577

1.8570

13

The lowest rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track in just over two hours at 10:55 am for their second qualifying session

  • Comments Off on Road To Indy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Eves grabs pole for first USF2000 race – 18 drivers covered by a second
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Braden Eves kicks of the “Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leading a tight USF2000 practice session

 

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship points leader Braden Eves led the first official practice session of the 2019 “Month of May.” The Cape Motorsports rookie turned a lap of 85.665 seconds.

Fellow rookie Hunter McElrea and Cape Motorsports teammate Darren Keane turned in the second and third quickest laps with Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing) and Anthony Famularo (BN Racing) rounding out the top five.

The 30-minute session late afternoon session began with a light mist and ended with the sun just peaking through the clouds. The temperatures was 71F, and the wind was a brisk 12mph and blowing from the southwest.

The entire session was run under green flag conditions, and the 21 drivers turned a total of 318 laps of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Sixteen of the 21 drivers were within one second of Eves.

Of note is Jak Crawford, the Darren Manning coached 14-year-old pilot is making his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires debut in USF2000 this weekend with DEForce Racing and turned the sixth quickest time of the session.

Veteran Keane turned the quickest lap in the pair of 50-minute test sessions earlier in the day with a lap of 85.688 seconds, just two-hundredths behind the lap turned by his teammate Eves in the first practice session.

Fourteen-year-old Jak Crawford led his first ever Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship session on a wet Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The first test session was run on a wet track with 15 of the 21 entered drivers electing to turn laps. The session was led by newcomer Crawford, who was joined in the top five by Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), Bruna Tomaselli (Pabst Racing), Eves and Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing).

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Grand Prix of Indianapolis Practice #1 Results

RANK

CAR NO.

DRIVER

TEAM

QUICK LAP

DIFFERENCE

TOTAL LAPS

1

8

Braden Eves

Cape Motorsports

1:25.665

–.—-

16

2

22

Hunter McElrea

Pabst Racing

1:25.794

0.1287

17

3

2

Darren Keane

Cape Motorsports

1:25.829

0.1637

16

4

23

Colin Kaminsky

Pabst Racing

1:25.958

0.2929

15

5

28

Anthony Famularo

BN Racing

1:26.244

0.5786

12

6

52

Jak Crawford

DEForce Racing

1:26.250

0.5849

16

7

90

Manuel Cabrera

Exclusive Autosport

1:26.261

0.5956

18

8

3

Reece Gold

Cape Motorsports

1:26.316

0.6505

18

9

27

Zach Holden

BN Racing

1:26.422

0.7565

13

10

73

Cameron Shields

Newman Wachs Racing

1:26.480

0.8142

17

11

24

Bruna Tomaselli

Pabst Racing

1:26.487

0.8215

18

12

21

Yuven Sundaramoorthy

Pabst Racing

1:26.511

0.8454

16

13

12

Manuel Sulaiman

DEForce Racing

1:26.567

0.9017

13

14

40

Jack William Miller

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

1:26.574

0.9091

17

15

41

Eduardo Barrichello

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports

1:26.672

1.0067

17

16

14

Alex Baron

Legacy Autosport

1:26.739

1.0735

13

17

5

Matt Round-Garrido

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:26.907

1.2415

16

18

36

Nolan Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing

1:27.036

1.3705

18

19

77

Dakota Dickerson

Legacy Autosport

1:27.206

1.5405

12

20

6

Christian Rasmussen

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:27.416

1.7507

4

21

7

Christian Bogle

Jay Howard Driver Development

1:27.707

2.0422

16

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship drivers will have a busy Friday. They are first cars on track tomorrow morning for an 8 am qualifying session. Qualify again at 10:55 am and the first of two races rolls off at 2:45 pm.

TSO Ladder Feature – Darren Keane is in pursuit of fun (and a little vindication), in a post St. Pete reset.

By Steve Wittich

A 59-day layoff directly following a final lap, final corner self-induced mistake that prevented a trip to victory lane, is one of a race car driver’s worst nightmares.

Darren Keane, who just finished his second semester in the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Florida, is no different than most drivers.

“It’s been a pretty interesting couple of months since St. Pete,” said Keane to TSO Ladder. “Mentally, it’s been really tough. It was destroying me for a couple of weeks. But, it has helped me realize that I’ve been putting way too much pressure on myself. To the point that I’m not really enjoying myself anymore. It’s almost a straight job.”

However, after a few weeks of contemplation, Keane took advantage of the long break to transform his approach coming to the second race weekend of the year, the USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis double-header.

“My mindset is 100% changed now. Indy is going to be a test to see what a different mindset can do,” explained the 19-year-old. “The last time that I really, really enjoyed myself was at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in October. That went really well for me. I broke two unofficial track records in two different cars.

“My goal for Indy is to try and go back to that mindset where I’m just showing up to have some fun! Whatever happens, happens.”

Up until that last lap, last corner mistake, Keane proved to the rest of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship field that he is one of the drivers to beat in the battle for the advancement scholarship.

A transponder issue in the first qualifying session resulted in a back of the field start for the first race. During the race, Keane used a perfect blend of patience and pace, passing a dozen cars and setting the quickest lap of the race on the way to a solid seventh-place finish.

Darren Keane fights through the field in the first race of the year in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The Cal Development/Keane Architectural Woodwork sponsored No. 2 piloted by Keane ended the second qualifying session almost an unheard of four-tenths ahead of his Cape Motorsports teammate Braden Eves.

Keane lost the lead early to Christian Rasmussen in the 25-lap second race but was able to get around the Jay Howard Driver Development driver, holding him at bay until that ill-fated final corner.

After spending his first two seasons in USF2000 with a different team, Keane’s adjustment to the championship-winning Cape Motorsports has been smooth.

All of the guys are really good,” Keane told TSO Ladder. “I get along really well with my mechanic Scott. They are a great group of guys. They are always pushing me to my best. They are going to get the best out of me no matter how long it takes. They really make sure that I’m maximizing myself and if I’m not, they’re going to let me know. It’s nice to have that extra little motivation.”

Keane also benefits from having two quick teammates, winner of the two races in St. Petersburg, Eves and 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion, Reece Gold.

Keane has plenty of experience on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, making four previous USF2000 and taking part in a pair of Chris Griffis Memorial Tests.

Keane turned the quickest time in the USF-!7 during the 2017 Chris Griffis Memorial Test and last year went back and forth between USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 machinery. The dual American and Irish citizen had the quickest time in the PM-18 and the second fastest time in USF2000.

Keane finished fourth in the second race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last year, his best finish at the historic track.

“Obviously St. Pete was my fault,” reiterated Keane at the end of his conversation with TSO Ladder. “I’m trying to hit the reset button with my mind right now and try and enjoy myself. Once I get to that point, the results are going to come, and I won’t put so much pressure on myself.”

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship testing and practice gets underway on Thursday, May 9, with qualifying and racing the next two days.

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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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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