Home Featured De Alba takes controlling oval win in USF Pro 2000’s Freedom 90 race

De Alba takes controlling oval win in USF Pro 2000’s Freedom 90 race

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

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)
Pos Driver Team Time
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

Championship standings
1 Rowe 165   2 Granfors 133   3 Pizzi 128   4 de Alba 124   5 Porto 117   6 Ushijima 101   7 Miller 101   8 Browne 101   9 Denmark 96   10 Lirim Zendeli 83