Interview

Darren Keane Knocks Monkey off Back with Trip to Victory Lane

TORONTO, Ontario — Over the past three years, Darren Keane has been chasing his elusive first career Cooper Tires USF2000 victory. That dream was realized this past weekend in Toronto.

“For me, it’s a weight off of my shoulders because I’ve been close a few times, especially at St. Pete,” he told  POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “It’s just like – I can’t describe it. There’s been a lot of doubt for me and myself over the past few years. So to get this close numerous times, like St. Pete, Indy and Road America; those races were all events that I finished second or was leading and something happened.

“It’s just a weight off the shoulders for me, and reassurance that I can do it. Hopefully now that I’ve been able to break through the barrier, I can get some more.”

His rookie campaign in 2017 started off slow, but he was able to capture his first career top-five in the 11th race of the season, which was in Toronto that season. That improvement carried into the following season, as he scored a pair of top-fives, including a third on the streets of St. Petersburg. However, questions remained about Keane’s future following four DNFs.

The American turned a corner during the off-season, partnering up with Cape Motorsports. It has worked out well, with just two finishes outside of the top-10 this season.

Though out of those events, Toronto will be the one that Keane never forgets. He also didn’t easily get the victory, either, as it was a battle all race long with Christian Rasmussen.

“It was super intense,” he commented. “In the beginning, Christian got a big gap and I was just kind of plugging away, a tenth here and tenth – every other lap; it was pretty even between us. Then he made a mistake and I got into the front, and I did a couple good laps.

“Then I had a terrible lap – I think the nerves got to me in that lap, and then they were right back on me. I composed myself again and got another good gap.”

He still wouldn’t get to just cruise to the win, with a late race caution coming out. But he kept himself from getting nervous, knowing he is “pretty good at race kraft,” and got a good restart to seal the deal.

Now combining Cape Motorsports’ past series success with a driver who has grown comfortable and earned a boost of a confidence, there could be plenty more wins to come before the season concludes.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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