LEXINGTON, Ohio – Christian Rasmussen swept all three races that comprised the USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders over the past two days at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Jay Howard Driver Development.
Added to his pair of wins at Road America earlier this month, Rasmussen now has won the opening five races of the season – a feat previously unmatched since the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship was reintroduced following a four-year hiatus in 2010.
Another piece of history was made this morning as, for the first time, a pair of 15-year-olds, Reece Gold and Nolan Siegel shared the podium in the opening race of the day. Gold also finished third in Thursday afternoon’s second race behind teammate Michael d’Orlando.
A busy day of action for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship teams and drivers began at 8 a.m. with a qualifying session to set the starting grid for the first of two 20-lap races. Once again Rasmussen was in control, snagging his third Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season. Gold and Siegel started second and third.
Rasmussen was untroubled throughout the first race, leading from start to finish and barely blinking an eye even when a hard-earned advantage of 2.5 seconds was nullified after 12 laps by a full-course caution due to a single-car incident at turn nine.
Gold was similarly untroubled in second, taking full advantage of the fact that Siegel was far more concerned about defending his third position than challenging for second.
Rookie Christian Brooks kept the pressure on Siegel during the early stages until he, too, began to focus his attentions on keeping determined Englishman Matt Round-Garrido at bay. At half distance, Brooks’ increasingly defensive tactics eventually caught the eye of the race stewards, who, during the caution period, instructed Brooks to cede the position.
Rasmussen again pulled away after the restart, finally taking the checkered flags 2.2147 seconds ahead of Gold. He in turn finished well clear of Siegel, who barely kept Round-Garrido in his mirrors. Yuven Sundaramoorthy also was in close contention.
Another intense battle immediately behind saw Kyle Dupell edge out Cape Motorsports teammate Josh Green for seventh. Both were chased by Australian Cameron Shields, d’Orlando and Wednesday’s second-place finisher Eduardo Barrichello, who struggled to an 11th-place finish for Pabst Racing.
After an early stoppage to retrieve two cars that had encountered problems before the start of race three, Rasmussen maintained his unbeaten streak with another flag-to-flag win this afternoon to continue his perfect season and earn car owner Jay Howard his fifth straight PFC Award.
Behind, all eyes were centered on the scrap for second between teammates Gold and d’Orlando, who muscled past soon after the restart and narrowly held onto his position throughout the 20-lap race. They were separated by less than a half-second at the finish line.
Brooks displayed his increasing confidence by holding onto the two Cape cars and once again finishing as the top rookie in fourth.
A little farther back in fifth, Jack William Miller finally translated his occasional strong pace into by far his best finish, fifth, for the Miller Vinatieri Motorsports team. Miller drove beautifully to fend off the attentions of Barrichello and Green, who worked his way purposefully from 11th on the grid.
Dupell finished eighth ahead of Sundaramoorthy, Bijoy Garg and Brazilian Kiko Porto.