Alex Quinn made quite an impression on his North American debut at the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course. Quinn, 21, scored a storybook debut victory on Friday for the Velocity Racing Development team, and today added two more wins to ensure a perfect strike rate in the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Quinn took advantage of a clash between Cape Motorsports teammates Jagger Jones and Michael d’Orlando to take the win early Saturday morning. He then took the lead at the beginning of the third race and led d’Orlando and Jones in the 15-lapper run entirely under green-flag conditions.
New Zealander Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) and Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing) picked up the pieces to finish second and third in the second race.
The top three protagonists in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Jones, Frazer and d’Orlando – are now separated by just two points. Up for grabs is a scholarship valued at over $400,000 to graduate onto the next rung of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, in 2023.
The opening race of the day began bright and early at 8:05 a.m. with Jagger Jones having claimed his second successive Cooper Tires Pole Award by virtue of each driver’s second fastest lap set in qualifying on Friday morning.
Jones maintained his lead in the early stages, although a few laps were run under caution following a spin for Yeoroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development) in Turn 13.
Jones was always going to be vulnerable at the restart given the tremendous draft afforded to the USF2000 cars on the long front straightaway. Sure enough, Cape Motorsports teammate d’Orlando sling-shotted his way past into Turn 1 to lead from Jones and Friday winner Quinn.
The top three edged away from the pack, maintaining their positions until, with three laps remaining, Jones locked up his brakes into Turn 1 and nosed into the rear of d’Orlando, who spun. Quinn moved past them both to take a clear lead which he had no problem in holding until the finish.
Jones initially resumed in second before retiring to the pits with front end damage (in addition to serving a penalty issued by race control for “incident responsibility”), leaving the way clear for Frazer to move into a remarkable second place after having started 10th. Rowe bounced back from his disappointment on Friday to finish third ahead of Pabst Racing teammate Jace Denmark and d’Orlando, who was able to rejoin with the loss of only four positions.
The Tilton Hard Charger Award went to Chase Gardner who rose from 19th on the grid to 10th in his first weekend of USF2000 competition for DEForce Racing.
Jones again started from pole position for the final race of the week and, once again, was unable to hold the lead at the first corner. Quinn passed and turned a string of consistently fastest laps to stretch his advantage as the two Cape teammates battled in his mirrors. They exchanged positions at one-third distance, with d’Orlando narrowly maintaining second place to the checkered flag.
Quinn’s magnificent performance earned a sweep of PFC Awards for Velocity Racing Development owner Dan Mitchell and also catapulted the young driver to seventh place in the standings, only 38 points out of the championship lead despite missing the opening four races of the season.
The top three finished well clear of Denmark, who came under increasing pressure in the closing stages from Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing).
Another USF2000 debutant, Frankie Mossman, picked up another Tilton Hard Charger Award for Jay Howard Driver Development after climbing from 22nd on the grid to 15th.
The traditional month of May for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship contenders will continue a few miles to the west at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in a couple of weeks’ time with the only oval event of the season Friday, May 27.