Story Credit: Road to Indy PR
Photo Credit: Road to Indy Photo
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season is finally under way, with the first two races for both the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship due to take place tomorrow at Road America. Drivers from both series were able to gain some valuable track time today, with Singapore’s Daniel Frost leading the way in Indy Pro 2000 for Chicago-based Turn 3 Motorsport and Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen fastest in USF2000 for Jay Howard Driver Development.
Oppressively hot and humid conditions characterized three unofficial test sessions for each series, after which a heavy thunderstorm rolled through to ensure that the lone 30-minute official practice sessions were held in drying conditions.
Frost is Hot in Indy Pro 2000
Sweltering conditions are nothing new for Frost, who began his racing career in the South East Asia F4 Championship in 2016. He looked right at home today, comfortably fastest in the first test session of the day with a time of 2:00.9397. It was to stand as the best of the day by more than a half-second.
After winning two times in 2019 and electing to return to Indy Pro 2000 after his initial plan to graduate to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires fell afoul of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frost, 18, sat out much of the final official practice session waiting for the track to dry. He returned to the 4.014-mile natural terrain road course in time to turn a handful of laps, blitzing his way to the top of the charts again with a best of 2:01.6593.
“We were P1 overall in the series test last week (at Mid-Ohio) so that gave me a big boost in confidence to come here and push as hard as I wanted, knowing the car would be there – and the first session proved that,” said Frost. “We were able to work on things the rest of the test sessions since we knew we had the time. In the official practice, we were right up there so we know how strong we are to put the car where it’s supposed to be tomorrow, whether it’s wet or dry. I’m excited for tomorrow: the plan is to look forward and be calm. I’m working on being more relaxed and composed, and taking qualifying more strategically, and I think this plan will be successful.”
Italian-Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco also impressed today for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport. After competing in a variety of European open-wheel series in recent years, Miami, Fla.-based DeFrancesco emerged second quickest today in both the test (2:01.4952) and official practice (2:02.1446).
Artem Petrov, from Saint Petersburg, Russia, also enjoyed a strong day for Juncos Racing. Petrov was fastest in two of the three test sessions with a best time of 2:01.4674 before slipping to fifth in the lone official session.
New Zealander Hunter McElrea, runner up in last year’s USF2000 championship, emerged third fastest in practice on 2:02.3789 for locally based Pabst Racing, followed by Canadian Road to Indy veteran Parker Thompson for DEForce Racing.
Rasmussen Fastest in USF2000
Rasmussen, from Copenhagen, Denmark, began the season as one of the favorites for USF2000 honors after winning three times last year and finishing third in the final points table. The personable 20-year-old lived up to expectations today by narrowly heading a tightly packed field in testing. His best time of 2:11.0108, set in the heat of the afternoon, edged Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., in the fastest of the quartet of Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17s by a scant 0.0880 of a second. Rasmussen also topped the charts in official practice later this afternoon, although his best time of 1:26.1093 was indicative of the tricky conditions.
“The team has done a great job all day, getting the car where it needs to be,” said Rasmussen. “I’m glad I could put a good lap together for them in the final test, and again in the official practice. It shows that we’re competitive, though I know some guys did not put on new tires in that last test session. But I know we’re fast, P1 by two-and-a-half seconds in that last session in the wet conditions, so I can’t complain. We’ll see how tomorrow develops, if it’s going to be wet or dry – no one knows now, but I think we’ll be competitive either way. It’s been a good day, and it’s great to be back with the team and back at the racetrack.”
Gold, who finished 10th in the 2019 standings, made full use of his previous experience by pacing the field in the opening test session this morning, marginally quicker than teammate Michael d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y. Gold also was second fastest in official practice, followed by a third Cape Motorsports entry driven by rookie Josh Green, from Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Yuven Sundaramoorthy, who was born in nearby Oconomowoc, Wis., and drives for the locally based team, Pabst Racing, enjoyed a strong day, fourth overall in testing ahead of fellow second-year racer Jack William Miller for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports.
Wyatt Brichacek, from Johnstown, Colo., was fourth fastest in the final, wet practice session for Jay Howard Driver Development, with Englishman Matt Round-Garrido rounding out the top five for Pabst Racing.
The opening day of racing tomorrow, held in support of First Responders, will start with qualifying for the first of two USF2000 races at 8:00 a.m. CDT, followed by Indy Pro 2000 qualifying at 8:50 a.m. The two 40-minute USF2000 races are slated to start at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Indy Pro 2000 contestants will have a pair of 50-minute races starting at 12:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
All qualifying and race events will feature live audio and live Timing & Scoring available on the Road to Indy TV App, the Road to Indy TV website and the respective series websites at indypro2000.com and usf2000.com.