Rookie Kyle Kirkwood and his Cape Motorsports team have already taken a stranglehold on this year’s USF2000 Championship but are sure to face stiff opposition this week from Oconomowoc, Wis.-based Pabst Racing. The local team has high hopes of emulating its form from 2017, when rookie Rinus VeeKay won both races, bringing eventual champion Oliver Askew’s sequence of five wins to a screeching halt.
All four Pabst cars, driven by Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., Brazilian Lucas Kohl, Guyana’s Calvin Ming and Sweden’s Rasmus Lindh, were fast in last week’s test, with Frederick leading the way with a lap comfortably inside Askew’s existing lap record.
“My teammates helped me to improve – we push each other to go quicker and that improves all of us,” said Frederick, 16, who finished fourth in last year’s championship and has bounced back from a difficult start to his sophomore season by finishing second in the most recent race on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval.
“It’s an important race for us, since the team is from here. They were so successful here last year and that gives us even more information about the track and what to expect come race weekend.”
Championship leader Kirkwood, who was comfortably quickest on Day One of the test, remains confident of being able to maintain or even extend his championship advantage.
“We still have the same approach as always,” asserted Kirkwood, whose own streak of five consecutive top-five finishes, including three wins, has taken him to a commanding 61-point lead in the chase for a $325,000 Mazda Scholarship to advance to Pro Mazda in 2019. “I think this entire year we’ve been pretty risk-less. So I believe our current strategy is quite good… in any situation. Technically, we only have to maintain, but we will always strive for wins.”
Alex Baron, from Narbonne, France, who carries dual French and British citizenship, currently holds second in the points table for Swan-RJB Motorsports. His roller-coaster campaign has included two wins and two retirements.
The wide-open nature of this year’s USF2000 title-chase is perfectly exemplified by the fact that drivers from six different teams are represented among the top seven in the points table, with Mexico’s Jose Sierra, in third place for DEForce Racing, being pursued by Japanese-born Brazilian Igor Fraga (Exclusive Autosport), the Pabst pair of Lindh and Kohl, and Newman Wachs Racing’s Darren Keane.
Others to watch include Kory Enders of DEForce Racing, Julian Van der Watt of Team Pelfrey and Michael d’Orlando of Team Benik – all of whom posted fast times within the top 10 at the recent test.
Two new drivers will make their first appearances this weekend. Jacob Abel, from Louisville, Ky., will drive for his own family-run team, while Singapore native Danial Frost has joined Exclusive Autosport after shining in the South East Asia Formula 4 series.
The impressive 26-car field will kick off with a half-hour practice session at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, followed by two qualifying sessions later in the day at 12:45 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. The first of two races for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda will see the green flag at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, with the second race set for Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. All times are CDT.
Content and image provided courtesy of the Mazda Road to Indy.