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.
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