PORTLAND, Ore. – Kyle Kirkwood and RP Motorsport USA are simply untouchable right now.
Sunday at the 1.964-mile Portland Int’l Raceway road course, Kirkwood, mirrored the picture perfect weather conditions with another exemplary performance.
His weekend sweep of the Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix ensured a sixth consecutive victory and turned a nine-point deficit prior to the weekend into a healthy 20-point lead in his quest for a second consecutive Road to Indy championship.
Kirkwood also dominated last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship by winning 12 of the 14 races.
Sting Ray Robb finished a distant second, but still comfortably clear of Juncos Racing teammate – and Kirkwood’s nearest title rival – Rasmus Lindh.
After qualifying on pole Saturday, for the fifth time this season, Kirkwood leapt immediately into the lead and soon began to edge away from Robb, whose career-first pole yesterday had been nullified by a first corner incident. Robb made it cleanly through the opening complex of corners this time but had no answer to Kirkwood’s dominating speed.
The gap stretched out to two seconds inside the first five laps and continued to rise before Kirkwood crossed the finish line with an eventual margin of 7.5856 seconds.
“It was really tough starting up front with Sting Ray and Rasmus; I knew the start would mean a lot,” Kirkwood said. “I caught them off guard enough to get away on the first lap and created enough of a gap that they couldn’t reach me. I set a succession of fast laps but when you’re that far out in front, you can’t help but think about what can go wrong and when the yellow is going to come. You have everything to lose. None of this would be possible without the RP Motorsports team. They’re the hardest working team out here.”
Parker Thompson managed to oust Lindh from third place on the opening lap but wasn’t able to prevent the Swedish teenager from redressing the balance next time around. The two cars continued to circulate in close company – and slipped farther and farther behind Robb – without Thompson ever looking likely to be able to make a pass for the final podium position.
Instead, Thompson had to keep a wary eye on his mirrors as Kirkwood’s teammate, Artem Petrov edged ever closer after finding a way past Singapore’s Danial Frost just before the midway point in the 30-lap race. The trio was separated by just more than a second at the checkered flag.