Cape Motorsports Readies for Success in 2022
 February 19, 2022| 
  • Team News
Cape StP Advance 2022

With an extensive winter testing program – and a successful series Spring Training – complete, the team looks to the season opener at St. Pete

BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Having led two of four sessions in last week’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship’s annual Spring Training test, the Cape Motorsports team turns its attention to the task at hand: beginning the quest for a 14th championship title on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

141 days have passed since the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship last turned a wheel on a race weekend. With a stout driver lineup – Michael d’Orlando (Hartsdale, NY), Nicky Hays (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Jagger Jones (Scottsdale, Ariz.), and Jackson Lee (Avon, Ind.) – the Cape team looks to continue its history of success that includes championship titles in nine of the past 11 seasons.

It has been a great off season,” said Dominic and Nicholas Cape, whose eponymous team was based in St. Petersburg before their move to the Indianapolis area several years ago. “Everyone has worked tirelessly over the winter and during the preseason testing. The team has done an excellent job with the cars and our drivers have really driven well during the tests. It was great to add Nicky to the lineup of Michael, Jagger and Jackson, everyone gets on really well. The Spring Training test was just a culmination of everyone's efforts all the way down the line – it's a great start for us as a team but realistically, we have a lot of work ahead of us and some great teams and drivers to fight tooth and nail with every weekend. We can't wait to start the season in our old backyard.”

The 2022 Cape team boasts perhaps the tallest driver rosters in history (with d’Orlando and Lee at 6’4”, Jones at 6’2” and Hays at 5’10”) and one of the most studious (with d’Orlando, Jones and Lee all balancing racing and college life, while Hays works on a budding real estate business away from the racetrack). Focused on the highest levels of success this season, the team served notice at last week’s “Spring Training” series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first chance the entire field of drivers had to compare their times in a competitive setting.

In the first session, d’Orlando and Jones topped the speed charts, separated by only .034 of a second, while Hays led session two. Spring Training wrapped up the team’s winter testing schedule, with the drivers sharing seven to 10 test days (depending on the individual driver’s schedule) to ready themselves for the eight-event, 18-race season that encompasses all racing disciplines – street course, road course and oval.

Lee and d’Orlando both have experience on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., with d’Orlando capturing a podium in race two last year. For Jones and Hays, this weekend marks their first experience on a street course in the Tatuus USF-22 (Hays competed at Pau in French F4 in 2019). A lone Thursday practice session leads into race one qualifying Saturday morning, with race one Saturday afternoon and race two Sunday morning ahead of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener. Tune into USF2000.com for all the action!

QUOTEBOARD

MICHAEL D’ORLANDO – No. 4 Focused Project Management  

“We had a plan last Monday to set the tone in that first session, doing hard laps and put down some flying laps – and we were able to do that. We worked on race stints in the afternoon, so I feel as though we’re used to the car again and ready for St. Pete. The Capes gave us all great cars, all four drivers are doing well. We have a strong team this year, I think we’ll do really well. I raced against Nicky in F4, I’ve raced karts against Jagger a ton and I’ve really had the chance to get to know Jackson, he’s had great pace this winter.

“I feel confident going into St. Pete, I’m the most prepared that I’ve ever been. It would be great to get two podiums, and maybe even two wins – that would really set the tone for the year. Experience on the street course is an advantage but it’s easy to learn once you get used to the walls. We’ll be pushing hard.”

NICKY HAYS – No. 5 Touchstone Helicopters/Molecule Sports

“This was a last-minute deal, so last Monday was my first laps in the car. After driving the heavy GT cars I’ve driven for the past few years, it took a bit of time to make the transition. We didn’t go out to set the world on fire but with new tires in session two, I was happy to put the car P1. That was a good confidence boost. I know it’s a process, but so far so good. Cape has a strong team this year so I’m comparing myself to what I believe is the sharp end of the field, so it’s a great environment. Dominic, Nicholas and the entire team have the common goal of winning and that pushes you to get the most out of yourself and the others around you.

“I raced at Pau in French F4 but it was in the rain, so I’m looking forward to St. Pete! There’s a bit of an advantage for the series veterans, but since we can’t go there to test, it will show who can get up to speed quickly and find that limit quickly. I did that at Spring Training so hopefully I can reap the benefits of that this weekend.”

JAGGER JONES – No. 3  

“All the testing we’ve done this off-season led up to a good result in Spring Training last week. We worked on setup and getting me up to speed on how the changes we make affect a formula car. We were fast in the morning last week then focused on race runs, making sure we are good to go as the season starts. We have a solid team – I’ve raced with both Michael and Nicky in our karting days and have been working with Jackson throughout the winter. Michael has so much experience in the series and it’s great to have him to see how I stack up.

“The most important thing at St. Pete is to be disciplined. It’s my first street race in a car and my first formula car race, so it’s about not staying calm and settled. Do whatever it takes to be fast but don’t exceed the limits – take what the car gives you. If we do that, I think we’ll be up front with a chance to win.”

JACKSON LEE – No. 2 IU Cancer Center/Browning Chapman/Spruce

“We’ve done a ton of pre-season testing so we came into last week with a good idea of where we were. It was a good chance to make sure we were set ahead of St. Pete. We were all comfortable at the end of the day and I think we’re in a good position. The team has done a great job to help me prepare – I’ve never had this much experience at the start of the season. Their experience really shows, with the success they’ve had. They know where they’re doing!

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since we left Mid-Ohio last year. I know what to expect this year and I know we’ll have a shot at a good result – we don’t have much track time so it’s important to maximize every lap.”

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