By Road to Indy
BROWNSBURG, Ind. – An exciting pair of qualifying sessions took place this evening at Lucas Oil Raceway to set the starting grids for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races to be held during an action-packed evening tomorrow at the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic – Race Before the 500.
Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport), from Singapore, claimed pole position for tomorrow’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90, Round Five of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, while Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., earned the top spot for the Cooper Tires Freedom 75, Round Five of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Frost, 17, had been the pacesetter ever since the Indy Pro 2000 teams took part in a one-day test last week at the challenging and super-fast high-banked 0.686-mile oval situated just a few miles west of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A substantial advantage over the field was narrowed considerably when the drivers returned to the track this afternoon for one final 30-minute practice session, but Frost laid down two excellent laps in qualifying, averaging 120.474 mph, to reaffirm himself as the man to beat tomorrow evening.
“I had no idea I’d get my first pole on an oval,” said Frost, who has a trio of third-place finishes to his credit but a best starting position of only fourth prior to this week. “Being dominant in the test, then practice and now qualifying to get pole, this is so exciting for me. I can’t thank the team enough for putting together a quick car for me.
“There is a lot of pressure when you’re qualifying on an oval because everyone is watching you and it’s just those two laps, so if you mess it up you’re done. You have to be so precise. When my team told me I was P1, I was screaming, but I had to hold it in because there were still other cars to go out. Once it was over, then we could celebrate. We’ve done well tonight, but tomorrow is the big thing. We have everything where we want it and it won’t be easy, but we have to be consistent and bring it home in one piece – and in front!”
Fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood, from Jupiter, Fla., made significant progress between practice and qualifying to post the second fastest speed for RP Motorsport USA with a two-lap average of 118.936 mph. Kirkwood knows what it takes to win at Lucas Oil Raceway having done just that – from the pole position – en route to the USF2000 championship crown last year.
This year’s two point leaders, Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports), from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, who finished second in the championship last year, and Swedish rookie Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), will share row two of the grid, separated by just 0.0041 of a second over their two-lap runs.
Another especially noteworthy performance in qualifying was posted by veteran Charles Finelli, a lawyer by profession, from Locust Valley, N.Y., who will start a career-high eighth for FatBoy Racing!
Lap speeds were much closer in the USF2000 ranks, from which Kaminsky impressively overcame a mishap during the afternoon, when he lost control and crashed in Turn One, to also claim his first-ever pole position.
“I got loose in Turn One, corrected too fast and it snapped,” recounted Kaminsky. “By the time I had finished looking at the video, the team had everything fixed and had gotten it back on the setup pad. I got my helmet on and we rolled. It was a little too close of a call but it worked. It shook me up a little bit, having a wreck like that, but it’s down to inexperience on the ovals. But when I went out for qualifying, it felt great. The Pabst team did such a great job to put it together and make me comfortable.
“I knew I would be near the top, given our pace in the test last week and earlier today, so I was pretty excited when they told me I was P1! Then we had to wait for the rest of the cars to go, so now I know a little bit of what it’s like at Indy. But it was such a great feeling, and we’re going to keep it up tomorrow – we’re going to take it from the front, do the best job we can and win!”
Kaminsky emerged narrowly ahead of Australian rookie Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing), who also secured his first front row starting position.
Reece Gold, just 14 years old from Dorado, Puerto Rico, also impressed by qualifying third fastest for Cape Motorsports, which has a rich history of success at Lucas Oil Raceway, including guiding Kirkwood to victory in 2018. More experienced teammates Darren Keane, from Boca Raton, Fla., and Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, the championship leader who is unbeaten on four races this season, will start sixth and 12th.
Mexican Manuel Cabrera, who had been fastest in the pre-event test last week but ended the day early after a crash, also rebounded well to qualify fourth for Exclusive Autosport.
The USF2000 and Indy Pro competitors will have one more 20-minute practice session apiece tomorrow afternoon, at 4:05 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT, respectively. The 75-lap Cooper Tires Freedom 75 USF2000 race then will take the green flag at 6:45 p.m., followed at 7:50 p.m. by the 90-lap Cooper Tires Freedom 90 for Indy Pro 2000. Live streaming will be available at RoadToIndy.TV, the Road to Indy TV App and the series respective websites at usf2000.com and indypro2000.com.