Road to Indy Set for Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
 June 28, 2022| 
  • Series News
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PALMETTO, Fla. – From one classic American road circuit to another, the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder heads this weekend to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The event follows just three weeks after providing some tremendous racing action at the equally scenic and challenging Road America venue in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, held once again in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will comprise two races for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and a potentially decisive triple-header for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.

At the completion of the season, uniquely in the world of auto racing, the two junior levels on the widely acclaimed Road to Indy will award a pair of scholarship prizes valued at over $1 million to ensure each champion’s graduation onto the next step of the ladder in 2023.

Foster Leads the Way in Indy Pro 2000
The Mid-Ohio event will mark Rounds 11 and 12 of the 18-race season for Indy Pro 2000. The championship currently is led by rookie Louis Foster, 18, who hails originally from Basingstoke, England, but is now based in Los Angeles, Calif., where he is a student at Loyola Marymount University.

Foster burst onto the North American scene with an impressive debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in February, when he earned two podium finishes for the Exclusive Autosport team and recorded one fastest race lap. Since then, he has earned at least one podium finish in each subsequent event. His tally of three wins has taken him into a 19-point lead with eight races remaining.

As a testament to the level of competition this year, six different drivers have won races and every one of the seven teams that will be represented this weekend have recorded multiple podium finishes.

Fellow teenagers Reece Gold (Juncos Hollinger Racing), from Miami, Fla., and Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), from Palo Alto, Calif., are placed second and third in the point standings, each with two wins to their credit.

Gold has secured a season-high three Cooper Tires Pole Awards, which, added to his tally of five poles during his rookie campaign in 2021, has vaulted him to sixth on the all-time pole list, only three behind 2012 champion Jack Hawksworth.

Gold’s teammate, London, England-raised Pakistani Enaam Ahmed is the only one of the top seven point scorers not to have a victory to his name. But the 2017 British Formula 3 Champion has been knocking on the door in recent races with four podium results, plus a stunning performance in the most recent race at Road America where he charged from 16th on the grid to fourth.

Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, won that race at Road America, his first of the season for Jay Howard Driver Development, and has high expectations of maintaining that momentum at his home race track. Mexican teammate Salvador De Alba also has impressed this season, his first in open-wheel cars after gaining success in stock cars in his homeland, including a win at Indianapolis where he inherited the top spot after Eves’ car failed post-race technical inspection.

Josh Green, from Mount Kisco, N.Y., also is on a roll for Turn 3 Motorsport with three consecutive podiums and a pole position to add to his lone victory in the season opener at St. Petersburg, while Jack William Miller, from Carmel, Ind., has been edging closer to a maiden victory, especially following a recent technical partnership between his family team, Miller Vinatieri Motorsports, and Exclusive Autosport.

Three 45-minute test sessions on Thursday, June 30 will set the ball in motion for the Indy Pro 2000 field, followed by 30 minutes of official practice at 8:00 a.m. on Friday. A pair of qualifying sessions at 10:25 a.m. and 1:35 a.m. will decide the starting order for the two races on Saturday, July 2, at 11:40 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. All times are EDT.

Live streaming will be available at RoadToIndy.TV, the Road to Indy TV App and indypro2000.com.

D’Orlando on a Mission
Michael d’Orlando had a singular mission at the start of this season: to win the USF2000 championship. The Hartsdale, N.Y. native, who made his USF2000 debut back in 2018, won two of the three races at Mid-Ohio last season on his way to finishing second in the title-chase for Cape Motorsports. He began this year by taking a pair of fourths and a pair of thirds from his first four races before winning at the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park oval, the scene of his breakthrough maiden victory in 2021.

The 20-year-old etched his name into the record books at Road America with his 54th start, breaking the previous record of Yuven Sundaramoorthy in the Road to Indy era, dating back to 2010, although he is unlikely to match the all-time record number of USF2000 starts which is held by Scott Rubenzer at 72. D’Orlando’s tally of 33 top-five finishes and 39 top-10s are unmatched on the all-time list.

Consistency – of late – also has been critical to the emergence of Myles Rowe, from New York, N.Y., as a legitimate championship contender, along with his Pabst Racing teammate Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz. Rowe currently trails d’Orlando by a scant six points with three weekends (and eight races) remaining.

Rowe, who claimed his first win in a dramatic wet-dry race last year at New Jersey Motorsports Park, was involved in various scrapes during the early races but has now become focused on the importance of scoring well at every round, as evidenced by his streak of three consecutive podium finishes. Both Pabst contenders have scored two wins this year.

The other prime title contenders are Billy Frazer, from Auckland, New Zealand, who is still chasing his first win for Exclusive Autosport after notching five podium finishes, and third-generation racer Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), from Scottsdale, Ariz., who has tallied one win (on the Barber Motorsports Park road course) and three additional podium results for Cape Motorsports.

The DEForce Racing trio of Thomas Nepveu, from Oka, Que., Canada, Bijoy Garg, from Atherton, Calif., and Dylan Christie, from Princeton, N.J., were all fighting for podium finishes at Road America and are still seeking their first wins, as are Turn 3 Motorsport’s Spike Kohlbecker, from St. Louis, Mo., who earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2021, and Christian Weir, from Naperville, Ill.

Another strong field also will include Lochie Hughes, from Gold Coast, Australia, who will make his USF2000 debut for Jay Howard Driver Development after already scoring race wins in F4.

A trio of 45-minute test sessions on Thursday, June 30, in addition to 30 minutes of official practice at 8:45 a.m. on Friday, July 1, will permit plenty of track time in preparation for a crucially important qualifying session at 11:10 a.m. which will help to determine the starting order for all three races. Race One will start at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, with Races Two and Three set for 10:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 2.

Global live streaming can be found at RoadToIndy.TV, the Road to Indy TV App as well as usf2000.com.
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