Title Chases Intensify as Road to Indy Season Reaches Halfway Point
 June 7, 2022| 
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PALMETTO, Fla. – The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will reach the midway point in their seasons this coming weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The challenging 4.014-mile road course will host two races for each of the first two steps on the highly acclaimed Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, marking the ninth and tenth rounds of their 18-race campaigns.

At stake – uniquely in the auto racing world – are 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.

This weekend’s open-wheel extravaganza also will include an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race and the headline event, Round Eight of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, in which well over a dozen Road to Indy graduates will be competing.

Foster a Fast Learner
Louis Foster has proven to be something of a revelation during his rookie season in North America, winning the last two races – including on his oval debut at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park – for Exclusive Autosport to take the lead in the Indy Pro 2000 points standings.

The 19-year-old Englishman, who is also a student at Loyola Marymount University in California, had made an impression in a variety of European open-wheel categories over the course of the previous three seasons, including placing third both in British F4 in 2019 and the following year’s British F3 title chase before finishing as the runner up in the 2021 Euroformula series. He used that experience to excellent effect from the moment he began his North American foray, finishing third on his debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and posting the fastest lap of the race in four of his first six starts.

Foster now holds a 14-point edge over 17-year-old series veteran Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., who has won two races this season for Juncos Hollinger Racing and notched a second-place finish at Road America in 2021.

Teen-aged rookie Nolan Siegel, from Palo Alto, Calif., also has won twice this year for DEForce Racing. He currently lies just three points adrift of Gold in the points table.

Fellow rookies Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), from Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Salvador De Alba (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Guadalajara, Mexico, also have tasted the fruits of success during an intensely competitive opening eight races.

Former USF2000 champion (and Road America race winner) Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, has finished three times on the podium for Jay Howard Driver Development but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing outing on the IRP oval where he finished a distant 11th.

Pabst Racing, based locally in Oconomowoc, Wis., always holds high expectations for its home event, especially in light of Colin Kaminsky, from Homer Glen, Ill., and Yuven Sundaramoorthy, also from Oconomowoc, having already earned podium finishes this year.

Other contenders still seeking a breakthrough maiden victory include London, England-raised Pakistani Enaam Ahmed (Juncos Hollinger Racing), twice a podium finisher already in 2022, as well as Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), from Carmel, Ind., and Irishman Jonathan Browne (Turn 3 Motorsport), who both earned pole positions last month on the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course.

Social media star Lindsay Brewer will make her return to the series for Exclusive Autosport after impressing with an eighth-place finish on her debut at Indianapolis.

Two one-hour test sessions on Thursday, June 9, and 30 minutes of official practice at 8:45 a.m. CDT on Friday will help drivers prepare for two separate qualifying sessions at 11:15 a.m. on Friday and 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Elite Engines will comprise a pair of races set for 2:15 p.m. on Saturday and 8:25 a.m. on Sunday.

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

D’Orlando Leads 23-car USF2000 Entry
Interest in the first rung of the Road to Indy ladder, USF2000, is booming, with the addition of three new rookies leading to a season-high 23 cars being entered for this weekend’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Elite Engines.

The field is headed by Michael d’Orlando, who a couple of weeks ago grasped the points lead with his first victory of the season at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Cape Motorsports team. After finishing second in the 2021 point standings, the 20-year-old from Hartsdale, N.Y., has been a model of consistency, finishing seven of this year’s eight races among the top five. He has also matched the record number of series starts in the Road to Indy era, dating to 2010, 52, by Yuven Sundaramoorthy who has graduated to Indy Pro 2000. In addition, d’Orlando now has 39 top-10 finishes to his name in the same time-frame, comfortably eclipsing Parker Thompson’s tally of 36.

D’Orlando holds a relatively comfortable 17-point edge over Myles Rowe, from New York, N.Y., and 19 over his own rookie teammate Jagger Jones, from Scottsdale, Ariz.

After notching two wins already this year, Rowe hopes to add to that tally for Pabst Racing, whose most recent USF2000 victory at its home track came in 2019. Teammate Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., also has one win to his name this season.

New Zealander Billy Frazer, currently fourth in points, is looking to break into the winner’s circle after recording four podium finishes for Exclusive Autosport, while Canadian Thomas Nepveu seeks his first win of the season for DEForce Racing after securing his maiden victory at Road America in 2021.

The most recent road course event, at the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit last month, was dominated by Englishman Alex Quinn, who swept all three races on his debut for the Velocity Racing Development team. Quinn will not be present this weekend but VRD has expanded to three cars with Nikita Johnson, 14, from Gulfport, Fla., and Nicholas d’Orlando, the younger brother of Michael and winner of the 2021 F1600 Championship Series, both stepping up from USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires to make their USF2000 debuts alongside the team’s regular driver, Viktor Andersson, from Linkoping, Sweden.

Evagoras Papasavvas, from Loveland, Ohio, also will make his long-awaited debut with Jay Howard Driver Development following a lengthy recuperation from injury sustained in a preseason karting accident.

The USF2000 schedule mirrors that of Indy Pro 200 with a pair of 60-minute test sessions on Thursday. A half-hour of practice at 8:00 a.m. on Friday will give the drivers one more opportunity to prepare for separate qualifying sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. which will set the starting orders for two races on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.

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