Road America win holds points lead for Cape Motorsports
 June 13, 2022| 
  • Team News
Cape RoadAm 2022 Recap

D’Orlando captures a win in the Saturday doubleheader to maintain his championship title advantage

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It was a wild Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship doubleheader at Road America on Saturday and when the final checkered flag flew, Cape Motorsports had retained the championship points lead – albeit with more than its share of adventures along the way.

Drivers Michael d’Orlando (Hartsdale, NY), Nicky Hays (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Jagger Jones (Scottsdale, Ariz.), and Jackson Lee (Avon, Ind.) each faced their share of challenges through the three-day race weekend. D’Orlando scored both pole positions but joined his teammates in facing a difficult race one on Saturday morning. He came back in style during race two in the afternoon, fighting side-by-side with Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe (who had retaken the points lead after race one) to bring home the win.

“A typical Road America weekend: an awesome facility and some fantastic racing,” said Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Road America has a unique way of putting drivers into situations and positions requiring the correct decision to be made in a split second: this is a great tool to strengthen the driver's race craft. We all learned valuable lessons from race one and put them to good use in race two.

“A big thank you to the drivers and crew. As a team, everyone did a really good job over the weekend – and now a short time turn-around and we are off to Mid-Ohio!”

Thursday’s two promoter test sessions gave all four drivers a chance to get up to speed on Road America’s scenic 4.048-mile layout, with Hays seeing the track for the first time. In Friday morning’s official session, three of the team’s drivers – d’Orlando, Lee and Jones – posted times in the top 10. Lee’s time was especially notable considering he was hit from behind and spun in pit lane as the field headed out for the start of the session.

Qualifying for both races took place Friday afternoon, with d’Orlando capturing his second pole of the year in the race one session. Jones qualified fourth, with Lee 11th (after getting stuck in traffic) and Hays 17th, suffering from a toelink failure that limited his track time. In race two qualifying, teams and drivers bided their time early, putting on new Cooper Tire rubber for the second half of the session. Jones shot toward the front, setting the second-quickest time with six minutes remaining, then d’Orlando eclipsed his time to earn another pole position. Jones qualified sixth, with Hays 13th and Lee 14th.

Race one

D’Orlando got a great jump at the drop of the green but forward momentum by Billy Frazer, who started third, sent the Kiwi into the lead with Myles Rowe forcing his way past as well. Lee made a move at the start as well, showing great form as he made his way to eighth on lap one. Unfortunately, Jones was hit in turn three on lap one, sent off track and to the back of the pack, while Hays held his ground in 11th.

A full course caution halted the action on lap three, as two cars came together in turn 11. The field took the green – but not for long, as two cars got together in turn five to bring the yellow back out. But the green was out long enough for Hays to gain two positions, slotting in behind Lee in ninth. Back to green, d’Orlando and Jace Denmark went side-by-side into turn five, with Denmark forcing d’Orlando off into the dirt, costing d’Orlando third position. On lap 10, d’Orlando tried to make a move on Denmark but was forced into the dirt, spinning in turn five and going to the back of the field.

At the checkered flag, Lee had brought home his series-best finish in fifth, with Hays 12th, Jones 14th and d’Orlando 15th, with damage to both sides of his rear wing and both rear wheels. However, stewards later deemed that Lee had been involved in “avoidable contact” and assessed him a time penalty that sent him back to 16th position.

Race Two

Once again, d’Orlando was under attack from the drop of the green, with Rowe coming alongside in turn one. But this time, the New Yorker refused to budge, holding his line and running a heart-stopping side-by-side with Rowe through the first four corners before he cleared ahead. Further back in the field, Jones slid to seventh while Hays moved up to eighth. Unfortunately, Lee took the worst of the opening lap shuffling, falling back to 16th. Lap two saw a full course caution for a car off in turn nine, giving the field a chance to catch its collective breath and regroup.

When the green flag returned, d’Orlando was the proverbial sitting duck in the draft down the front straight, as Rowe pulled alongside and used the slingshot to get by, as Denmark came to the inside to make it three-wide into turn one. D’Orlando bided his time for two corners before setting up Rowe and making the pass to retake the lead. But with a car off in turn 10, the yellow came back out.

The race was ready to return to green when rain began to fall – light on the front straight but hard on the back, which would wreak havoc on the tire strategy. Race control threw the red flag and brought the field into pit lane to assess the situation. The field sat in pit lane for approximately 10 minutes before conditions improved. After two pace laps, the field took the green with three laps remaining – once again, Rowe pulled alongside d’Orlando underneath the start stand and once again, d’Orlando held his line and kept the position to bring home his second win of the year and retake the points lead by six over Rowe.

Next up for Cape Motorsports and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will be the tripleheader at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 30 to July 3. Tune into USF2000.com for all the action!

QUOTEBOARD

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

Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 14th

Race 2: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st

Championship standing:  1st

“I got hit at least three times in that first race. It was pretty rough; I wasn’t expecting that. I got hit in the turn five braking zone on the first lap. Late in the race, I made a lap move – but it was clean – and got spun out. There’s a lot to be learned from that race in terms of keeping the car on track, but you learn from mistakes. Race two was a good example of just putting things behind me, holding my line, keeping it clean and making sure the guys around me knew I was there. I felt like a bit of a fortress out there! Myles put a bunch of pressure on me but he raced me with respect. I couldn’t be happier with how I raced in that second event.”

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

Race 1: Start – 4th / Finish – 13th

Race 2: Start – 6th / Finish – 7th

Championship standing:  Fifth

“Road America is a really cool track but it’s really tricky. The pavement is fairly old (note: the track plans a complete re-pave this Fall) with a lot of really hard braking zones. It’s a fast track with a lot of tight corners, a bit of everything. We didn’t have the pace through practice but learned a bit for qualifying. Not great qualifying spots, that put us in the mess for the starts. I got cleaned off the track in the first race by a driver in his first race in the series and couldn’t make up much. In the second race, just not much green flag running. My lane didn’t go at the start, then every time I tried to make a pass, the yellow came out. We didn’t have a chance to really show much, so a weekend to move on from.”

NICKY HAYS – No. 5 Touchstone Helicopters/Molecule Sports

Race 1: Start – 17th / Finish – 11th

Race 2: Start – 13th / Finish – 9th

Championship standing:  11th

“This is a really cool place – the area and the racetrack. There are so many fans here, I’ve never seen that many people at a racetrack. It’s one of the coolest places to race in the US. Unfortunately, we had the issue in qualifying, not the team’s fault at all. The toelink just snapped in turn one, so I’m glad I didn’t end up in the wall. We marched forward in race one but faded a bit toward the end. Race two was better – starting closer to the front and fighting inside the top ten for a while. There wasn’t much green flag running so it felt like a bit of survival out there, but we’ll take the top ten. I need to put it all together – you can look at data and show how you can be in the top three, but I need to execute.”

JACKSON LEE – No. 2 IU Simon Cancer Center / Browning Chapman / Race for RP

Race 1: Start – 11th / Finish – 16th

Race 2: Start – 14th / Finish – 14th

Championship standing:  14th

“We made the best of what we had in qualifying, not much we could do there. The car felt really good, it was good to finally get a good result on track. The second race was typical Road America – a lot going on! I thought we managed it well but a few mistakes on the last lap ruined the race. The Cape boys did a great job helping me adapt, I appreciate all the hard work. On to Mid-Ohio."

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