LEXINGTON, Ohio – Honors were shared following Saturday’s first leg of the doubleheader Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by VP Stay Frosty.
Yuven Sundaramoorthy took the checkered flag for Pabst Racing to claim his fourth victory of the season but it wasn’t enough to prevent Kiko Porto, who finished third, from securing the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship title for DEForce Racing.
Porto, 18, from Recife, Brazil, now holds an insurmountable 45-point edge over Michael d’Orlando who today finished second for Cape Motorsports. As the new champion, Porto earns a scholarship valued at over $400,000 to graduate into the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2022. He also clinched a first-ever Road to Indy Team Championship for DEForce Racing.
For the third race in a row, d’Orlando laid it all down in qualifying this morning to snare his fourth Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season. He duly led away from the rolling start, only to be overtaken later on the opening lap by Sundaramoorthy, who had started on the outside of the front row.
The caution flags flew almost immediately due to an incident farther down the field on the run to the first corner, but it was Sundaramoorthy at the head of the pack for the restart. The University of Wisconsin student maintained a narrow edge over d’Orlando throughout the remainder of the 20-lap race which was briefly interrupted by a second full-course caution due to an incident immediately behind the two leaders in Turn Nine on Lap 12.
Prescott Campbell (DEForce Racing), from Newport Beach, Calif., had maintained third place from the start, albeit under constant pressure from rookie Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), from Scottsdale, Ariz. Unfortunately, Denmark’s lunge to the inside under braking resulted in heavy contact between the pair. The incident proved especially costly for Denmark, who entered the race only seven points behind Spike Kohlbecker (Ignite Autosport with Cape Motorsports) in the battle for Hyperco Rookie of the Year honors. He now trails Kohlbecker, who finished 10th, by 17 points heading into Sunday’s final race of the season. Cape Motorsports’ Thomas Nepveu, from Oka, Que., Canada, also remains in contention, 14 points adrift of Kohlbecker, after finishing seventh.
Porto, who had been running directly behind Campbell and Denmark, deftly avoided the incident and was content to follow d’Orlando to the checkered flag, secure in the knowledge that the title was already within his grasp.
Josh Green, from Mount Kisco. N.Y., finished fourth for Turn 3 Motorsport, followed by rookie Myles Rowe (Force Indy), from New York, N.Y., who claimed his second top-five finish of the season to go along with his impressive win last month in wet-dry conditions at New Jersey Motorsports Park.