BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Myles Rowe put an exclamation point to his 2022 championship aspirations at Barber Motorsports Park this afternoon following a flawless performance en route to his second consecutive victory in the three rounds held to date of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The 21-year-old Pabst Racing driver from Atlanta, Ga., claimed his first Cooper Tires Pole Award yesterday and has now moved into the championship lead albeit equal in points with teammate Jace Denmark.
New Zealander Billy Frazer continued his fine form from the opening rounds to finish second for Exclusive Autosport with Michael d’Orlando – who was second in the championship last year – claiming his first podium of the season following a pair of fourth-place finishes in St. Petersburg.
Rowe held his own in a chaotic opening lap that saw front-row qualifier Bijoy Garg of DEForce Racing fall to fifth and third-place starter Jagger Jones of Cape Motorsports relinquished to 10th. When the field began their second lap around the scenic Barber Motorsports Park road course, it was Simon Sikes of Legacy Autosport settling nicely into second with Frazer third and d’Orlando fourth.
The pointy end of the field remained unchanged for the first 15 laps until Frazer began his hunt in earnest for Sikes. The pair were side-by-side on Lap 16 in the Turn Seven-Eight combo with Frazer pulling an over/under to nab second and Sikes going off-track. Sikes resumed in fifth with a thank you from both d’Orlando – who posted the fastest lap of the race – and Garg who gained a position.
Rowe toured the final lap of the 2.3-mile circuit with a comfortable 1.7 second advantage at the checkers earning the second PFC Award for team owner Augie Pabst.
Following Sikes in fifth, Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing), Christian Weir (Turn 3 Motorsport), Nicky Hays (Cape Motorsports), Jagger Jones and Spike Kohlbecker (Turn 3 Motorsport w/Ignite Autosport) rounded out the top 10.
In earlier qualifying this morning for Round 2 of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama, Weir has claimed his first career Cooper Tires Pole Award and will lead the field to the green at 9:00 am CDT tomorrow.
Provisional Points after 3 of 18 Rounds:
1. Myles Rowe, 67
2. Jace Denmark, 67
3. Billy Frazer, 65
4. Michael d’Orlando, 60
5. Bijoy Garg, 47
6. Jagger Jones, 47
7. Simon Sikes, 46
8. Thomas Nepveu, 38
9. Spike Kohlbecker, 35
10. Christian Weir, 32 / Nicky Hays, 32
Myles Rowe (#22 Penske Entertainment/Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-22): “It is awesome to win here, I have so much family here – I had no idea so many of them were here! It means so much to me since I saw my first open-wheel race at Barber when I was 16. I remember watching Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves) – they talked to me after the race and Helio invited me into the transporter. That was such a revolutionary moment for me, and my passion for racing skyrocketed after that. I fell in love with racing more than I thought possible here at Barber, so to win here is so amazing.
“The pressure was on right from the start. I want to apologize to Jagger, I had no idea he was trying to stick with me on the outside. It was a great pace, great consistency – huge thanks to Pabst Racing for giving me such a great car. Today was all about starting well, keeping it out front and managing the race from there. I gained a good bit of confidence at St. Pete – being the first race of the year and a street course, you know that if you do well there, you have good adaptability and you’ll probably do well everywhere. It was good to know the pace is there. It’s just about executing from there.”
Billy Frazer (#92 Corpay Cross-Border Solutions/Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-22): “Barber has a reputation as a difficult track to pass at, but I think I proved that wrong today. Sixth to second, I’m super proud of myself and of the team. I was greedy on the first lap and it almost cost me – we were three-wide for most of it. I went onto the grass on the museum corner but I kept it together and was able to pressure Simon into a late mistake. We faced adversity earlier in the weekend, in quali two, so I know I have a tough job ahead of me in Race Two tomorrow, but as the guys said on the radio, these are the races that win championships.”
Michael d’Orlando (#4 Focused Project Management/Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22): “My start wasn’t terrible, but it could have been way better. I started on the inside of Row 3 so I wasn’t in the best position. Jagger went, then Billy went around the outside and I was a sitting duck. I made up one position and sat in fourth for most of the race. I was trying to chase them down, so I got the fastest race lap, but I focused on being smooth and safe. Simon went off late and I found myself in P3. I’m super proud of that race and I’m looking for more tomorrow.”