An exciting pair of qualifying sessions at Lucas Oil Raceway set the starting grids for the two Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races which are part of the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic Race Before the 500 Friday-night event.
Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport, photo above) claimed the pole position for the Cooper Tires Freedom 90, Round 5 of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, while Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing) earned the top spot for the Cooper Tires Freedom 75, Round 5 of the USF2000 Championship.
Frost, 17, had been the pacesetter ever since the Indy Pro 2000 teams took part in a one-day test last week at the challenging and super-fast high-banked 0.686-mile oval situated just a few miles west of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Singapore driver’s substantial advantage was narrowed considerably, though, when the drivers returned to the track this afternoon for one final 30-minute practice session, but Frost laid down two excellent laps in qualifying, averaging 120.474mph, to reassert himself as the man to beat tomorrow evening.
“I had no idea I’d get my first pole on an oval,” said Frost, who has a trio of third-place finishes to his credit but a best starting position of only fourth prior to this week. “Being dominant in the test, then in practice and now qualifying to get pole — this is so exciting for me. I can’t thank the team enough for putting together such a quick car for me.
“There is a lot of pressure when you’re qualifying on an oval because everyone is watching you and it’s just those two laps, so if you mess it up you’re done,” Frost added. “You have to be so precise. When my team told me I was P1, I was screaming, but I had to hold it in because there were still other cars to go out. Once it was over, then we could celebrate.
“We’ve done well today, but the race is the big thing. We have everything where we want it and it won’t be easy, but we have to be consistent and bring it home in one piece – and in front!”
Fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood made significant progress between practice and qualifying to post the second fastest speed for RP Motorsport USA with a two-lap average of 118.936mph. Kirkwood knows what it takes to win at Lucas Oil Raceway having done just that –- from the pole position -– en route to the USF2000 championship crown last year.
This year’s two points leaders, Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports), who finished second in the championship last year, and rookie Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), will share row two of the grid, separated by just 0.0041 of a second over their two-lap runs.
Another especially noteworthy performance in qualifying was posted by veteran Charles Finelli, a lawyer by profession, who will start a career-high eighth for FatBoy Racing.
Lap speeds were much closer in the USF2000 ranks, from which Kaminsky impressively overcame a mishap during the afternoon (when he lost control and crashed in Turn 1) to also claim his first-ever pole position.
“I got loose in Turn 1, corrected too fast, and it snapped,” recounted Kaminsky. “But by the time I had finished looking at the video, the team had everything fixed and had gotten it back on the setup pad. I got my helmet on and we rolled. It was a little too close a call, but it worked. It shook me up a little bit, having a wreck like that, but it’s down to inexperience on the ovals. But when I went out for qualifying, it felt great. The Pabst team did such a great job to put it together and make me comfortable.
“I knew I would be near the top, given our pace in the test last week and earlier today, so I was pretty excited when they told me I was P1 (early on). Then we had to wait for the rest of the cars to go, so now I know a little bit of what it’s like at Indy. But it was such a great feeling, and we’re going to keep it up. We’re going to take it from the front, do the best job we can and win!”
Kaminsky emerged narrowly ahead of rookie Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing), who also secured his first front row starting position.
Reece Gold, just 14 years old, also impressed by qualifying third fastest for Cape Motorsports, which has a rich history of success at Lucas Oil Raceway, including guiding Kirkwood to victory in 2018. Gold’s more experienced teammates Darren Keane and Braden Eves (the championship leader who is unbeaten in four races this season) will start sixth and 12th respectively.
Manuel Cabrera, who had been fastest in the pre-event test before crashing, rebounded well from last week’s disappointment to qualify fourth for Exclusive Autosport.
The 75-lap Freedom 75 USF2000 race will take the green flag at 6:45 p.m., followed at 7:50 p.m. by the 90-lap Freedom 90 for Indy Pro 2000.