BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With a familiar last name to racing fans around the world, Jagger Jones has begun carving his own niche in the open-wheel ranks. The 19-year-old grandson of Parnelli Jones claimed his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory today driving for Cape Motorsports with an impressive run at Barber Motorsports Park. It is the second podium finish in four starts for the Scottsdale, Arizona, resident.
“We’ve had the pace all weekend, and we finally did it,” Jones said. “That’s what it came down to – me putting it all together – getting a good start and getting into the lead. I made sure to make no mistakes. The Cape brothers gave me such a good car. All I had to do was hit my marks, keep it on track and not do anything extravagant. And that’s what got me to victory lane.”
Teammate Michael d’Orlando made his second visit to the podium at Barber, albeit going one better than yesterday with a second-place result. Christian Weir, from Naperville, Illinois, who secured his first-ever Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying yesterday, completed the podium for Turn 3 Motorsport.
The 25-lap race originally scheduled for 9:00 am CT was delayed due to a heavy thunderstorm and lightning in the area. The reshuffled schedule allowed the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires field to take to the track first to accommodate a television window. The green flag for USF2000’s Race 2 of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama – shortened to 25 minutes – slotted in at 11:10 am under sunny skies.
The opening laps bore witness to tremendous battles throughout the field with the front row of Weir and yesterday’s race winner Myles Rowe of Pabst Racing displaced to third and fourth respectively as the Cape Motorsports train of Jones and d’Orlando took over the top positions.
The field began settling in at the front but the reminder of the grid continued to jockey for position. The biggest mover was Nicky Hays in a fourth Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-22, who started 11th and claimed his career best finish to date with a seventh-place run to earn the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
The first and only yellow flag for both USF2000 and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires to date this weekend occurred on Lap 13 when Danny Dyszelski, making only his second career start for Jay Howard Driver Development, had an off in Turn 4.
Jones, who at that stage had amassed a 1.4 second gap over his teammate, was unchallenged as the green flag waved the following lap. He ended the 17-lap race with a half-second advantage and earned team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape their first PFC Award of the season.
Billy Frazer of Exclusive Autosport recovered from a pit stop for front wing damage in the opening turns to post the fastest lap of the race.
Rowe and Simon Sikes (Legacy Autosport) rounded out the top five.
Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), who was tied in points yesterday with Rowe for the championship lead, finished two laps down after contact with Jacob Douglas of Exclusive Autosport in the closing stages.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will return to action in two weeks’ time with a tripleheader event, once again in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit on May 13 – 14.
Provisional Points after 4 of 18 Rounds:
1. Myles Rowe, 86
2. Michael d’Orlando, 86
3. Jagger Jones, 78
4. Jace Demark, 70
5. Billy Frazer, 70
6. Simon Sikes, 63
7. Bijoy Garg, 57
8. Christian Weir, 55
9. Thomas Nepveu, 53
10. Nicky Hays, 46