ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Parker Thompson and Abel Motorsports ensured a virtually perfect commencement to their fresh partnership Saturday on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
The gifted Canadian led from start to finish in Saturday’s second Indy Pro 2000 Championship race of the weekend, giving himself and Abel Motorsports a weekend sweep.
Thompson, who celebrated his 21st birthday just one week ago, backed up his victory in Friday’s opening round of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by posting the fastest time in qualifying earlier this morning. He then catapulted immediately into a lead he never looked likely to relinquish.
Kyle Kirkwood who won last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, bounced back from a disappointing result on Friday to finish second for RP Motorsport USA. Danial Frost overcame a two-position grid penalty to complete the podium for Exclusive Autosport.
After being jumped on the start yesterday, Thompson this time made an exemplary getaway to lead outside front row qualifier Kirkwood into turn one on the first of 30 laps. Behind, Frost made amends for being assessed a two-grid-positions penalty Saturday morning after failing to acknowledge the checkered flag at the end of qualifying by vaulting from sixth on the grid to third ahead of Juncos Racing teammates Sting Ray Robb and Rasmus Lindh. Moises de la Vara slotted into sixth for DEForce Racing ahead of Nikita Lastochkin.
Thompson turned a string of quick laps in the early stages to extend his advantage over Kirkwood to a hair under two seconds at the end of lap eight. The margin grew as high as three seconds with two-thirds of the race completed, whereupon Kirkwood found some extra pace and whittled the deficit to just 1.4334 seconds at the checkered flag. Kirkwood also snagged an additional championship point from under Thompson’s nose by posting the fastest race lap on the 29th and penultimate lap.
“It is unbelievable to sweep the weekend,” said Thompson. “All the credit goes to Abel Motorsports – coming for a brand-new team on the Road to Indy, racing in a completely new category, to take both wins, that is amazing. I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity. We went into St. Pete not thinking anything past this weekend, so hopefully you’ll see more of us this season.”
Frost couldn’t match the pace of the two leaders but still drove a fine race to secure his first Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium, despite constant pressure from the Juncos twins, who exchanged places on the fifth lap so that Lindh secured fourth place ahead of Robb.