Joel Granfors claimed a remarkable maiden USF Pro 2000 victory on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, coming from 18th on the grid to win.
Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe started on pole courtesy of setting the fastest lap in race one, and made a great start while behind him Kiko Porto and Lirim Zendeli made contact and Zendeli fell to the back of the pack as he went off track.
But then Rowe spun off as he hit damp grass at turn seven and then spun, with Michael d’Orlando and Francesco Pizzi then left fighting for the lead.
A caution period began on lap three, at which point Reece Ushijima had made it into third from 10th and Granfors was already in the top 10. Jackson Lee stopping on track meant the caution period was extended to the end of lap six, which proved chaotic.
Several drivers started accelerating out of the final corner while Pizzi was still maintaining the pace of the caution period, and Salvador de Alba overtook seven cars to be leader before the retart lap had even begun. Jack William Miller lost his front wing as he made contact with someone, and there several three-wide moments before the drivers safely reached turn one.
Granfors was fourth as they crossed the line and then second exiting turn one, with Jonathan Browne also legally making up several spots to be third. A big crash at the turns 5/6 chicane meant another caution period began shortly after, and the next restart took place on lap 11.
De Alba immediately lost out to Granfors, while Jace Denmark passed Browne for third. Rowe had climbed from 15th to eight at the first restart, and this time lost a spot but had the pace to move up the order.
Contact between Ushijima and d’Orlando helped Rowe past the latter, then he passed Christian Weir while Granfors established a lead up front. In the second half of the race that grew to 3.1502s over de Alba, while Rowe recovered to fifth to remarkably extend his points lead.
After investigations, nobody was found guilty of launching early at the start or restart and the final race result was published several hours later with de Alba in second.
“It’s great. Started P18 after a crash in race one which put us back in the back, and I was able to do a really good start,” said Granfors post-race.
“I think I gained eight positions in the first two laps, and then the safety car came out. On the restart there was also a bit of confusion and I think I went from P10 to P2 just going into turn one. And then me and Salvador on the last restart, I managed to do him on the outside. So I mean it’s just been great. It’s a dream come true.”
Pizzi fell down the order and finished seventh, just ahead of Jordan Missig, with Ushijima one spot further behind after spending many laps pressuring Pizzi for position.
In total only 13 of the 20 cars finished on the lead lap, with ‘dOrlando a thrice-lapped 14th and the last of the finishers.
Race result (25 laps)
|1||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||42m42.1615s|
|2||Salvador de Alba||Exclusive Autosport||+3.1502s|
|3||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||+6.5745s|
|4||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||+7.3748s|
|5||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||+10.9424s|
|6||Christian Weir||TJ Speed||+13.3787s|
|7||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed||+16.3270s|
|8||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||+16.7361s|
|10||Lirim Zendeli||TJ Speed||+19.2654s|
|11||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||+19.5356s|
|12||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||+21.4450s|
|13||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||+25.2186s|
|14||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||+3 laps|
|Ret||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports|
|Ret||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport|
|Ret||Jackson Lee||Turn 3 Motorsport|
|Ret||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport|
|Ret||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing!|
|Fastest lap: Rowe, 1m22.5433s