Texan leverages great starting position with fourth place result in race two
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Minnesota-based open wheel team JDC MotorSports took part in an historic event this past weekend (May 8-10) as the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda was part of the first-ever Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The inaugural event, which was held inside the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, served as the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2014 season and JDC MotorSports once again found its way into the top-five. Texas driver Clark Toppe turned what was looking like a rough weekend into a great outing, as he delivered a spirited drive in the second race of the doubleheader. Toppe survived rapidly changing conditions to post a 13th place finish in the opening race on Friday, laying down the second fastest time, which earned him a front row starting spot for the second race. Toppe salvaged the weekend on Saturday with an impressive fourth place finish in race two.
The historic weekend started with teams arriving to the speedway early in the week to set up shop and prepare the cars for a Wednesday test session. Toppe wheeled his No. 97 JDC MotorSports entry out of the paddock and onto the most historic pavement in American racing history for the first time on Wednesday morning, for the first of the day’s two test sessions. Toppe learned the circuit quickly and ended the first round of testing with the 14th fastest time. Between test sessions, the JDC team engineers made changes and tweaks to Toppe’s entry, which evidently paid off. Late in the second test session, Toppe ran the 10th fastest time of the session, cutting over a half second from his best time of session one.
In Thursday’s official practice sessions, Toppe struggled to find speed in the first session, but rebounded very well in the second practice. Friday was qualifying day for the USF2000 drivers and Toppe worked to find the ideal balance for in his JDC MotorSports entry as he sped around the 2.4-mile long road course. The session ended with Toppe earning the 15th starting spot for the weekend’s first race.
On Friday afternoon, USF2000 drivers would race wheel-to-wheel inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time. Toppe would roll off from the inside of the eighth row to start his first race at IMS. The event began as a ‘wet race’, as declared by the officials, meaning that the entire field was required to begin the race on the treaded Cooper rain tires. In an effort to advance Clark up the grid for the second race, the JDC crew brought the 16-year-old into the pits midway through the race, changing to slicks to allow him to post a fast time. He did exactly that, laying down the second quickest lap of the race, securing the outside pole for race two.
Starting from the outside of the front row for the back-end of the doubleheader on Saturday morning, which was run in virtually perfect May weather, Toppe’s second race went much better than the first. The Texan ran with the lead pack throughout the 18-lap run and constantly improved his pace. When the checkers flew, Toppe had earned an impressive fourth-place finish to end his trip to Indianapolis. The performance helped maintain his position in the USF2000 Championship standings, as he now sits ninth overall, just five points behind the eighth-place driver and just 20 points out of the top-five.
"The team and I struggled a little bit at the beginning of the weekend, but we figured it out when it mattered,” Toppe detailed. “We had some bad luck as well in qualifying with engine trouble, so we tried to position ourselves as best as possible for race two by pitting for slicks during the first race, which putting us on the front row for race two. I was able to keep good pace and stay up front during race two thanks to the great car that JDC gave me. Thanks to everyone who put this great event together and I hope JDC and I can keep this momentum going to the oval."
Next up for Toppe and JDC’s USF2000 effort will be the annual ‘Night Before The 500’ event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, IN. The 5/8-mile banked oval will provide excellent experience for Toppe as he focuses on continuing his development as a young American racecar driver.
About JDC MotorSports:
Involved in formula car racing since its inception in 1994, JDC MotorSports has established itself as one of the leading junior open-wheel teams in North America. Initially making its mark in the F2000 class of club racing competition, JDC MotorSports was soon a team worth watching in the pro ranks. Competing in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship, the team not only won races, but also helped develop multiple young drivers. In 2005, JDC MotorSports expanded its efforts, entering the Star Mazda Championship. Quickly becoming one of the top teams in the series, JDC captured both the driver and team titles in 2007, as well as Rookie of the Year honors, with Dane Cameron scoring a series-high three wins. In 2008, JDC MotorSports was the runner-up in the Star Mazda Championship and finished fourth in its inaugural season of F2000 Championship Series competition. The Minnesota-based team won the Star Mazda Championship title with Rookie of the Year Adam Christodoulou, and the F2000 Championship Series title with Chris Miller in 2009. The following year, JDC continued its winning ways, earning the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Championship with Connor De Philippi, and scoring a non-points win in the USF2000 National Championship. In 2011, the Minneapolis-based squad captured its third Star Mazda Championship title with Tristan Vautier, scored a win in the USF2000 National Championship, and made its Prototype Lites Championship debut, earning five podium finishes. JDC MotorSports added to its Star Mazda Championship win tally, USF2000 Championship podium total, and finished as the Prototype Lites Championship runner-up in 2012. Last year, the squad continued its run of Pro Mazda and USF2000 podium finishes, and was third in the Prototype Lites title fight.