d'Orlando Kicks Off 2022 in the Sunshine City
 March 8, 2022| 
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HARTSDALE, NY – Michael d’Orlando returned to racing action just over a week ago to kick off the 2022 season in the support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES premier event, the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. d’Orlando continues his partnership with Cape Motorsports for his third year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The Grand Prix was d’Orlando’s fourth appearance on the tricky St. Petersburg street-circuit and he was looking to start the season off with solid results.

The "Sunshine City" is unique as it presents a festival-like atmosphere in the heart of the beautiful downtown water-front, drawing over 200,000 race fans from all over the continent. The circuit is a challenge with its narrow track, limited passing zones and unforgiving concrete barriers. Making it even more of a challenge, there’s no opportunity to test on street circuits prior to races, but with d’Orlando’s previous experience here, and his solid results shown in off-season testing, he and his Cape Motorsports team felt very confident heading into the weekend.  

The weekend consisted of a test session followed by a single qualifying session and two races.  After a top-three showing in the test session on Thursday, confidence was high for qualifying the next day. 

That confidence showed early on Friday morning as d’Orlando jumped to the top of the charts quickly. Maintaining the top spot for most of the session, he looked poised for success until disaster struck. With minutes remaining, the entire field dove to pit lane for a new set of tires, which gives the opportunity for drivers to capitalize on the best track conditions with the optimum tire condition to achieve their penultimate lap.  When d’Orlando re-entered the track on his new tires, an electrical issue reared its ugly head, forcing him to retire the car and ending his session prematurely. As time wound down, and d'Orlando remained in pit lane, the last two laps from the field saw his name drop down the order for a seventh-place qualifying position.  

“It was heartbreaking.” says d’Orlando. “Watching your name scroll from that P1 spot all the way back to seventh as you sit in the car hoping to get another lap in. We were all so confident in the car and ready for a great result in qualifying so when the loom failed, we were all so disappointed. It really didn’t give us a chance to show what we were capable of. But despite that, we knew we had a car ready for racing.”

Starting from the seventh position for Race 1 that afternoon, d’Orlando quickly moved himself into sixth during the opening laps. Breathing down the neck of the competition ahead for the duration, and patiently waiting for the opportunity to make his move, d’Orlando took quick evasive action to avoid a large accident by the leaders and ultimately brought home a solid fourth-place result.

The starting positions for Race 2 were based on the second-fastest laps of each competitor in the qualifying session or fastest lap in Race 1, proving d'Orlando's equipment issues would play a major factor in his entire weekend. However, an eight-place starting position would not deter him from going for it again on Sunday morning.  Although he was hampered by three incidents throughout the duration of the 20-lap race requiring many laps to be completed under the Pace Car, d’Orlando made quick work to move forward on the heels of the top three, where he would once again cross the finish line for another fourth-place result.  These solid results were a nice recovery after a disappointing qualifying and he captured valuable championship points, leaving St. Pete in third place in the Drivers’ Championship.

“I knew going into the races that we had the car and ability to move forward, and our goal was to just get the best result we could depending on how things played out on track. It’s difficult to pass here and the races almost always show at least one incident during a race. I was lucky to bring it home in Race 1 – there were parts flying everywhere right in front of me when the front runners hit. But I’m happy we were able to maintain some solid points despite qualifying as I made my way back up to the front in both races.”

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship returns to racing action on April 29 – May 1 for Rounds 3 and 4 of the series. As always, he will be the support series to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. This event at Barber will be additionally special for Michael d’Orlando as it will be the first time, and the only time on the 2022 calendar, that he will compete on the same weekend at the same track with his brother, Nicholas, who begins his pursuit of a USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires championship this year.

d'Orlando Enterprises would like to welcome their partners for the 2022 season and extend their sincere appreciation for their support of Michael and Nicholas d'Orlando. Special thanks to returning partners at DB Collaborative, Focused Project Management, Rising Star Racing, MotorMedia USA, Pierpont Mechanical, MG Engineering, AJF Consulting, Dino Energy Drink and UFC Gym - Mamaroneck NY. We are also excited to welcome new partners for 2022 with AME Inc and Celtic General Contractors. It was our pleasure to represent Paving The Way Foundation for the St. Petersburg event, to promote awareness and prevention programs to end child trafficking. d'Orlando Enterprises will continue to work with partners to launch their latest venture, a philanthropic mission, Hammer Down For Hope.

Be sure to follow Michael d'Orlando on social media for all the latest information on Instagram (dorlandoracing, michaeldorlandoofficial), Facebook (Michael d'Orlando Racing) and Twitter (dorlandoracing and michaeldOrland1).

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