INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The juggernaut rolls on. Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen produced another dominant performance this evening in the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 at a picture-perfect Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, winning handsomely for the sixth race in succession for Jay Howard Driver Development.
Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., extended his streak of podium finishes to four for Cape Motorsports, while local driver Jack William Miller, from Carmel, Calif., overcame Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), from Hartsdale, N.Y., to secure his first-ever podium finish for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports.
After the initial attempt at a start was waved off due to outside front row starter Gold jumping on the throttle with a little too much alacrity, the race ran clean and green for the remainder of the 75-lap distance.
Rasmussen, who had claimed the Cooper Tires Pole Award during two-lap, single-car qualifying yesterday, withstood a strong early challenge from Gold. The 15-year-old in turn was chased by teammate d’Orlando, who had muscled his way past third-place qualifier Miller on the opening lap.
Josh Green, from Mount Kisco, N.Y., also made a fine start, vaulting from sixth on the grid to fourth in a third Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17, leaving Miller having to slot into fifth ahead of Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport), from Santa Clarita, Calif.
Gold set was to stand as the fastest lap of the race on Lap Six, but Rasmussen’s metronomic consistency soon enabled him to edge away from the continuing battle for second.
By the halfway point, the margin between first and second remained at less than two seconds, but as the leaders encountered some lapped traffic, Rasmussen was able to carve through more effectively and extend his advantage.
Rasmussen eventually took the checkered flag 6.4997 seconds ahead of Gold to earn car owner – and former series champion – Jay Howard his sixth successive PFC Award.
Gold and d’Orlando edged away from Green through the middle stages of an intense race, with Miller and Brooks, seemingly inseparable in fifth and sixth, instead closing in.
Miller took advantage of some slower traffic to nip past Green with 10 laps remaining, and then pulled a similar move on d’Orlando just three laps from the finish to clinch his podium result after a fine performance.
Green, unable to work his way through traffic as clearly as his rivals, also slipped behind Brooks, who emerged as the top rookie finisher in fifth. Green just held on ahead of Englishman Matt Round-Garrido (Pabst Racing), with Kyle Dupell (Cape Motorsports), from Portland, Ore., and two more Pabst cars, driven by Yuven Sundaramoorthy, from Guilderland, N.Y., and Brazilian Eduardo Barrichello completing the top 10.
Prescott Campbell, from Newport Beach, Calif., also impressed for Exclusive Autosport. Starting 19th and last due to an infraction in qualifying, Campbell worked his way up to 12th place to secure the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
Up next for the USF2000 contingent is a return to road course competition and one of the most eagerly awaited events of the season, the triple-header Cooper Tires USF2000 Indy Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit, on September 3-4.
Provisional championship points after six of 17 races:
1. Christian Rasmussen, 211
2. Michael d’Orlando, 126
3. Reece Gold, 124
4. Eduardo Barrichello, 107
5. Josh Green, 101
6. Matt Round-Garrido, 97
7. Christian Brooks, 91
8. Kyle Dupell, 79
9. Yuven Sundaramoorthy, 71
10. Jack William Miller, 70
Christian Rasmussen (#6 JHDD/CSU One Cure/Lucas Oil-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-17): “I had Jay (Howard) in my ear the entire race, telling me to slow down because I had a six-second lead. He wanted the win as much as me and he has so much experience, but I always want to push. But it’s hard to get around traffic on the oval, compared to the road courses. It’s a different style of driving. It’s a lot more car dependent so overtaking and using the other lanes on the racetrack is really where the car’s balance comes in to play. It’s so important, so a huge shoutout to the team for making the car as great as it is. It’s amazing to drive, it’s so consistent. There’s still so much of the season left, we’re just taking it one race at a time, and so far it’s been a lot of first places. We’re six for six. I matched my boss’ win streak! Hopefully, we can beat it at the next race.”
Reece Gold (#3 The Ticket Clinic-Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17): “It helped to have an oval under my belt from last year, though that one had a lot more yellows! It was a good race – the first half was pretty smooth until we hit lapped traffic, and it got tight. Another podium, another good result. The car felt really good, I can’t thank the team enough. Our goal this year was to win but after the DNF in the first race, we’ve been trying just to get good points. We’re back up in the fight and hopefully we can contend for wins in Indy.”
Jack William Miller (#40 Indy Dental Group LLC/Lumist-Miller Vinatieri Motorsports Tatuus USF-17): “This is big. It’s big for me and it’s big for the team. Everyone is here – my family, my sponsors. They’re all from Indy, so this means so much. But if you’d told me I would be on the podium back on Lap 50, I’d have said no way. I got shuffled back at the start on the inside, and it was miserable early. But I caught up in lapped traffic late in the race and made a move when the guys in front of me got congested. I’m starting to make up for the early DNFs this season, so we’re still in it.”
About the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires: Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is one of the most successful driver development programs in the world. Comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the ladder system provides a unique, scholarship-funded path to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES grid is comprised of numerous drivers who have come through the Road to Indy. In 2019, 23 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 were graduates including nine Indy Lights champions. The mission of the Road to Indy is to develop and advance, and that includes not only drivers but teams and personnel as well. More information can be found at http://www.roadtoindy.info, http://www.indylights.com, http://www.indypro2000.com, http://www.usf2000.com, http://www.roadtoindy.tv and http://www.indycar.com.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track in rally, rallycross and short course off-road racing. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. Connect with Cooper on Twitter and Instagram by following @TeamCooperTire or visit our website at http://www.coopertire.com.