All three levels of the highly acclaimed Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder are headed this weekend, July 11-13, to the cosmopolitan city of Toronto, Ont., Canada, as the supporting cast for the traditional and hugely popular NTT IndyCar Series headline event, the Honda Indy Toronto.
The Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products takes place on a challenging 1.786-mile, 11-turn street circuit centered upon Exhibition Place, just a few miles from downtown. The weekend will comprise Rounds 10 and 11 of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, plus the eighth and ninth races of the season for both the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the first rung on the ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. At least 13 different nations from five continents will be represented among the three championships.
Eves Back on the Winning Trail in USF2000
Braden Eves has taken this year’s USF2000 championship by storm. The 20-year-old former karting star from New Albany, Ohio, dipped a toe in the water last year by contesting the season finale at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway, then hit the ground running on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in March after joining the multiple and defending championship-winning Cape Motorsports team. Eves also swept the two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road circuit in May.
His winning streak came to an end on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval, where Australian Cameron Shields scored an impressive victory for Newman Wachs Racing, and he had to give best to another first-time winner, New Zealand’s Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing), in the first of two races at Road America, Wis., last month. But Eves bounced back to win the second race and now has a legitimate hope of trying to emulate – or even beat – Kirkwood’s record of 12 wins last year. Eves holds a handy 51-point advantage over McElrea with seven of this year’s 15 races in the books.
Born in Southern California to New Zealand parents and raised in Australia, where he won a Formula Ford 1600 Championship last year – and then went on to claim the Mazda USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout – McElrea also has impressed this year with Pabst Racing. He began the year with four consecutive podium finishes and followed up a well-deserved maiden victory at Road America in Race One with his first pole in Race Two.
Pabst teammate Colin Kaminsky, from Homer Glen, Ill., is still seeking his first win but his recent results, including pole positions at Lucas Oil Raceway and Road America, suggest it might be just around the corner.
Eves’ teammate, Floridian Darren Keane, has been seemingly a magnet for misfortune during the first half of the season. Nevertheless, he has confirmed his pace with a pole, three fastest race laps and a pair of second-place finishes.
After learning his craft in F4 the past two years both in England and Mexico, Manuel Sulaiman has shown good speed for DEForce Racing, finishing twice on the podium in the opening three races. The Mexican has been pushed hard since then by 14-year-old karting standout Jak Crawford, from Houston, Texas, who, despite his tender years (he was too young to compete in the opening races at St. Petersburg, Fla.), also has been building his experience in the NACAM F4 series, winning four times and currently lying second in the points table to Sulaiman.
Other contenders will include Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen, who represents the driver development team run by former USF2000 and Indy Lights champion Jay Howard; Brazilian second-generation racer Eduardo Barrichello (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports); Englishman Matt Round-Garrido (BN Racing); Zach Holden, from Greenfield, Ind., already a podium finisher this year who joins the Indianapolis-based Legacy Autosport team this weekend for the first time; and another pair of 14-year-olds, Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), from Puerto Rico, and Nolan Siegel (Newman Wachs Racing), from California.
Friday, July 12, will include both an early morning 30-minute practice session at 8:00 a.m. and qualifying for the first of two USF2000 races later in the day at 2:40 p.m. A second qualifying session will commence at 8:05 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Race One at 11:20 a.m. The green flag for Race Two on Sunday is set for 9:00 a.m.
Both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 will feature global live streaming of all sessions on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV, usf2000.com, indypro2000.com and indycar.com.