Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves won the first Indy Pro 2000 race in St. Petersburg, beating Jay Howard Driver Development’s Christian Rasmussen in a close-fought battle.
Eves started the 25-lap race from pole and was opening up a small gap in the early stages as Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea found himself under pressure from Eves’ team-mate Artem Petrov.
As the pair squabbled, reigning USF2000 champion Rasmussen was able to get by Petrov. He then pushed and worked his way past McElrea and started to make inroads into Eves’ 1.5-second lead.
As the race hit its halfway mark, the sole caution period occurred after Velocity Racing Development’s Hunter Yeany had an issue at turn 10.
Once green flag racing resumed shortly after, Rasmussen applied pressure on Eves and had a couple of significant looks – namely into the first and fourth turns – but was unable to find a way past.
Eves won the race by just 0.3519s ahead of Rasmussen, with McElrea and Petrov close behind.
Juncos Racing’s Manuel Sulaiman battled past team-mate Reece Gold to take fifth place, with RP Motorsport’s Enaam Ahmed finishing seventh.
JHDD’s Wyatt Brichacek, Colin Kaminsky (Pabst) and Kyffin Simpson (Juncos) completed the top 10.
Legacy Autosport’s Flinn Lazier came 11th, while Miller Vinatieri Autosport’s Jack William Miller ended up 12th after running well in the top 10 early on and taking fastest lap.
DEForce Racing’s Cameron Shields finished two laps down after not mking the start as a result of mechanical issues, and Abel Motorsports’ Jacob Abel met the chequered flag five laps down after clipping the walls early on.
After crashing in the first qualifying session of the weekend, Enzo Fittipaldi (RP/Andretti Autosport) did not take part in the second qualifying session or Saturday’s race due to the significant damage to his car as a result of the incident.
Race results (25 laps)
|1||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||29m59.5398s|
|3||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||+1.5804s|
|4||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||+1.9639s|
|5||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||+4.2843s|
|6||Reece Gold||Juncos Racing||+5.0066s|
|7||Enaam Ahmed||RP Motorsport||+5.5105s|
|9||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||+6.4447s|
|10||Kyffin Simpson||Juncos Racing||+10.2683s|
|11||Flinn Lazier||Legacy Autosport||+11.0718s|
|12||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsport||+11.3968s|
|13||James Roe Jr||Turn 3 Motorsport||+17.3617s|
|14||Cameron Shields||DEForce Racing||+2 laps|
|15||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||+7 laps|
|Ret||Hunter Yeany||Velocity Racing Development|
|DNQ||Enzo Fittipaldi||RP Motorsport/Andretti Autosport|
|Fastest lap: Miller, 1m09.1534s