The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered heads to Lucas Oil Raceway northwest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the only oval event of the season. Of the current field, only Pabst Racing’s Lucas Kohl has raced at LOR before (in 2016), while Alex Baron, Kory Enders, Kaylen Frederick, Calvin Ming and Kohl raced at Iowa Speedway last season.
Most teams tested at other oval tracks in the week after the Grand Prix of Indianapolis to give some of the rookies an idea of what they’ll be facing on the .686-mile oval, including Cape Motorsports, Team BENIK, Team Pelfrey, Swan-RJB Motorsports, Juncos Racing and Exclusive Autosport, ArmsUp Motorsports, DEForce Racing and BN Racing. Mazda enters its second season with the highly successful Tatuus USF-17, powered by the 170hp Mazda MZR 2-liter engine that broke five series track records in 2017.
A new point structure is in place for 2018, awarding higher points at the oval events. A race winner now receives 45 points, instead of the 30 points available on the road courses. Two bonus points are available, for pole position and laps led.
Cape Motorsports’ Kyle Kirkwood and Swan-RJB Motorsports’ Baron have split the first four victories of the season to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Kirkwood, 19, holds a 13-point lead over Baron, 23, with DEForce Racing’s Jose Sierra third, 42 points back of Kirkwood. However, only 15 points separate positions fourth through 11th in the title chase, with 19 drivers recording top-finishes in only four races.
Several drivers and teams have local ties. DEForce Racing’s Zach Holden was born in Indianapolis and raised in Greenfield. A winner of multiple karting titles, Holden, 17, finished third in the 2017 F1600 Championship Series, his first season of auto racing. Swan-RJB Motorsports is located in Brownsburg, while Team Pelfrey calls Zionsville home.
The Cooper Tires Freedom 75 takes the green flag Friday at 6:05 p.m. ET.