Rowe Seals his Status with Hard-Earned USF Pro 2000 Win

 Myles Rowe opened up a commanding early championship lead in USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires with three wins from the first four races of the season. The young man from Brooklyn, N.Y., was frustrated in his bid to add to that victory tally over the course of the next few events, but he put that behind him in emphatic style yesterday evening in the second and final race of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, which he led from start to finish for the Pabst Racing with Force Indy team.

 

Brazilian Kiko Porto bounced back from an incident earlier in the day to finish a close second for DEForce Racing, while Michael d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., capped a productive weekend for Turn 3 Motorsport by finishing third.

 

Results

 

Rowe set the tone for his success by snaring his second Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season during an intense qualifying session on Friday, which, remarkably, was concluded with the top seven drivers all recording a lap time within one tenth of a second.

 

The 30-lap race proved to be just as close. Rowe never put a foot wrong in the lead, but he was never able to gain any kind of breathing space over Porto, who remained seemingly glued to his gearbox after sneaking past d’Orlando on the fourth lap.

 

Porto, from Recife, Brazil, posted the fastest lap of the race, but even that wasn’t enough and he had to settle for second. The result represented an impressive comeback after being pushed off the track during the opening race, and allowed Porto to reclaim second place in the point standings.

 

The top four cars remained in extremely close formation from start to finish. D’Orlando once again displayed excellent pace while finishing third, which, allied to his second win of the season earlier in the day, enabled him to vault from 11th in the points table to sixth, only 18 points behind Porto, heading into the final seven races of the season.

 

Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing) ran in company with the leaders until slipping back just a little in the final few laps. He still finished fifth ahead of fellow Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Reece Ushijima (Jay Howard Driver Development), Louka St-Jean (Turn 3 Motorsport), from Lorraine, Quebec, Canada, Bijoy Garg (DEForce Racing), from Atherton, Calif., and Sweden’s Joel Granfors (Exclusive Autosport).

 

Ushijima atoned for his error earlier in the day by claiming the Tilton Hard Charger Award after working his way from 12th on the grid to sixth.

 

The winning team owner, Augie Pabst, capped an excellent day by earning a second PFC Award to the trophy he won also in USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires through the efforts of Simon Sikes.

 

Next on the docket for the USF Pro Championships is another double-header event, once again in conjunction with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, on the streets of Toronto, Ont., Canada, on July 15-16.

 

Provisional championship points after 11 of 18 rounds:

1. Myles Rowe, 251

2. Kiko Porto, 187

3. Joel Granfors, 185

4. Salvador de Alba, 173

5. Francesco Pizzi, 171

6. Michael d’Orlando, 169

7. Jace Denmark, 166

8. Jonathan Browne, 152

9. Jack William Miller, 147

10. Lirim Zendeli, 142

 

Myles Rowe (#99 Penske Entertainment-Pabst Racing with Force Indy Tatuus IP-22): “It wasn’t a great start to the morning in Race One so it was important for us to come back and fix up the points for the title fight down in Portland. This was a huge boost for the team. We can go into Toronto with huge momentum. It is great because all my family and friends are watching and it is great that they can cheer me on and see me do well like this. Kiko made it tough for me. This was one of the toughest races that I have had in the USF Pro Championships, but this is what we want because we are trying to step up to INDYCAR and this is the training ground to get there. I have learned all the skills I need to do what I need to do in INDYCAR.”

 

Kiko Porto (#12 Banco Daycoval/Petromega-DEForce Racing Tatuus IP-22): “After a very tough Race One, we just tried to maximize the points. Starting third, I finished the first lap in third but then Michael made a mistake in Turn One and I took advantage and passed. It is very difficult to pass at Mid-Ohio and if the guy in front doesn’t make a mistake, it is almost impossible. I think I was a little faster than Myles but he was driving perfectly with no mistakes. Michael put a lot of pressure on me some laps and I think I defended five or six times under braking in Turn Four. It was a good race, especially to have the points back.”

 

Michael d’Orlando (#1 USF Pro Championships/Focused Project Management-Turn 3 Motorsport Tatuus IP-22): “It was a tough race really. I made my way up to second in the first couple of laps, but it was pretty tough for me. I got close to Myles in Turn One and just didn’t have the power going up the hill so Kiko got by me there. It was a great battle. We fought hard the entire race and both Myles and Kiko were super quick. It made it really tough for me to get by, but it’s good points. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season. This was the breakthrough that we needed – a full race weekend with nothing (bad) happening.”

Adam Sinclair