INDIANAPOLIS – For the second straight day a rookie driver claimed his first-ever victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
This time it was 19-year-old Californian Adrian Starrantino who made the breakthrough, overtaking Brazilian Victor Franzoni on lap 11 and holding off a determined challenge from Frenchman Florian Latorre to claim what was also the first-ever USF2000 win for Jay Green’s JAY Motorsports team.
“I can’t even explain the feeling. We had a pretty rough weekend at Barber and it was looking rough here,” Starantino said. “I stayed up late last night just figuring out how to make the car work. We had some contact yesterday and came in and put on slick tires to try to get track position for today and it worked. I am so happy for the team and everyone. It’s crazy. My team was on the radio ‘four to go, three to go, two to go’ and there is nothing like the last lap. I think we put on a great show.
“I was feeling the pressure the last couple of corners but we got it done. I can’t explain the feeling of crossing the bricks and being the first one to the checkered flags. It was beautiful.”
Clear blue skies greeted the 22-car USF2000 field for this morning’s 18-lap race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, and despite starting in the fourth position it was Franzoni who headed the field into turn one for Afterburner Autosport. Starrantino, who started from the pole by virtue of posting the fastest lap of the weekend during yesterday’s wet/dry race, slotted into second place with fellow front row starter Clarke Toppe in third.
The race was interrupted briefly by a full-course caution after two laps to remove Austin Cindric’s Pabst Racing Van Diemen-Mazda from the gravel trap in Turn Four, after which Franzoni set a fast pace at the restart to maintain his advantage.
Starrantino, who moved to Indianapolis last year to pursue his racing career by working part-time for the Bryan Herta Autosport Verizon IndyCar Series team, stayed glued to Franzoni’s rear wing until, on lap 11, he poked his car’s nose inside his rival to take over the lead. The Brazilian tried to regain the place later in the lap at Turn 10, only to slide wide and allow Latorre to move into second.
For the remainder of the race, Latorre set a series of fast laps as he gradually tracked down Starrantino, but the American made not the hint of an error and took the checkered flag a scant 0.3394 second in front of his rival.
Franzoni, hindered by locking rear brakes, narrowly held onto third in the face of a stiff late challenge from Toppe who claimed his best finish to date in the regular season. Henrik Furuseth, whose pole-winning lap yesterday was disallowed following post-qualifying technical inspection, drove a sensational opening lap by rising from 20th on the grid to seventh. He eventually finished fifth, earning the Tilton Hard Charger Award in the process.
Adrian Starrantino, Florian Latorre, Victor Franzoni, Clark Toppe, Henrik Furuseth, Keyvan Andres Soori, Peter Portante, Will Owen, Jake Eidson, R.C. Enerson, Aaron Telitz, Daniel Burkett, Nathan Blok, Gustavo Myasava, Jeroen Slaghekke, Tim Hollowell, Juan Maldonado, Andrew List, Nico Jamin, Colton Herta, Austin Cindric, Santiago Lozano.