INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The traditional Carb Night Classic – “The Race Before the 500″ – is set to take place this evening at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, just a few miles west of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which will host the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday. As usual, the two junior levels on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – will be part of an action packed event which will also feature the USAC Midget and Silver Crown series on the famed 0.686-mile oval.
Despite inclement weather yesterday morning which caused a late start to proceedings, a pair of 30-minute sessions during the afternoon allowed competitors to gain some track time prior to official qualifying, which took place later in the evening.
The format required each driver to complete two qualifying laps, running one at a time in reverse order of their current championship positions.
In USF2000, Michael d’Orlando (Cape Motorsports), from Hartsdale, N.Y., who stands third in the standings, albeit just two points out of the lead, posted the best two-lap average of 110.194 mph (44.8229 seconds) to earn his first Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season. D’Orlando not only will have the premier starting position for this evening’s Cooper Tires Freedom 75, he is also the defending race champion, having scored his maiden USF2000 victory in the corresponding event in 2021.
Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing), from Atherton Calif., will start second on the grid after posting the fastest times in both test sessions earlier in the day.
Pabst Racing teammates Myles Rowe, from New York, N.Y., and Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., will share row two, with Garg’s teammate Thomas Nepveu, from Oka, Que., Canada, and championship leader Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports), from Scottsdale, Ariz., on the third row.
The Indy Pro 2000 qualifying session was thoroughly dominated by Juncos Hollinger Racing with Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., and Enaam Ahmed, from London, England, comfortably clear of the pack.
Gold, who also qualified on the pole last year but was eventually beaten by reigning series champion Christian Rasmussen, emerged with the better two-lap average of 119.470 mph (41.3426 seconds), although Ahmed, in his very first oval event, posted the fastest lap at 120.203 mph (20.5452 seconds).
Louis Foster (Exclusive Autosport), from Basingstoke, England, qualified third quickest at an average of 118.358 mph (41.7310 seconds), with points leader Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), from Palo Alto, Calif., and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst Racing), from Delafield, Wis., completing the top five.
Weather permitting, the USF2000 drivers are scheduled to have one more 15-minute practice at 4:05 p.m. EDT, with the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 slated to start at 7:05 p.m. The Cooper Tires Freedom 90 for Indy Pro 2000 follows an identical pattern with a practice at 4:25 p.m. and the race at 8:05 p.m.
Live streaming for both races will be available at RoadToIndy.TV, the Road to Indy TV App and the respective series websites, usf2000.com and indypro2000.com.
Reece Gold (#55 The Ticket Clinic-Juncos Hollinger Racing Tatuus PM-22): “Great day here (Thursday) at Lucas Oil Raceway. Practice went great, the team gave me a great car, as always, so just super-happy. We got our second pole in a row here, and hopefully we can convert it into a win this time, which is super exciting. I’m glad we were able to get on track (after the morning rain) and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The team gave me a mega car.”
Michael d’Orlando (#4 Focused Project Management/DB Collaborative-Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22): “What a weird day! That’s the best way to put it, honestly. We were supposed to go out at 11 a.m. and it rained all the way through 2:00 p.m. We finally went out on track at 4:00. Today was tough because we had back-to-back sessions, and only had 40 minutes in between, so it was hard to get the setup right and hard to get the driving down. But we ended up on the pole position so, honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of how the team and I performed. Everyone at Cape Motorsports just did a fantastic job putting everything together and making sure the car was perfect for qualifying. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. This DB Collaborative/Cape Motorsports No. 4 car was super-fast and I’m excited.”