SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Alex Quinn made quite an impression on his North American debut at the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course. Quinn, 21, from Truro, England, scored a storybook debut victory on Friday for the Velocity Racing Development team, and today added two more wins to ensure a perfect strike rate in the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Quinn took advantage of a clash between Cape Motorsports teammates Jagger Jones and Michael d’Orlando to take the win early this morning. He then took the lead at the beginning of the third leg of the triple-header and led home d’Orlando and Jones in the final 15-lap race which was run entirely under green-flag conditions.
New Zealander Billy Frazer (Exclusive Autosport) and Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing), from New York, N.Y., picked up the pieces to finish second and third in Race Two.
The top three protagonists in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Jones, Frazer and d’Orlando – are now separated by just two points. Up for grabs is a scholarship valued at over $400,000 to graduate onto the next rung of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, in 2023.
The opening race of the day began bright and early at 8:05 a.m. with Jagger Jones having claimed his second successive Cooper Tires Pole Award by virtue of each driver’s second fastest lap set in qualifying on Friday morning.
Jones, from Scottsdale, Ariz., maintained his lead in the early stages, although a few laps were run under caution following a spin for Yeoroo Lee (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Paramus, N.J., in Turn 13.
Jones was always going to be vulnerable at the restart given the tremendous draft afforded to the USF2000 cars on the long front straightaway. Sure enough, Cape Motorsports teammate d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., sling-shotted his way past into Turn One to lead from Jones and Friday winner Quinn.
The top three edged away a little from the pack, maintaining their positions until, with three laps remaining, Jones locked up his brakes into Turn One and unfortunately caromed into the rear of d’Orlando, who spun. Quinn gratefully moved past them both to take a clear lead which he had no problem in holding until the finish.
Jones initially resumed in second before retiring to the pits with front end damage (in addition to serving a penalty issued by Race Control for “incident responsibility”), leaving the way clear for Frazer to move into a remarkable second place having lined up in 10th on the grid. Rowe bounced back from his disappointment on Friday to finish third ahead of Pabst Racing teammate Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., and d’Orlando, who was able to rejoin with the loss of only four positions.
Frazer’s performance was impressive, but even that wasn’t enough to snag the Tilton Hard Charger Award, which went instead to Chase Gardner, from Prosper, Texas, who rose from 19th on the grid to 10th in his first weekend of USF2000 competition for DEForce Racing.
Jones again started from pole position for the final race of the week and once again he was unable to hold the lead at the first corner as Quinn launched himself into the lead. Quinn then turned a string of consistently fastest laps to stretch his advantage as the two teammates battled in his mirrors. The two Cape cars exchanged positions at one-third distance, with d’Orlando narrowly maintaining his position to the checkered flag.
Quinn’s magnificent performance not only earned a sweep of PFC Awards for Velocity Racing Development’s Dan Mitchell as the winning car owner, it also catapulted him to seventh place in the standings, only 38 points out of the championship lead… despite missing the opening four races of the season.
The top three finished well clear of Denmark, who came under increasing pressure in the closing stages from Thomas Nepveu (DEForce Racing), from Oka, Que., Canada.
Another USF2000 debutant, Frankie Mossman, from La Verne, Calif., picked up another Tilton Hard Charger Award for Jay Howard Driver Development after climbing from 22nd on the grid to 15th.
The traditional month of May for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship contenders will continue a few miles to the west at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in a couple of weeks’ time with the only oval event of the season on the evening of Friday, May 27.
Provisional championship points after 7 of 18 races:
1. Jagger Jones, 132
2. Billy Frazer, 131
3. Michael d’Orlando, 130
4. Myles Rowe, 127
5. Jace Denmark, 115
6. Simon Sikes, 97
7. Alex Quinn, 94
8. Thomas Nepveu, 92
9. Bijoy Garg, 86
10. Spike Kohlbecker, 96
Quoteboard – Race 1:
Alex Quinn (#17 VRD/Arden Motorsport-Velocity Racing Development Tatuus USF-22): “My engineer was counting down the laps and I could see the two leaders getting closer and closer, and I thought something might happen. Turn One is so chaotic, but I was pushing every lap to stay close. I knew I would be ready to pounce if it did, and it did, but I feel as though it would have been close regardless. I’m happy to get the win, it’s so cool – I took more time today to take it all in here, to see the checkered flag and really experience it. And to hear my engineer (Dan Mitchell) so excited on the radio, that made it so worth it.
“I got a good move on the race two start and Jagger gave me room, racing hard but fair. I managed the gap as well as I could and brought it home. It’s amazing.”
Billy Frazer (#92 Corpay Cross-Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-22): “Everyone learned something from yesterday and it was all about being that one step ahead in terms of racecraft, given how close the times were. Patience was key, I had Lou (D’Agostino, race engineer) and Michael (Duncalfe, team owner) on my radio. They do a fantastic job, along with my mechanic Danick (Bernier). We had a strong car but I used a bit too much tire early and Alex did a good job to break the slipstream. But we have the championship lead going into the third race so it will be about patience once again.”
Myles Rowe (#22 S Penske Entertainment-Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-22): “This morning required a lot of patience and a lot of protecting the car. My coach (Bob Perona) helped me work through that, especially after how yesterday went. The priority is the championship so that means staying out of trouble. I almost got my wing taken off at the start and I did break a toe-link, and then got caught up in a three-wide mid-race (on Friday), but I kept my cool (today) and kept the car under me. Billy had a bit more pace so I let him by on the front straight, but that paid off, since we were both able to get up there in the end.”
Michael d’Orlando (#4 Focused Project Management/DB Collaborative-Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22): “Friday’s race was tough – Myles and I got together early in the race. I’ve known Myles for a long time, we’re good friends, and while I could have waited to make the pass, I feel as though he didn’t see me. But stuff happens, it was a racing incident. Today’s first race was exciting, to say the least. I made my way to the front and was just putting down the laps, but unfortunately, Jagger and I collided in Turn One. He hit me in the rear but what can you do – that’s racing. Race two was difficult. It was the most “boring” race of the weekend but after the first two races, I was looking forward to that! It could have been one spot better today but Cape Motorsports gave me a great car, it was super fast.
Jagger Jones (#3 Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22): “We had a good first race going, I had great pace and was sitting in second, but I just made a mistake – and unfortunately, it was at the cost of a teammate, and of my race as well. It’s easy to make a mistake in the hard braking into Turn One, we saw that a lot in the Indy Lights race. So in the third race, I just wanted a clean race, though I made a mistake that cost me second. All in all, a good weekend, with two poles and two podiums. We have a lot of confidence, we know we’re fast, we just have to clean some things up and go for the win on the oval in a couple of weeks.”