Mazda Road to Indy Heads to Road America
 June 19, 2018| 
  • Series News
USF RA 2018 Web

Double-Header Rounds on Deck for All Three Premier Development Series

PALMETTO, Fla. – Almost 50 drivers representing 15 different nationalities from around the globe will convene this week in rural Wisconsin, where all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder will feature a pair of races in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Kohler Grand Prix at the historic Road America facility in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

The challenging and undulating 4.014-mile road course marks the halfway point in the season for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, each year providing prizes and scholarships valued at over $3.5 million to enable talented young drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

There will be a poignant moment on Saturday when Indy Lights racer and reigning Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni paces the Pro Mazda race in his Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 in tribute to Illinois racer Jeff Green, who tragically lost his life during a vintage event last weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Green became both a close friend and supporter of the Brazilian during their time together at Juncos Racing last year in Pro Mazda. Team principal Ricardo Juncos will give the command to start engines.

Locally Based Pabst Team Set to Challenge in USF2000
Rookie Kyle Kirkwood and his Cape Motorsports team have already taken a stranglehold on this year’s USF2000 Championship but are sure to face stiff opposition this week from Oconomowoc, Wis.-based Pabst Racing. The local team has high hopes of emulating its form from 2017, when rookie Rinus VeeKay won both races, bringing eventual champion Oliver Askew’s sequence of five wins to a screeching halt.

All four Pabst cars, driven by Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., Brazilian Lucas Kohl, Guyana’s Calvin Ming and Sweden’s Rasmus Lindh, were fast in last week’s test, with Frederick leading the way with a lap comfortably inside Askew’s existing lap record.

“My teammates helped me to improve – we push each other to go quicker and that improves all of us,” said Frederick, 16, who finished fourth in last year’s championship and has bounced back from a difficult start to his sophomore season by finishing second in the most recent race on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval. “It’s an important race for us, since the team is from here. They were so successful here last year and that gives us even more information about the track and what to expect come race weekend.”

Championship leader Kirkwood, who was comfortably quickest on Day One of the test, remains confident of being able to maintain or even extend his championship advantage.

“We still have the same approach as always,” asserted Kirkwood, whose own streak of five consecutive top-five finishes, including three wins, has taken him to a commanding 61-point lead in the chase for a $325,000 Mazda Scholarship to advance to Pro Mazda in 2019. “I think this entire year we’ve been pretty risk-less. So I believe our current strategy is quite good... in any situation. Technically, we only have to maintain, but we will always strive for wins.”

Alex Baron, from Narbonne, France, who carries dual French and British citizenship, currently holds second in the points table for Swan-RJB Motorsports. His roller-coaster campaign has included two wins and two retirements.

The wide-open nature of this year’s USF2000 title-chase is perfectly exemplified by the fact that drivers from six different teams are represented among the top seven in the points table, with Mexico’s Jose Sierra, in third place for DEForce Racing, being pursued by Japanese-born Brazilian Igor Fraga (Exclusive Autosport), the Pabst pair of Lindh and Kohl, and Newman Wachs Racing’s Darren Keane.

Others to watch include Kory Enders of DEForce Racing, Julian Van der Watt of Team Pelfrey and Michael d’Orlando of Team Benik – all of whom posted fast times within the top 10 at the recent test.

Two new drivers will make their first appearances this weekend. Jacob Abel, from Louisville, Ky., will drive for his own family-run team, while Singapore native Danial Frost has joined Exclusive Autosport after shining in the South East Asia Formula 4 series.

The impressive 27-car field will kick off with a half-hour practice session at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, followed by two qualifying sessions later in the day at 12:45 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. The first of two races for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda will see the green flag at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, with the second race set for Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. All times are CDT.

Coverage can be found on a series of platforms including Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV App and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and the Xbox One Official App. Live streaming and live timing is available on the series’ website and indycar.com.

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