Porto win at Indianapolis in 400th USF2000 race
Brazilian Kiko Porto this morning became the fourth different winner of a Cooper Tires USF2000 championship race this season, coming from behind for DEForce Racing to narrowly lead home championship leader Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport). It was Porto’s second career victory and the 400th race in USF2000 history dating back to the championship’s debut, under USAC sanction, at Willow Springs International Raceway in California in 1990.
Michael of Orlando had another spectacular training session for Cape Motorsports, dropping from 11th on the grid to overtake the Pabst Racing pair of Yuven Sundaramoorthy and Josh Pierson on the final lap to complete the podium.
After winning both races yesterday, varsity student Sundaramoorthy took home another Cooper Tires Pole Award with the second fastest lap of 26 cars in qualifying on Friday.
The opening laps this morning went cautiously due to incidents further down the pitch after which Sundaramoorthy couldn’t stop Brooks, who had started second, from coming back to take the lead at Turn 1. Porto, after jumping from sixth place. the grid, also made a nice early charge and was soon hot on Sundaramoorthy’s tail. The Brazilian made his move on lap 7, then quickly grabbed onto Brooks’ tail.
Two laps later, Porto relieved Brooks from first place, while behind them Pierson also made a move to Sundaramoorthy which gave the two leaders a slight break.
There was very little choice between the top two in terms of pace, although Porto were able to maintain their position and claim another league point for leading most laps. His eventual margin of victory was a tick of less than half a second – enough to earn his first victory of the year and a PFC Award for David and Ernesto Martinez as winning car owners.
“I’ve had sticks here in the past, but I’ve never won here, so finally winning is so nice,” said Porto. “We made some mistakes in qualifying this weekend which cost us a lot, but we made a few changes to the set-up and the car was so good today. I had the pace to catch up with the guys in front and pass the lead. It was so comfortable, no mistakes. Thank you to the DEForce team, my family and everyone who helped make this happen. “
Pierson and Sundaramoorthy remained locked in the fight, with Sundaramoorthy claiming the extra championship point for the fastest race lap and finally finding a way to pass his 15-year-old teammate on the final lap with a daring outside pass at Turn 1. Pierson, however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The two faced off side-by-side in Turn 7, which gave a perfect opportunity for a close-behind Orlando to pass them both on braking for Turn 12. It was another extremely good performance. impressive Orlando, who overcame a few. gremlins in qualifying which saw him start all three races this weekend in the middle of the peloton to secure a trio of top four classifications and keep his championship aspirations alive and well.
Thomas Nepveu was once again the best final rookie in the sixth – the best result to date in his young career – just ahead of Californian Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), Spike Kohkbecker (Ignite Autosport with Cape Motorsports) and Josh Green ( Turn 3 Motorsport)).
Jackson Lee also impressed for Jay Howard’s driver development team, overcoming a disappointing day yesterday and rising from No. 19 to No. 10 to win the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
There will be little respite for the contenders for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship who will remain in the area for the only oval track event of the year, the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis on the evening of Friday, May 28.