NJMP tripleheaders forward for RTI Indy Professional 2000, USF2000
Simply two occasion weekends stay within the quest for scholarships and awards valued at over $1 million which can propel drivers onto the following step of the extremely acclaimed Highway to Indy Offered by Cooper Tires open-wheel racing improvement ladder. Up first this coming weekend, October 10-11, each the Indy Professional 2000 and USF2000 collection will go to New Jersey Motorsports Park for a tripleheader alongside the International Mazda MX-5 Cup. It’s going to mark the collection’ first go to since 2010 to the two.25-mile, 12-turn Thunderbolt Raceway street course located in Millville, N.J.
The 2020 season, which was delayed and reconstituted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will conclude with a doubleheader at the side of the NTT IndyCar Collection on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., October 23-25.
Indy Professional 2000: Consistency, velocity the keys for Robb
Sting Ray Robb was simply 9 years outdated when his Indy Professional 2000 workforce, Juncos Racing, final competed at New Jersey Motorsports Park, guiding present IndyCar driver Conor Daly to 2 pole positions and a pair of top-four finishes. Daly went on to safe the championship by a commanding 79-point margin.
Greater than a decade later, Robb seems to be to proceed the latest wealthy vein of kind that has enabled him to win 4 of the final 5 races and open up a commanding 49-point lead within the championship heading into the ultimate 5 races of the season. At stake is a scholarship valued at over $600,000 which can enable the collection champion to graduate onto the highest step of the Highway to Indy ladder when Indy Lights makes its eagerly awaited return to the schedule in 2021 following a one-year hiatus.
“Something can occur – we frequently see movers come up late within the season, however I feel we’re in an excellent place,” stated Robb. “We discovered quite a bit within the take a look at at NJMP a couple of weeks in the past and now we have an excellent automotive. It’s going to be necessary to remain constant, particularly on the tripleheader, and velocity will probably be key. That stated, with the lead now we have, if we have to maintain off to keep away from contact, we’ll try this. It doesn’t imply I received’t go for some strikes however I’ll be just a little extra defensive, rather less aggressive.”
Robb’s latest streak has taken him away from a trio of contenders – Devlin DeFrancesco, Artem Petrov and Danial Frost – all of whom are separated by simply 15 factors and stay very a lot in title competition.
DeFrancesco seems to be to bounce again from a tough outing final month at Mid-Ohio the place his Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Tatuus PM-18 completed outdoors the highest 10 for the primary and solely occasions throughout a powerful rookie marketing campaign. Petrov, in the meantime, is the one driver apart from Juncos Racing teammate Robb to have a number of victories to his credit score this yr, whereas Frost additionally has been a constant contender for Flip 3 Motorsport.
Rookie Sulaiman gave DEForce Racing its first Indy Professional 2000 victory at Mid-Ohio.
Six completely different groups have been represented on the highest step of the rostrum from the primary 12 races of an intensely aggressive season. A seventh, Pabst Racing, is seeking to be a part of that group with its pair of proficient rookie drivers, Hunter McElrea and Colin Kaminsky. Each have displayed robust tempo, with McElrea, who completed second in final yr’s USF2000 title-chase, having earned podium finishes in every of the previous 4 race weekends.
“There have been occasions this season once I’ve shot myself within the foot by pushing too arduous, and that’s on me,” McElrea admitted. “However this has additionally been a studying yr for me and for the workforce, being a rookie driver and rookie workforce within the collection, competing in opposition to groups like Juncos Racing which has been within the championship for a very long time and has a lot prior expertise and knowledge.
“The outcomes present that we’re turning into an increasing number of aggressive and we’ve come so near successful,” McElrea continued. “I’ve been fast in apply and earned a couple of quickest race laps so the tempo is there; we simply must get that qualifying automotive. We examined at New Jersey a couple of weeks in the past, specializing in quali trim, and let’s simply say that I’m sleeping effectively at night time! I’m excited to hit the observe.”
DEForce Racing broke via with its first victory at Mid-Ohio with Mexican rookie Manuel Sulaiman, who additionally has three poles to his credit score. Skilled Canadian teammate Parker Thompson additionally has come near including his identify to the victory roster.
INDY PRO 2000 ENTRY LIST
The Cooper Tires Indy Professional 2000 Grand Prix at NJMP will kick off with a trio of take a look at periods on Friday, Oct. 9. A 30-minute official apply session will set the ball rolling on Saturday at 10:45 a.m., adopted by qualifying at 1:45 p.m. and the primary of three 50-minute races at 4:35 p.m. A separate qualifying session at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday will set the grid for Race 2, at 2:00 p.m., from which every opponents’ quickest race lap will decide the beginning order for Race 3 at 5:00 p.m. All occasions are EDT.
All periods on Saturday and Sunday will probably be reside streamed on the Highway to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV and the collection web site, indypro2000.com.
USF2000: Rasmussen vs. Gold
The stage is ready for an intriguing battle for high honors in The Andersen Firms USF2000 Grand Prix at NJMP between season-long pacesetter Christian Rasmussen and teenage challenger Reece Gold (photograph at high).
Rasmussen started the yr on a tear, successful the primary six races in a row for the Jay Howard Driver Improvement workforce. However, after romping away to an 85-point margin over his pursuers, a sequence of 5 consecutive poor finishes, coupled to 16-year-old Gold’s run of eight podium leads to 9 races – together with two wins – enabled the Cape Motorsports cost to shut inside simply three factors. That was earlier than the newest race at Mid-Ohio, the place Rasmussen steadied the ship with one other hard-earned victory. Gold needed to be content material with one other third-place end.
With a scholarship valued at over $328,000 obtainable to this yr’s champion to help in commencement to Indy Professional 2000 in 2021, it’s no surprise Rasmussen has shifted his focus barely heading into the ultimate 5 races of the season.
“I feel the mindset has modified just a little bit,” stated Rasmussen. “I wouldn’t say I’m involved however I’ve shifted my focus extra towards the championship and away from going 100% for the win. As a driver with no entire lot of funding, I’ve to depend on the scholarship to progress to Indy Professional 2000 and that must be the precedence. The opposite drivers have gotten a lot nearer over the previous few races, however I do know I’ve the velocity and I belief myself and my talents. I’ve discovered from what’s occurred the previous few races, that I’ve to tug again generally, settle in and relax just a little bit, let the race come to me. I’ve tailored and overcome, and I really feel as if I’ve come again even stronger.”
Gold, too, has modified his method just a bit. As a substitute of being content material to chalk up the podiums, he is aware of he must take full benefit of his Cape Motorsports workforce’s huge expertise if he’s to stretch its outstanding report of success into a tenth consecutive USF2000 championship.
“The important thing for me this yr has been simply taking what I can get,” stated Gold, who positioned tenth in factors following his rookie season in 2019. “I’ve made clear passes and haven’t pressured something. If the automotive is quick and I can move somebody, I’ll; but when now we have a second-place automotive, then I’ll take second place. That’s helped us this yr and we’ve actually gotten the podiums. You’ll be able to’t make any errors on this championship, so you need to be good in your strikes.
“However the Capes have a lot information. They’ve had so many champions they usually’ve actually helped me enhance my craft. My plan, plain and easy, is to beat Christian on observe. So long as we end forward of him and acquire as many factors as potential in New Jersey, we’ll be proper there as we head to St. Pete.”
Because the previous few race weekends have proven, there is no such thing as a scarcity of proficient younger drivers in search of to say their very own slice of glory. Considered one of Gold‘s Cape Motorsports teammates, Michael d’Orlando, broke via together with his first win at Mid-Ohio. One other, rookie Josh Inexperienced, additionally has been a daily podium contender. Inexperienced, moreover, is considered one of only a few drivers within the subject with prior expertise at NJMP, having earned three podium finishes, together with one win, in FRP F1600 Championship Collection competitors in 2019.
Brazilian Eduardo Barrichello, son of former Ferrari F1 race winner Rubens Barrichello, lies third within the factors desk following a pair of wins on the Indianapolis Grand Prix street course for Pabst Racing in early September.
Different contenders will embrace rookies Christian Brooks (Unique Autosport) and Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), each of whom loved a breakthrough weekend at Indianapolis with a pair of podium finishes (with Porto additionally snaring two pole positions); and Jack William Miller, with two podium finishes so far for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports.
USF2000 ENTRY LIST
The USF2000 schedule mirrors that of Indy Professional 2000 with three take a look at periods on Friday, half-hour of official apply at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and the primary of two qualifying periods at 12:00 midday. The inexperienced flag for the primary of three 45-minute races will fly at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday will begin with one other qualifying session at 9:00 a.m., adopted by two extra races at 12:00 midday and three:45 p.m. EDT.
All Saturday and Sunday observe exercise will probably be reside streamed on the Highway to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV and the collection web site, usf2000.com.