Frost, Shields Claim First Road to Indy Victories at Lucas Oil Raceway
BROWNSBURG, Ind. – This evening’s Dave Steele Carb Night Classic at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval featured a pair of exciting races for drivers on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder. Both included first-time winners as Singapore’s Danial Frost led from flag to flag for Exclusive Autosport in Round Five of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, while Australian Cameron Shields emerged victorious in Round Five of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship for Newman Wachs Racing.
Frost, 17, was in imperious form on the ultra-fast oval. He was comfortably fastest in last week’s prerace test, led the way in qualifying and, after fighting off an early challenge from last year’s dominant USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood, controlled the proceedings to score a thoroughly well-deserved victory in the Cooper Tires Freedom 90. He also took home the first PFC Award this season for Michael Duncalfe’s Exclusive Autosport team, which also triumphed at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2018.
Frost’s only serious challenge came following the race’s only full-course caution, which came after 51 laps when Nikita Lastochkin’s Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18 ground to a halt with a mechanical failure. Frost took the restart directly ahead of Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, who had found a way past Kirkwood in Turn One moments before the yellow, but didn’t take long to reestablish a clear advantage. His final margin of victory after 90 laps was 4.8048 seconds.
Championship leader Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing), from Gothenburg, Sweden, chased both his teammate, Robb, and Kirkwood virtually throughout the race before finally finding a chink in Kirkwood’s armor on the very last lap when he took advantage of an open-door opportunity on the high line into Turn One. Robb moved quickly alongside, then carried his momentum through Turn Two to edge ahead and hold off Kirkwood for third on the line.
Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports, from Louisville, Ky.), was the only unlapped finisher in fifth, while DEForce teammates Kory Enders, from Sugar Land, Texas, and Moises de la Vara, from Guadalajara, Mexico, finished in that order after a race-long scrap which also involved Phillippe Denes, from Carmel, Calif., who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting 12th on the grid.
Danial Frost (#68 Den-Jet/Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18): “I’m so grateful to get my first win, especially on the oval for the Cooper Tires Freedom 90. I’m so happy with what the team has accomplished. I worked hard to keep my focus toward the end but as soon as I saw the checkered flag I started to celebrate. A couple of guys really put some pressure on me but I stayed composed and did my own thing, and eventually we were able to break the draft. Once we got into traffic, I worked at catching the guys in front because, for me, it’s better if I have someone to chase. That’s what I did for the whole race. The team gave me such a great car, I’m so happy.”
Provisional points after five of 16 races:
1. Rasmus Lindh, 142
2. Danial Frost, 133
3. Sting Ray Robb, 121
4. Parker Thompson, 115
5. Kyle Kirkwood, 97
6. Nikita Lastochkin, 79
7. Jacob Abel, 77
8. Moises de la Vara, 74
9. Phillippe Denes, 68
10. Kory Enders, 66
Shields Dominates to Claim First USF2000 Win
Australian drivers have a long history of success in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, and Cameron Shields added to that legacy with a beautifully judged drive to victory in this evening’s Cooper Tires Freedom 75.
Shields, who hails from Toowoomba, Queensland, the same hometown as defending Indianapolis 500 champion Will Power, started second, took the lead by holding on around the outside at the start and proceeded to lead throughout the 75-lap race around the 0.686-mile oval. His first win also ensured a maiden PFC Award for Newman Wachs Racing.
Polesitter Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., couldn’t keep pace with Shields but was edging away from an intense battle for third between Mexico’s Manuel Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport) and Frenchman Alex Baron (Legacy Autosport) until the pair hauled up behind some lapped traffic shortly after the halfway mark.
On Lap 43, Baron made a move to the inside of Cabrera at the entrance to Turn One. Unfortunately, Cabrera found himself pinched in between Baron and, on the outside, the lapped Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-17 of Brazil’s Bruna Tomaselli, who herself was embroiled in a tense battle with the Jay Howard Driver Development pair of Christian Bogle, from Covington, La., and Englishman Matt Round-Garrido, plus Venezuelan Anthony Famularo (BN Racing).
In a flash, Cabrera’s car started to spin, taking both himself and Tomaselli into the wall to trigger the first of two full-course cautions.
A second interruption came just 10 laps after the restart, on Lap 61, when Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), from Carmel, Ind., spun and crashed out of seventh place between Turns Three and Four.
Each time, Shields was picture-perfect out front. The 18-year-old rookie held off the advances of Kaminsky, who instead came under increasing pressure from a charging Baron, who had started fifth. Baron finally made his move for second place into Turn One with just four laps remaining.
Fourteen-year-old Jak Crawford (DEForce Racing), from Houston, Texas, drove another impressive race to claim fourth ahead of championship leader Braden Eves (Cape Motorsports), who rose from 12th on the grid to fifth, and Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen, who picked up the Tilton Hard Charger Award for Jay Howard Driver Development after starting 15th.
Cameron Shields (#73 Dependable Sheds/HRX/Vision Sports Science-Newman Wachs Racing Tatuus USF-17): “That was absolutely incredible, I just can’t believe it. I’ve worked so hard to get here, and even to finish the year I have to work really hard to make that happen. It was a really, really tough race – my mental state changed quite a lot. I had such a big lead and, all of the sudden, the yellow comes out and everything changed. There was a bit of panic but I recouped and did a good job to keep the guys behind me. I really have to thank the team; they gave me a perfect car to do it and taught me well how to drive an oval. My driving style is very smooth and sometimes on the road courses, I’m not aggressive enough so right now, this couldn’t suit me any better. I’m so happy to do this with fellow Aussies here, especially the Australian Consul-General, it was so special to have them here to witness this win.”
Provisional championship points after five of 15 races:
1. Braden Eves, 153
2. Hunter McElrea, 109
3. Colin Kaminsky, 86
4. Darren Keane, 86
5. Alex Baron, 85
6. Cameron Shields, 84
7. Manuel Sulaiman, 83
8. Christian Rasmussen, 63
9. Reece Gold, 60
10. Anthony Famularo, 53
Next stop for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will be a pair of races alongside both the NTT IndyCar Series and the top rung on the Road to Indy, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on June 22-23.
About the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires: The Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is one of the most successful driver development programs in the world. Comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the ladder system provides a unique, scholarship-funded path to the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. The NTT IndyCar Series grid is comprised of numerous drivers who have come through the Road to Indy. In 2018, 25 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 were graduates including the past five Indy Lights champions. The mission of the Road to Indy is to develop and advance, and that includes not only drivers but teams and personnel as well. More information can be found at www.roadtoindy.info, www.indylights.com, www.indypro2000.com, www.usf2000.com, www.roadtoindy.tv and www.indycar.com.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the NTT IndyCar Series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track in rally, rallycross and short course off-road racing. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. Connect with Cooper on Twitter and Instagram by following @TeamCooperTire or visit our website at www.coopertire.com.