Rookie pilot Adrian Starrantino presents team with victory, winning Race #2 from pole
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Saturday was a huge day for Jay Green and his JAY Motorsports operation, as the young squad scored its first victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Rookie driver Adrian Starrantino started on the pole position for the second race of the doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and held off Frenchman Florian Latorre to bring his team a win at the most famous track in the world. The team bagged two additional top-five finishes during the weekend as well, as 14-year-old Colton Herta stormed from the tail of the field in Race #1 on Friday to finish a stunning fifth. On Saturday, it was Henrik Furuseth’s time to drive from the back, putting a second JAY Motorsports entry in the top–five behind Starrantino, knifing through the field from 20th to finish an incredible fifth.
"I am so proud of everyone on the team,” offered Green. “It has been a very emotional week with some of the highest moments in my career mixed with some of the lowest moments as a team owner. All my drivers and crew handled themselves like professionals and moved forward with the goal of winning, and that is what we did on Saturday. Winning our first race in USF2000 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is definitely a dream come true!"
Thursday Qualifying for the opening race on Friday began on a high note, as Furuseth was the quickest during the longer 45-minute session, although the celebration did not last. Furuseth’s #96 Van Diemen came up just shy of the required minimum weight, which was due to the extended length of the session and the usage of additional fuel. Herta was also affected after qualifying third, moving him to the tail of the field with Furuseth. Although certainly a setback, it provided these young drivers with the opportunity to shine, and to gain incredible experience.
Furuseth and Herta started on row 11 and they put on a show by advancing quickly and aggressively through the field. The event was official declared as a ‘wet race’, which put all the cars on the treaded Cooper rain tires, but the track was drying rapidly, which again tested JAY’s drivers to adapt to the conditions. Herta once again proved that he’ll be a driver to watch this year, as he was able to storm through to the front, finishing fifth by the end of the 18-lap contest. Furuseth was moving through the field as well, but contact with another driver just before the midway point of the race ended his day early. Starrantino qualified 17th for the race, but after contact took him out of the hunt early on the race, his crew elected to bring him into pit lane to change to slicks, focusing instead on turning the fast lap of the race to secure the pole for Race #2. Although the time lost in the pits during green flag racing hindered any chance of a good finish, the move paid off as he turned the fastest lap of the race and guaranteed himself the pole for the second race of the double header.
“I think overall we had a great learning weekend,” offered Herta, who was competing in his second USF2000 weekend in his JAY Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian racecar. “The JAY Motorsports boys gave me a great car to make a run for the win, but the luck just wasn't on our side. Now, I’m looking forward to the oval test on Tuesday and future races, so that I can show what we are really made of.”
The wild nature of the on-and-off rain clouds that shook things up throughout the weekend shuffled the starting grid for the second race. The USF2000 series uses either a driver’s second fastest qualifying lap or their fastest lap in the first race to set the grid for Race #2, which put Starrantino on the pole thanks to his great lap in Race #1. The young F1600 graduate took full advantage of the position, slipping into second behind Victor Franzoni, the winner of the opening race of the year in St. Petersburg. Starrantino was on the move though, and he eventually slipped past the Brazilian to take over the lead, his first time at the front of the pack in the USF2000 series. Once into the lead, Adrian would never be headed, even though he showed great maturity and poise in holding off series frontrunner Florian Latorre for the win.
"This past weekend is definitely one that I’ll remember,” Starrantino enthused. “The team and I were having a bit of a tough time with the car. We made a strategic call after incidental contact in race one that would allow me to start race two from the pole. The car was awesome and I knew that I had a car to win. Winning at IMS was very special to the team and I. We’ve now turned the season around and will work for some more wins this season.”
"We had an up-and-down weekend in the GP of Indianapolis,” added Furuseth. “It started off great in qualifying with the quickest time and pole position. Unfortunately, we were a couple pounds light on weight and had to start from the back in the first race. In the race, I worked my way up the field but got taken out halfway through the race and could not finish. I started from the back again in the second race and worked my way all the way up to fifth place. All in all, I’m happy with our pace throughout the whole weekend, and we showed that we belong at the top."
The team will now look forward to the ‘Night Before The 500’ event at Lucas Oil Raceway on May 24, where they will take to the 5/8-mile banked oval for the annual race.
About JAY Motorsports:
JAY Motorsports, LLC is a family owned and operated racing organization based in Florida. Led by former racer Jay Green, the team became one of the highest rated customer service representatives within the SCCA's spec categories. With countless wins in SCCA Club and Pro competition, the team became a mainstay in junior driver development over the years. By winning the 2009 and 2012 SCCA Formula Enterprises National Championships, they propelled their drivers to win spots on the prestigious MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Team in 2009 and 2012. In addition to the 2009 and 2012 Runoffs gold medals, JAY Motorsports was the 2006 MARRS Spec Racer Ford champion, 2007 SCCA National Great Lakes Division Spec Racer Ford champion, 2008 SCCA National Great Lakes Division Spec Racer Ford and Formula Enterprises champion, 2008 SCCA Great Lakes/Central Division Formula Car Magazine Formula Enterprises champion, 2008 Carolina Cup Pro Series Spec Racer Ford champion, and 2009 SCCA Southeast Division ECR Spec Racer Ford champion. In 2012, JAY Motorsports entered the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda full-time, contesting both the National and Championship classes. Building on multiple top-10 finishes in its rookie campaign, the squad stood on the podium twice in 2013. This season, JAY Motorsports is running a multi-car operation in pursuit of the Rookie of the Year award and series title.