Two-Three Finish for Sulaiman and Gold in St. Petersburg
 April 26, 2021| 
  • Team News
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St. Petersburg, Florida – Juncos Racing collected two more podiums in the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Mexican Manuel Sulaiman captured second, while American teammate Reece Gold picked up third in Round 4 during the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Cooper Tires.

The Indy Pro 2000 Championship returned to the track for the second weekend in a row for Rounds 3 and 4 on the 1.8 mile, 14-Turn street course located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

One practice kicked off the weekend on Friday for the 17-car field, followed by qualifying for Round 3. Rookie Reece Gold driving the No. 55 The Ticket Clinic entry qualified fifth, while teammate Manuel Sulaiman driving the No.22 Telcel car qualified seventh and the No. 21 Simpson Racing Products driven by rookie Kyffin Simpson qualified 13th.

The field returned to the track early Saturday morning for the second round of qualifying. The three-car Juncos Racing lineup put together their strongest qualifying attempt of the season with Gold qualifying third, Sulaiman fourth and Simpson fifth.

Round 3 of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship took place that afternoon. Sulaiman, who started seventh was able to move up two positions during the 25-lap race to finish fifth. Gold, who started fifth finished just outside the Top-5 in sixth. Simpson, who started 13th, gained three spots to finish 10th.

The weekend concluded early Sunday morning with Round 4. A battle for positions ensued right after the green flag waved, resulting in a multiple-car incident in the second turn before the first lap could be completed. Simpson, who started fifth was involved in the incident, which unfortunately took him out of the race to finish 14th. After five laps the race returned to green, where Gold and Sulaiman continued their run for the podium throughout the remaining laps before a second caution came out late in the race. The final restart took place with only five laps to go. During these final laps, Sulaiman drove his way from fourth to second, followed by Gold making a last-lap pass to secure the final position on the podium for Juncos Racing, delivering the team a second and third-place finish.

Juncos Racing Team Owner Ricardo Juncos said, “After some good results in Barber we carried over that momentum in St. Pete. Unfortunately, a red flag during the first qualifying session did not allow us to get the results we deserved. Some drivers were able to get lucky to cross the timing line before the red flag and some did not which has happened to us twice this season. We were just a few seconds behind to cross the line, and when you have only 20-minute qualifying sessions you can be the fastest car on track, but start in the back or midfield by not having the chance to show your full potential. We clearly have the speed, like we have had in previous years at St. Pete and were finally able to show this in the second qualifying as we put all three cars in the Top-5, which was outstanding.

“In the second race the team really showed the strong pace we have by two of the drivers finishing on the podium. Manuel Sulaiman and Reece Gold made some excellent passes to get to the front of the field by the time the checkered flag waved. Kyffin Simpson unfortunately was caught up in an incident on track that took him out of the race on the first lap. The margin of error is zero on street courses, so these situations will happen when there are such close battles. Even though he didn’t get the result we hoped for he did an incredible job being his first time at St. Pete and clearly showed the great pace he has by putting the car in P5 during the second qualifying after only being on track for two sessions.

“The Indy Pro 2000 championship has a lot of competition between the teams and drivers. The battle on track can be tough when you have many performing at such a competitive level. The performance on track by our drivers and crew was incredible, even when faced with tough situations. I want to thank everyone for all of their dedication and hard work they have put into these back-to-back weekends. We have gained so much momentum and confidence through our performance at St. Pete. We clearly have a very talented line-up, even with two of our drivers being rookies to the series. We will continue to focus and work hard as we prepare for the next rounds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

The 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires continues May 13-15 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a triple-header event alongside the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Reece Gold: “Overall a great weekend. We had great pace in both qualifyings and the races. The second race went really well for us and we were able to secure a double podium for the team. Thank you to the team for a great car all weekend and I am excited to get Indianapolis underway."

Kyffin Simpson: “It was a tough weekend trying to learn the track and get used to being close to the wall and many other things you have to deal with on a street course. The weekend didn’t end the way that I wanted but I will keep my head high and continue on to the Indy GP for the next race.”

Manuel Sulaiman: “Overall it was a positive weekend earning valuable points for the championship. In the first qualifying, session luck wasn’t in our favor with a red flag that caused us to finish the session early, qualifying seventh. In the second qualifying session, we improved to qualify fourth. We went on to the first race where we started seventh and finished fifth with a very fast lap. The final race we started fourth but went back to fifth during the start. We were able to recover and finish second. I am very happy with the amount of points we gained and we will keep the momentum when we head to Indianapolis, I want to thank my team Juncos Racing for the great weekend. We will keep working hard moving forward into the championship. I want to thank my sponsors Telcel, Multiquip, WBC and Infinitum for their amazing support.”
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