Salvador de Alba takes his first win of the 2023 USF Pro 2000 season with a dominant victory in the Freedom 90.
The oval race ended behind the pace car after a spin for Christian Weir with 10 laps to go, but it had been green flag running up until that point.
There was drama before the race even began. A fast lap behind the pace car meant the field hadn’t entirely come together at the end of the green flag lap, resulting in a second attempt at the start being required. Poleman Jack William Miller slowed to begin the second pace lap and second-placed Joel Granfors made contact with the back of him, though it didn’t seem to have an impact on either driver’s race.
When racing actually began, it was de Alba who made the best start, jumping into the lead while Francesco Pizzi moved past Granfors to take third.
De Alba was able to break slightly away from those behind him, helped by traffic that kept Miller and Pizzi in battle.
The leader spent the remainder of the race managing his gap. It remained within a second, but nobody could get close enough to pressure de Alba into a mistake. There was no sign that this would change in the final laps before a spin for Weir brought out the yellow flags and ended the race.
Behind, Pizzi attempted to find a way past Miller as they made their way through traffic. That opened the door for Granfors to come back into third. It wasn’t long before Granfors had made his way past Miller to take second too, and he pulled away from the poleman but could not close the gap to de Alba.
Granfors came home second, which would be enough to move him up to second in the championship standings.
Pizzi continued to pressure Miller for what was now third. Despite managing to get alongside, he didn’t quite have enough to stay ahead and Miller claimed his first podium of the season.
Championship leader Myles Rowe had a quiet race, retaining fifth while Kiko Porto struggled to make positions from his starting position of 11th and ended up finishing 10th.
While Weir was the only driver to bring out the caution, he wasn’t the only one to run into trouble. Jace Denmark had a brush with the wall early in the race and was forced to pit with suspected damage to his suspension. He had a lengthy stay there and was classified 15 laps down
Reece Ushijima had a brush with the wall late in the race too, but he was able to continue and finished 11th.
After topping the final practice session of the weekend, Michael d’Orlando could only finish sixth ahead of Jonathan Browne. Jordan Missig enjoyed a strong charge up through the field to finish eighth after starting from the very back of the grid. Yuven Sundaramoorthy and Porto completed the top 10.
Race result (90 laps)
|1||Salvador de Alba||Exclusive Autosport||37m52.852s|
|2||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||+0.517s|
|3||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||+1.047s|
|4||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed||+1.947s|
|5||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||+4.311s|
|6||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||+8.747s|
|7||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||+9.250s|
|8||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||+9.897s|
|9||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||+10.197s|
|10||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||+12.347s|
|11||Reece Ushijima||JHDD||+1 lap|
|12||Jackson Lee||Turn 3 Motorsport||+1 lap|
|13||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport||+1 lap|
|14||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||+1 lap|
|15||Ricardo Escotto||JHDD||+2 laps|
|16||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport||+3 laps|
|Ret||Christian Weir||TJ Speed|
|Ret||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing|
|Fastest lap: de Alba, 21.077s