Let nothing take away from Kyle Kirkwood’s spectacular season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, but Kirkwood certainly has enjoyed – and/or earned – his share of good fortune, as evidenced again today at Mid-Ohio when pole-sitter Kaylen Frederick outbraked himself at Turn 2 on the opening lap and gifted second-place qualifier Kirkwood the lead. Needless to say, the talented 19-year-old took full advantage by romping away to his ninth win of the season – and eighth in succession – for Cape Motorsports.
Lucas Kohl salvaged second place for Pabst Racing for the second straight day, while Igor Fraga fought his way past Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh at half-distance to complete the podium for Exclusive Autosport.
Once Frederick had lost another opportunity to claim a long overdue maiden victory, teammates Kohl and Lindh exchanged places on the opening lap with Kohl, who started fourth, sneaking past Lindh to emerge in second position. Fraga tucked in behind, followed by Michael d’Orlando, who once again displayed good speed for Team BENIK.
After an early caution to recover Oscar DeLuzuriaga’s Newman Wachs Racing car following a spin at the Carousel and then another to remove the stricken cars of Sabre Cook (Team BENIK) and Frederick – who had been attempting to fight his way back through the field – Kirkwood once again took off into the lead.
His eventual margin of victory was a comfortable 5.7167 seconds. The result earned winning car owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape their ninth PFC Award of the season in just 11 races.
“Kaylen locked up going into Turn 2 and went straight, and that put us in a good position,” Kirkwood said. “Our car is good out front; we have a really good racecar and we could pull away on the first few laps. I wasn’t too nervous on the restarts because of that – it was just another chance to pull out a gap. The toughest part was trying to take care of the car but also pushing as hard as we could to get a good time for tomorrow’s race.
“Even though I’ve clinched the title, the goal stays the same, to keep winning races and to try to tie for most wins in a season. This point of the season is the most important. We’ve won the championship but we have to prove that we won’t let up. If we relax, that would show that I’m not extremely focused and that’s not the case. This is just the beginning of my career so I’m going to keep charging.”
Fraga made his move on Lindh on Lap 10, shortly after the restart, to secure his third podium of the year, although Lindh’s fourth-place finish was enough to maintain a one-point advantage over Fraga for second place in the championship with three races remaining. The result also enabled Pabst Racing to extend its Team Championship lead to nine points, 268-259, over Cape Motorsports.
Dakota Dickerson (ArmsUp Motorsports) made up four positions from 11th on the grid on the opening lap and then ran as high as fifth for much of the 20-lap race before being overtaken just two laps from the finish by Calvin Ming (Pabst Racing).
Dickerson was chased home by Colin Kaminsky (DEForce Racing), who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after fighting his way from 16th on the grid to seventh ahead of Julian Van der Watt (Team Pelfrey), Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport) and Yuven Sundaramoorthy, who continued to make strong progress during his maiden USF2000 weekend with Exclusive Autosport to complete the top 10.
With the grid for tomorrow’s third leg of the weekend’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Powered by Mazda being set according to each driver’s fastest race lap today, several drivers opted to make pit stops after falling out of contention in order to ensure a clear run and start as far up tomorrow’s field as possible. The most successful of these was James Raven (DEForce Racing), who eclipsed Kirkwood’s best effort to secure the fastest lap of the race at 1m21.3348s. Raven, also in his first weekend of USF2000 competition, will start on the pole for tomorrow’s 12th race of the season.