Experienced Englishman Alex Quinn made a storybook Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship debut this afternoon in the first of three races which will comprise this week’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Quinn, 21, took control in the late stages of an incident filled 15-lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit to score a first-ever USF2000 victory for the Velocity Racing Development team.
New Zealand’s Billy Frazer maintained his remarkable record of finishing second in the opening race of each event weekend this season for Exclusive Autosport, despite starting 10th on the grid. Third-generation racer Jagger Jones claimed an eventful third for Cape Motorsports after starting from pole position.
Jones, after scoring his maiden victory a couple of weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park, continued his fine form by snagging his first Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying earlier this morning. He was joined on the front row by Quinn, who has gained success in a variety of European open-wheel championships dating back to 2016.
The long front straightaway on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit always provides excitement in the heavy braking area for Turn 1, only this time there was drama virtually as soon as the cars took the green flag when Nicky Hays lost his Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22’s front wing in the initial jockeying for position. Teammate Jackson Lee also pitted for repairs during the subsequent caution period.
Championship leader Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) was the biggest gainer at the start, leaping from seventh to second before the caution flags flew, and the gifted youngster continued his progress at the restart by grasping the lead at Turn 1.
Jones found himself shuffled down to third in the early skirmishes, although two laps later he was back in the lead after Quinn’s attempt to pass Rowe at Turn 1 instead cost both of them momentum and allowed the polesitter to reclaim the lead.
The action was frantic, so it came as no real surprise when the caution flags waved again on the sixth lap following an incident at Turn 4 between the top two championship protagonists, Rowe and Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports).
Quinn made his move decisive for the lead at the restart on lap 10, and while Jones briefly fell back to fourth following a four-wide tussle at Turn 1, he was back into second again before the completion of that lap.
There was one more brief caution after Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing) found himself in the kitty litter at Turn 1, setting the stage for a three-lap blast to the finish.
This time Quinn used his experience to excellent effect, jumping clear of his pursuers as Frazer pulled off a bold outside-line move on Jones for second place at Turn 1. Quinn also set the fastest lap of the race as he cleared off to win by just over two seconds from Frazer and Jones, who was relatively content to secure third and the championship points lead.
“That was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car,” said Quinn. “This was a very last-minute deal last week: I knew Dan (Mitchell) from England, I knew he was a very talented team manager and engineer. I’ve raced the Tatuus chassis before so this feels similar, and it’s got the Cooper tires, which I’m enjoying driving. There are a few things that are different but after I got used to things and after an engine change, everything felt great — I felt at one with the car.
“This is a big, wide-open track, which is new to me, and there was a lot of overtaking, which was also new for me — in the racing I’ve done, it’s very ‘follow the leader’ so this was very enjoyable. Turn 1 is a very tricky corner, especially three-wide, but we all gave each other room.”
Turn 3 Motorsport teammates Christian Weir and Spike Kohlbecker steered clear of the drama to finish fourth and sixth, sandwiching Thomas Nepveu (DEForce).
Jorge Garciarce emerged in an impressive seventh after starting last in the 21-car field to comfortably claim his first Tilton Hard Charger Award. He was chased home by Jay Howard Driver Development teammate and USF2000 debutant Frankie Mossman, from LaVerne, Calif., who also started at the back of the pack.
Quinn’s fine performance ensured a PFC Award for Velocity Racing Development’s Dan Mitchell as the winning car owner.
Two more races tomorrow will complete the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Indianapolis, starting with Race 2 at 8:05 a.m. ET.