SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Jay Howard Driver Development’s Salvador De Alba, from Guadalajara, Mexico was credited with victory in today’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Indianapolis Supporting INDYCAR Ministry after race winner and teammate Braden Eves’ Tatuus IP-22 failed post-race tech inspection.
The penalty moved Pabst Racing’s Yuven Sundaramoorthy, from Delafield, Wis., into second – his first podium finish of the season – and teammate Colin Kaminsky into third.
A topsy-turvy day for the Indy Pro 2000 contenders began this morning when Irish rookie Jonathan Browne provided a surprise on the final lap of qualifying by leaping from outside the top five to the top spot, earning his first Cooper Tires Pole Award for Turn 3 Motorsport.
Browne led the way into Turn One but braked a little too deep for the tight right-hand corner. The slight error provided an opportunity for outside front row qualifier Louis Foster (Exclusive Autosport), from Basingstoke, England, to cut back to the inside and make a move around the outside as they headed into the left-handed Turn Two. Unfortunately, as Browne fought to maintain his momentum, his car slid sideways under acceleration and then, as Browne fought for control, he tipped Foster’s left-rear wheel. The contact was minimal but it was enough to send Foster into a spin, which also collected an innocent Jack William Miller, from nearby Carmel, Ind., who had started fourth in his Miller Vinatieri Motorsports’ Tatuus IP-22. Both were out on the spot.
After a full-course caution to retrieve the damaged cars, Browne once again took off into the lead, only to be assessed a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility.
Eves, having started 10th, had managed to negotiate the first-lap mayhem to emerge in second and duly took over the point. He made one slight slip on Lap 11 which handed the lead briefly to Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., but Eves soon fought back and went on to dominate the remainder of the race.
A mistake by Kaminsky enabled De Alba to move into second, despite having started 12th, whereupon he fought desperately – and successfully – to maintain that position from Sundaramoorthy to the finish line to claim the Tilton Hard Charger Award. Reece Gold (Juncos Hollinger Racing), who started sixth but fell to 14th following the opening lap melee, rounded out the top five.
Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development) earned the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race.
Lindsay Brewer of Exclusive Autosport impressed on her Indy Pro 2000 debut, finishing eighth with a best lap time only .1054 seconds off Eves’ best.
Two more races will be held tomorrow with the green flags set to fly at 9:10 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. EDT.
Provisional Points Standings after 5 of 18 Rounds:
1. Nolan Siegel, 104
2. Louis Foster, 98
3. Reece Gold, 93
4. Enaam Ahmed, 91
5. Braden Eves, 83
6. Josh Green, 82
7. Kiko Porto, 76
8. Colin Kaminsky, 72
9. Yuven Sundaramoorthy, 68
10. Salvador De Alba, 67
Salvador De Alba (#6 Groupo Indi/Mecano/Sidral Aga/Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus IP-22): “It’s been a tough start to the year but the team has supported me the whole way, and we’re getting up to speed – I think this race showed what we can do and how confident we are now. It was a crazy race, I was defending the whole way, but the car felt good. My dad is here, as well as all my sponsors, so I’m very happy to put my country on the podium at Indianapolis!”
Yuven Sundaramoorthy (#18 S Team Motorsports/Pabst Racing): “This track is very attrition-based, so you knew something would happen at the start. It wasn’t the start I wanted, so I fell back, but I had a really fast car. I sat back and waited – I saw the two DEForce guys go side-by-side and hit the brakes because I knew something would happen. I played it safe knowing there was no reason to push for a gap that wasn’t there in a 25-lap race. Pabst Racing gave me an amazing car and I love this track, so it’s all about experience and knowing where you’re fast. I set up the Juncos cars toward the end and tried it with Salvador, but just came up a lap short. We still have two sets of sticker tires for tomorrow, so I’ll look for a better start.”