Home News Exclusive Autosport’s Evan Cooley claims double pole on USF2000 debut

Exclusive Autosport’s Evan Cooley claims double pole on USF2000 debut

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Exclusive Autosport’s Evan Cooley took pole for his USF2000 debut in a red flagged qualifying session on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

Drivers were given a half-hour window of running, with the chequered flag waving after 20 minutes of green flag action if that occurred first. There was no drama at all through the first 18 minutes of qualifying, but then DEForce Racing’s Maxwell Jamieson had a high-speed spin en route to turn five after putting a wheel on the grass exiting turn four.

That led to red flags being waved and the session clock being stopped with 109 seconds to go. While that was unlikely to be enough time for anyone to start a flying lap before the chequered flag waved, all but Cooley and Jay Howard Driver Development’s G3 Arygros – another debutant stepping up from USF Juniors – headed back out and then immediately returned to the pits since they ran out of time.

Prior to that there had been plenty of drivers contending for pole. Pabst Racing’s Mac Garcia and Velocity Racing Development’s Max Taylor led the way when they set their second flying laps, both setting 1m28.44s, as Cooley left it later than his rivals to head out and reaped the benefits as a 1m28.0319s put him on top.

JHDD’s Michael Costello was next to lead the way as the third laps came in, lowering the pace to 1m27.2404s. VRD’s Nico Christodoulou and Taylor set 1m27.3s laps to go second and third fastest, with three others setting 1m27.4s.

The closeness contiued, and Pabst’s Sam Corry went fastest with a 1m27.1877s on his fourth lap. JHDD’s Evagotas Papasavvas and Taylor then broke into the 1m26s, and when Exlusive duo Joey Brienza and Cooley crossed the line later they slotted into third and fourth.

Garcia got within 0.135s of Papasavvas on his next lap, and moments later Taylor went top with a 1m26.5317s. But again, having clear air by running later benefited Cooley and he went fastest by 0.012 seconds while team-mate Brienza impoved in fourth.

After the 10-minute mark many drivers ended their first runs, swapping their tyres with the plan of going faster on their second set. But there were fewer improvements on the second runs although Cooley did lower the pace to 1m26.3485s and team-mate Thomas Schrage initially went fourth fastest.

With just over six minutes to go Schrage got within 0.0849s of Cooley to put himself on the race one front row and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development’s Elliot Cox climbed to fourth, then the order was basically set and it was instead the race two grid being impacted as drivers improved on their second-best laptimes.

Christodoulou went into the final five minutes in 12th, but successive improvements brought him up to ninth and then fifth, with another quick lap just before the red flags putting him fifth for race two.

Cooley’s second-best lap earned him race two pole by 0.1218s over Cox, with Taylor 0.1631s behind and Schrage and Christodoulou split by just 0.0169s in fourth and fifth.

Qualifying round-up
Race 1 grid
1 Evan Cooley Exclusive Autosport 1m26.3485s
2 Thomas Schrage Exclusive Autosport +0.0849s
3 Max Taylor Velocity Racing Development +0.1832s
4 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development +0.2670s
5 Nico Christodoulou Velocity Racing Development +0.3002s
6 Evagoras Papasavvas JHDD +0.3916s
7 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport +0.4554s
8 Sam Corry Pabst Racing +0.4772s
9 Max Garcia Pabst Racing +0.4795s
10 Hudson Schwatz Pabst Racing +0.7951s

Race 2 grid
1 Cooley 1m26.5197s
2 Cox +0.1218s
3 Taylor +0.1631s
4 Schrage +0.2219s
5 Christodoulou +0.2388s
6 Garcia +0.3554s
7 Papasavvas +0.4088s
8 Corry +0.4343s
9 Brienza +0.4435s
10 Nicolas Giaffone DEForce Racing +0.7523s