Cape Motorsports remains in the thick of the title chase after Toronto doubleheader
 July 19, 2022| 
  • Team News
Cape TO 2022 Recap

D’Orlando aims for the team’s 14th series championship, while all three drivers lie in the top 10 in points with one race weekend remaining

TORONTO  – Cape Motorsports looks to add to its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship tally as a wild weekend on the streets of Toronto tightened the overall title chase. At stake: a scholarship package valued at over $400,000 that will help the winner advance up the driver development ladder into the 2023 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

The two races saw nonstop action, multiple incidents and the emergence of a third contender for the championship title. With two fourth-place finishes, Michael d’Orlando lies 25 points behind Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe, with Rowe’s teammate Jace Denmark now only one point behind d’Orlando with only the Portland tripleheader remaining.

“It was great to be back at the Toronto Grand Prix,” said Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “The atmosphere was fantastic and we really think our drivers did a great job throughout the weekend at a very difficult circuit. With a six-week break ahead of us, let's see how this all shakes out in Portland.”

The Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES journeyed north of the border for the first time in three years, in a long-awaited return to the historic street circuit at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Cape Motorsports has garnered years of data on the street circuit, enjoying significant success in Toronto with seven wins from 2014 to 2019 – including Kyle Kirkwood’s sweep in 2018 on his way to the series championship.

Drivers Michael d’Orlando (Hartsdale, NY), Jagger Jones (Scottsdale, Ariz.), and Nicky Hays (Huntington Beach, Calif.) came into the weekend with hopes of continuing that success, with all three seeing the track for the first time. Entering the penultimate weekend, d’Orlando sat second in the championship, with Jones fourth and Hays ninth.

Friday’s lone practice session was of little value in terms of setup and speed, as the series was first on a track that had virtually no grip on its’ dusty city streets. The drivers worked to learn the nuances of the track’s tricky 11-turn, 1.786-mile layout – and all three set times that placed them in the top 10 at the end of the session.

Both sessions of qualifying (Friday afternoon and Saturday morning) saw the top five spots constantly changing through the 20-minute sessions. For race one, Jones consistently posted top times to lead the team with a second-place starting spot, with d’Orlando fifth and Hays eighth. For race two, the top four in points would start in the top four on track, with Jones second and d’Orlando fourth and Hays 12th, unfortunately losing his flyer lap to a red flag.

Race one

Jones made a move at the start from second but was not able to get around Jace Denmark in the top spot – and their battle opened the door for points leader Myles Rowe to take second on the opening lap. Further back, d’Orlando – knowing that he had to make a move with Rowe ahead of him – took fourth and attached himself to Jones’ rear wing. Hays was also battling for position, taking sixth on lap two as Rowe took the lead.

The field settled in after the chaotic opening laps, with each driver making measured feints but holding position – though teammates Jones and d’Orlando set fast lap times within two-tenths of a second of each other midway through the race. The pair pushed as hard as they could but were not able to get around Denmark to have the chance to reach Rowe in the lead. Jones and d’Orlando finished third and fourth respectively, with Hays up to sixth.

Race two

At the drop of the green on Sunday morning, Jones moved alongside Rowe just in front, determined to fight for the lead. The pair raced side-by-side through four corners but Jones wisely backed off before the infamous Toronto walls took their toll. D’Orlando remained on Jones’ rear wing, hoping to force a mistake – but behind d’Orlando, teammate Hays was hit from behind, puncturing a tire that sent him to pit lane for a quick replacement.

A mid-race caution kept the leaders connected, and at the green, the top four were stapled nose-to-tail, each hoping to force the other into a mistake. Jones moved alongside Rowe, but the pair touched, with Jones losing his front wing later in the lap – along with most of his downforce. With valuable championship points at stake, d’Orlando pounced on lap 11 to take third position. With front grip affected, Jones had to hold on as the laps ticked away, with a late-race caution helping the effort.

On the final lap, d’Orlando pulled to the inside of Rowe in Turn Eight, getting alongside on the right-hander but with little room in the subsequent corner. Rowe caught the tires and tagged d’Orlando, sending the rear of the No. 4 Tatuus into the air. Both cars continued, though down the race order. At the checkered flag, d’Orlando took fourth, with Jones holding on for sixth. Hays recovered well, bringing the car home in 10th.

Only one more race weekend remains in the 2022 season for Cape Motorsports and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship: the triple-header season finale at Portland International Raceway September 1 – 4. Tune into USF2000.com for all the action!

QUOTEBOARD

MICHAEL D’ORLANDO – No. 4 Focused Project Management/UFC Gym

Race 1: Start – 5th / Finish – 4th

Race 2: Start – 4th / Finish – 4th

Championship standing:  2nd

“We had the speed, we had the pace, we just didn’t have the luck in qualifying, but we did the best we could with the cards we were dealt. The start in race one was tough, I was boxed in and since both Pabst drivers started on new tires, it was even harder than usual to get by – I was behind Jagger, who was sitting behind Jace, who couldn’t catch up to Myles, so it was just a big train.

"Race two was a different story – it started in a similar way, the four of us in front separating from the rest of the field. So much happened in the early incident, when Jagger made a move on Myles and Jace slowed a bit in the corner, and Jagger hit the back of Jace. When his wing came off, we lost a lot of time. I was wicked fast and I feel as though I could have caught up without that yellow. But on that last restart, I knew it was the best opportunity to try to get by Myles when he got a bit sideways. I went to the inside in Turn Eight and he didn’t want to hit the wall, so he hit me. I lost two positions but finished ahead of Myles, so that was crucial. Jace is back in the picture now, which will make it super exciting in Portland – any of the three of us could be sitting on the top step at the end of that weekend.”

JAGGER JONES – No. 3 TotalSim US / Apex Motor Club / Simcraft

Race 1: Start – 2nd/ Finish – 3rd

Race 2: Start – 2nd / Finish – 6th

Championship standing:  4th

“We had a solid weekend, second in both races and made the most of it. It was hard to get by the Pabst guys on Saturday, we were a bit down on power. We made some adjustments overnight and were way faster than them on Sunday – but faster is one thing, passing is another. I really wanted to win, especially after getting that podium on Saturday but I had a tiny contact with the front wing and that was it. I was happy to finish sixth with no front wing, that was an intense drive. I’m happy with how the weekend went and the speed we had, I know there are a few things we can do to get three more shots at it in Portland.”

NICKY HAYS – No. 5 Touchstone Helicopters/Molecule Sports

Race 1: Start – 8th / Finish – 6th

Race 2: Start – 12th / Finish – 10th

Championship standing:  9th

“Toronto was a lot more perilous than St. Pete, much rougher and bumpier. I enjoyed that, with all the challenges. The evolution in lap times from practice to qualifying was significant but the Capes gave me a great car right off the track so I could focus on getting comfortable with the walls and focus on my pace – and I feel that it was the strongest pace I’ve had all year. I had the pace to be in the lead pack on Saturday but on Sunday, I had a good start and was up to seventh but things got bottled up and I got hit, so I had to come to pit lane for a new tire – though I was happy there wasn’t more damage, because it was a significant hit. Being a lap down, I ran a safe race, but it was frustrating because I knew we had a good car. That we finished 10th says a lot about how crazy the race was, but also how comfortable I was. I took a big step personally so I can’t wait for Portland.”

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