Home Featured Myles Rowe makes history by winning the USF Pro 2000 title

Myles Rowe makes history by winning the USF Pro 2000 title

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Myles Rowe made history in the second USF Pro 2000 race at Portland by becoming the first African-American champion of a single-seater series.

The Pabst Racing driver wrapped up the title with a race to spare by finishing third behind Michael d’Orlando and Nikita Johnson.

The grid featured two fewer cars than the previous day, as Nicholas Monteiro could not make the start and Ricardo Escotto’s penalty points tally meant he was not allowed to.

D’Orlando took pole, and on the opening lap the lead battle was three-wide on the run down to turn one. To maintain his advantage, d’Orlando cut the inside kerb entirely – effectively cutting the corner – while Lirim Zendeli jumped from sixth to second. Rowe kept his third place by passing Johnson, but on lap two Johnson got back past.

Johnson repeatedly set new fastest laps in the first third of the race, but after the top two had created a gap on lap two it meant he did not actually get close to them until lap 10 of 30. But a lap later the gaps between the top three were then at their largest, and continued to grow until lap 14 when Zendeli made a mistake by getting defensive as it actually cost him places to Johnson and Rowe.

At halfway distance there was a gap of 2.949 seconds between d’Orlando and Johnson, with Rowe a further 1.501s back.

D’Orlando briefly built his lead further, before Johnson – who had competed in the USF2000 race immediately before the USFP2000 one – started to close in. It was under two seconds going into the race’s final third, and down to 0.8915s with two laps to go.

Johnson could not get close enough to challenge for the win though, despite d’Orlando’s car being “a little hard on the tyres” at that point, while Rowe also reduced the gap and finished 2.2758s behind the winner. He then did donuts at the first chicane to celebrate his title success, and was congratulated afterwards in the pitlane by mentor Will Power.

Kiko Porto pressured Zendeli late on and finished fifth, securing him second in the standings.

Salvador de Alva qualified ninth, lost two places on lap 11 then fell to 17th on lap four. He showed strong pace to recover to 11th. Four-time race-winner D’Orlando is now just behind him in the fight for third in the standings.

Race result (30 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Michael d’Orlando Turn 3 Motorsport 35m12.7136s
2 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development +0.2529s
3 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing +2.2758s
4 Lirim Zendeli TJ Speed +7.3161s
5 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing +7.8438s
6 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing +8.6828s
7 Bijoy Garg DEForce Racing +10.5367s
8 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports +11.8868s
9 Jonathan Browne Turn 3 Motorsport +15.2052s
10 Francesco Pizzi TJ Speed +15.7746s
11 Salvador de Alba Exclusive Autosport +17.4300s
12 Danny Dyszelski Turn 3 Motorsport +20.1891s
13 Jordan Missig Pabst Racing +22.6220s
14 Louka St.-Jean Turn 3 Motorsport +29.6360s
15 Lindsay Brewer Exclusive Autosport +38.2532s
Ret Avery Towns Exclusive Autosport
Ret Frankie Mossman JHDD
DNS Nicholas Monteiro TJ Speed
DNS Ricardo Escotto JHDD
Fastest lap: Johnson, 1m09.8015s

Championship standings
Rowe 380   2 Porto 323   3 de Alba 270   4 d’Orlando 268   5 Zendeli 255   6 Pizzi 243   7 Denmark 233   8 Joel Granfors 208   9 Browne 208   10 Miller 205