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)
|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|
|DNS||Nicholas Monteiro||TJ Speed|
|Fastest lap: Johnson, 1m09.8015s