Home Road to IndyIndy Pro 2000 Braden Eves takes Indy Pro 2000 pole on comeback from injury

Braden Eves takes Indy Pro 2000 pole on comeback from injury

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography / Road to Indy

Braden Eves headed an Exclusive Autosport one-two in the first Indy Pro 2000 qualifying of 2021 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Eves returns to the series after breaking his neck in a crash while racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the middle of last year. It is his third pole in the championship, having taken two at Mid-Ohio in 2020 before his injury.

He left it until the final moments of the 20-minute qualifying session at Barber to go the top of the timesheet, setting a 1m16.1542s that overhauled team-mate Artem Petrov by less than a tenth of a second.

Petrov spent much of the session towards the top of the times in his first race weekend with Exclusive, before being pipped by his team-mate in the final moments.

Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea was third quickest, ahead of top rookie Wyatt Brichacek driving for Jay Howard Driver Development.

Juncos Racing’s Manuel Sulaiman was at the top early on but slipped back to fifth, ahead of the sole DEForce Racing entry driven by Cameron Shields.

JHDD’s reigning USF2000 champion Christian Rasmussen will start seventh on his his debut, having gone off the circuit on his second run immediately after briefly going second quickest. He completed just six laps – less than anybody else.

Juncos’s Reece Gold and Kyffin Simpson and Abel Motorsports’ Jacob Abel will round out the top 10.

FIA Formula 3 Championship convert Enzo Fittipaldi, co-run by Andretti Autosport and RP Motorsport, qualified 11th, and Velocity Racing Development’s reigning United States Formula 4 champion Hunter Yeany will start from 15th.

The three drivers who took part in Friday’s practice session did not seem to benefit from running in it – Jack William Miller was 12th, while RP’s Enaam Ahmed was 14th and Flinn Lazier was last and only completed eight laps.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1m16.1542s 12
2 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport 1m16.2289s +0.0747s 12
3 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing 1m16.2623s +0.1081s 14
4 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development 1m16.3044s +0.1502s 11
5 Manuel Sulaiman Juncos Racing 1m16.3947s +0.2405s 12
6 Cameron Shields DEForce Racing 1m16.4683s +0.3141s 12
7 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development 1m16.5905s +0.4363s 6
8 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 1m16.6166s +0.4624s 11
9 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing 1m16.6638s +0.5095s 11
10 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1m16.7249s +0.5707s 13
11 Enzo Fittipaldi RP Motorsport/Andretti Autosport 1m16.7311s +0.5769s 12
12 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports 1m16.7936s +0.6394s 12
13 Colin Kaminsky Pabst Racing 1m16.8366s +0.6824s 14
14 Enaam Ahmed RP Motorsport 1m16.8731s +0.7189s 13
15 Hunter Yeany Velocity Racing Development 1m17.2187s +1.0645s 12
16 James Roe Jr Turn 3 Motorsport 1m17.3279s +1.1737s 9
17 Flinn Lazier Legacy Autosport 1m18.4699s +2.3157s 8