Home News D’Orlando wins in USFP2000 after rain causes late red flags at Mid-Ohio

D’Orlando wins in USFP2000 after rain causes late red flags at Mid-Ohio

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Michael d’Orlando held off Jace Denmark in a two-lap dash to the flag in a shortened first USF Pro 2000 race at Mid-Ohio. 

Rain late in the race neccessitated red flags as drivers were forced to pit for wet-weather tyres. However, the track was still largely dry when racing resumed. By this point, the race was reduced to a time limit, leaving just a handful of laps once the track went green. 

D’Orlando, who had dominated prior, held off Denmark for his second victory of 2023. 

Racing had not long gotten under way when the first caution period occurred. Contact between Kiko Porto and Salvador de Alba set Porto wide. As he returned to the track, a number of drivers were caught out. Porto and Jordan Missig suffered too much damage to continue, while Franesco Pizzi and Jonathan Browne were able to continue at the back of the field. 

De Alba had held onto second and was close behind d’Orlando as the field approached the restart. However, he was then called into the pits with a drive-through penalty. As he peeled away, d’Orlando had a good gap to Denmark in second before racing even resumed. 

The Turn 3 Motorsport driver continued to pull away and led by almost two seconds when the pace car appeared again, this time as Reece Ushijima’s car was cleared. During the caution period, rain started to fall on the back straight and race control decided to bring everybody to the pits. 

When racing eventually got back underway, Denmark stayed close to d’Orlando at first, but didn’t have the pace to match him. In just two laps, d’Orlando built a gap of 1.5096 seconds. 

Jack William Miller had avoided the drama early in the race to climb up to fourth after the first caution period. He picked off Ushijima on the restart, then spent the middle of the race defending a train of cars. Ushijima was joined by Joel Granfors and Bijoy Garg in the battle for third. 

After the race stoppage, Miller was closer to Denmark than Denmark was to d’Orlando, but still had Granfors close behind. There was no opportunity to make a move and he had to settle for third. Granfors in fourth was the only driver inside the top four in the championship to finish in the top 10. 

Points leader Myles Rowe dropped backwards in the firsts laps and struggled to find a way forward. He managed to climb up to sixth before the red flag, but fell backwards in the final laps and finished 11th, behind Salvador de Alba. 

After his early incident, Pizzi struggled to make up positions, then dropped further back as he came into the pits for wet tyres a lap before the race was stopped. He finished 15th. 

In contrast, Garg took his first top 10 finish as he came home fifth ahead of Lirim Zendelli and Louka St-Jean.

Race result (21 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Michael d’Orlando Turn 3 Motorsport 50m33.9025s
2 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing +1.5096s
3 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports +1.9134s
4 Joel Granfors Exclusive Autosport +2.2306s
5 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing +5.1148s
6 Lirim Zendeli TJ Speed +6.6270s
7 Louka St.-Jean Turn 3 Motorsport +9.0257s
8 Christian Weir TJ Speed +9.2412s
9 Ricardo Escotto JHDD +9.7891s
10 Salvador de Alba Exclusive Autosport +10.2385s
11 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing +10.6343s
12 Nicholas Monteiro NeoTech Motorsport +12.8183s
13 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Exclusive Autosport +13.4017s
14 Jackson Lee Turn 3 Motorsport +27.1718s
15 Francesco Pizzi TJ Speed +1 lap
16 Lindsay Brewer Exclusive Autosport +1 lap
NC Jonathan Browne Turn 3 Motorsport +3 laps
18 Reece Ushijima JHDD +3 laps
Ret Kiko Porto DEForce Racing
Ret Jordan Missig Pabst Racing
Fastest lap: de Alba, 1m18.7462s

Championship standings
Rowe 219   2 Granfors 173   3 Pizzi 167   4 Porto 161   5 de Alba 154   6 Denmark 149   7 d’Orlando 147   8 Browne 146   9 Miller 138   10 Zendeli 131