TORONTO – It took some fine driving to keep his nose clean, but a day after a dominant win in the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda race of the streets of Toronto weekend, Parker Thompson used a more exciting route today to complete the doubleheader sweep on his home track.
Starting in the fourth position, Thompson stayed in contact with the leaders in the opening laps. Calamity struck when David Malukas (No. 79 BN Racing Mazda) tried to pass Alex Baron (No. 4 ArmsUp Motorsports) for the race lead on Lap 8. The two made contact at the exit of Turn 3, sending Baron spinning across the track and collecting Malukas and third-place Oliver Askew (No. 3 Cape Motorsports), eventually ending all three drivers’ day.
Thompson, in the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport Mazda, avoided the incident, assumed the lead and would not relinquish it. The sweep gives the Alberta native a hat trick since he won the second race of last year’s Toronto doubleheader and swept this year’s two races. The sweep also gave new team Exclusive Autosport its first wins in its maiden USF2000 season.
“You make your own luck,” said Thompson. “I knew something was going to go wrong there. They were just fighting so hard so early, so I kind of just eased off there. I knew we had a good car for the end. The Exclusive Autosport No. 90 again was on rails.”
Despite his 11th-place finish today, Askew retained the championship lead. Pabst Racing’s Rinus VeeKay finished second today and closed to within 18 points of Askew as the series heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a doubleheader weekend July 28-30.
With his sensational weekend, Thompson passed Kaylen Frederick for third in the USF2000 standings with just three races remaining. At 77 points behind Askew, Thompson remains a long shot for the series crown, but he will savor a weekend like this for a long time.
“Huge day!” exclaimed Thompson. “There’s not a harder-working group of people than Exclusive Autosport. We had a rough week at Iowa last week, but for us to bounce back with double victories is absolutely unbelievable.”
Kaiser evades chaos to complete Indy Lights sweep
It was a near-flawless weekend for Kyle Kaiser, whose pair of wins on the streets of Toronto stretched his Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship lead extensively with just four races remaining.
“This is exactly what we needed,” said Kaiser, the 21-year-old from Santa Clara, California, who quadrupled his lead to 52 points over Matheus Leist with the weekend sweep. “We came into this weekend saying we’ve got to win both.
“This morning, qualifying didn’t go exactly how we wanted, but we stayed positive, we knew we’d have a good race car, so we just kept at it. A little luck came our way; that happens in racing. I’ve been on the bad side of luck before, too. This day I was rewarded, luckily, but I can’t be any happier.”
A chaotic Race 2 today saw numerous drivers suffer issues, Kaiser kept his nose clean in the No. 18 Juncos Racing Mazda/Dallara IL-15 and capitalized. Starting from third, Kaiser dove to the inside of Santi Urrutia (No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing) and Nico Jamin (No. 27 Andretti Autosport) in Turn 1 at the start of the race to take second. The ensuing three-wide traffic jam stuffed Jamin into the wall, leaving Shelby Blackstock (No. 51 Belardi Auto Racing) nowhere to go. Blackstock launched over the back of Jamin’s car, while several others, including Leist (No. 26 Carlin), took damage.
All drivers involved in the incident walked away unharmed from the shunt, but Jamin, Blackstock and Neil Alberico (No. 22 Carlin) were all retired on the opening lap.
Pole sitter Colton Herta appeared set to finally get back to victory lane as he marched the No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Mazda well ahead of the field, but a mechanical failure on Lap 25 took the 17-year-old Californian out. A separate mechanical issue also parked Urrutia on Lap 11, his second DNF of the season. Kaiser won by 5.8649 seconds over Aaron Telitz (No. 9 Belardi Auto Racing).
The next round for Indy Lights will be another doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from July 28-30.