Eves is Perfect in Indy Pro 2000 at Home Track

 Local favorite Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, vaulted from sixth in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points table to second yesterday afternoon following a finely judged victory for Exclusive Autosport at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Championship leader Danial Frost, from Singapore, maintained his points lead with a strong second-place finish for Turn 3 Motorsport, while popular Canadian Parker Thompson bounced back from a dismal opening weekend earlier this month at Road America to finish close behind in third for DEForce Racing.

The Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders got off to a hot start this morning with the top eight cars in qualifying separated by a hair over a half-second. Eves, who won last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, along with a scholarship to ensure graduation onto the next step of the acclaimed Road to Indy ladder, emerged as top dog to scoop his first Cooper Tires Pole Award by a scant 0.0394 of a second over Frost. Payette, Idaho’s Sting Ray Robb qualified third for Juncos Racing with Thompson in fourth.

After the first attempt at a start was waved off because the full 17-car field wasn’t properly aligned, Eves timed his getaway perfectly at the second time of asking to lead Frost into the first corner. It seemed as though Frost’s car reached its optimum performance a little earlier than Eves, but the local man clung onto his lead and gradually increased his pace as the top two began to edge clear of Thompson, who had found a way past Robb at the start.

There seemed to be nothing to choose between the two leaders. Eves, though, made not the hint of a mistake even with Frost remaining hot on his heels.

There was a brief respite for Eves when the caution flags flew at half-distance following a spin for top-10 runner Moises de la Vara (DEForce Racing) at Turn Six. Frost hoped the restart might allow an opportunity for him to make a move for the lead. But again Eves was up to the challenge, and even though his lead was always tenuous, he held on to take his first Indy Pro 2000 victory by just 0.3024 of a second.

Eves’ performance also ensured a first PFC Award for Michael Duncalfe as the winning car owner.

Frost was content to finish second, realizing the importance of the season-long championship which offers a scholarship valued at over $600,000 to ensure graduation onto the top step of the Road to Indy ladder in a rejuvenated Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires next year.

Thompson, too, was delighted with third, especially with young Mexican teammate Manuel Sulaiman chasing him home just 1.8 seconds in arrears.

Road America winner Artem Petrov (Juncos Racing), from Saint Petersburg, Russia, finished fifth ahead of Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill, who fought off race-long challenges from Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport), New Zealander Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) and Jacob Loomis (BNRacing with Team Benik), from Corinth, Texas. After starting 15th, Loomis’ ninth-place effort earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award.

A disappointed Robb rounded out the top 10 following an off-track excursion at the exit of the Keyhole.

A separate qualifying session tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. will set the starting lineup for the next 25-lap race in the first-ever midweek standalone triple-header which will start at 12:30 p.m. The grid for Round Five, set to start at 4:45 p.m., will be determined according to each driver’s fastest race lap in Round Four.

Adam Sinclair