INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Parker Thompson this afternoon underlined the importance of confidence in auto racing. Since scoring his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda victory at Barber Motorsports Park last month, the young Canadian has been riding the crest of a wave. His second victory came just a day after his first, and after finishing a close second yesterday in the first of two races that comprised the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis Powered by Mazda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course, Thompson roared back to Victory Lane to cement his position atop the championship standings.
Brazilian Victor Franzoni finished hot on his rival’s heels for ArmsUp Motorsports, while Australian Luke Gabin went some way toward making up for his heartbreak yesterday by rounding out the podium following another impressive performance for Jay Green’s compact JAY Motorsports team.
Unfortunately, the majority of the 30-minute race was completed behind the Safety Car following a first-lap incident in Turn One as well as a lengthy cleanup after Austin McCusker’s disappointing weekend continued when his Chastain Motorsports/Primus Racing Van Diemen-Mazda deposited a trail of oil around much of the 2.439-mile road course. Nine laps were already in the books by the time the race was restarted.
Pole-sitter Thompson made no mistakes either at the initial start or the restart and was able to maintain his lead ahead of Franzoni, who had vaulted from fourth on the grid to second by virtue of an opportunistic maneuver around the outside line at Turn One. A trio of talented young Australians followed, with Friday race winner Anthony Martin (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) and Gabin, who started seventh, both sneaking past early season points leader Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing) immediately after the restart.
Gabin continued his charge, passing Martin for the final podium position just a couple of laps before the finish.
Lloyd took fifth ahead of Pabst Racing teammates Yufeng Luo, from China, and Garth Rickards, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., then Brazilian Lucas Kohl for John Cummiskey Racing. TJ Fischer (Team Pelfrey) earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award for the second straight day, rising from 17th on the grid to ninth ahead of teammate Robert Megennis.
Dale VandenBush bounced back from a first-lap retirement on Friday to win the National Class with a 17th-place overall finish for ArmsUp Motorsports, followed by Robert Armington (Tomasi Motorsports).
Winning team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape claimed the PFC Award, while Franzoni took home the Staubli Award.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will remain in the Indianapolis area for its next round – the only oval event of its 16-race season – at Lucas Oil Raceway on May 27.
Parker Thompson (#2 Weyburn Energy-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “This is such a great feeling! It was very important to get the win for the entire Cape Motorsports team. It made it a dominant weekend for us. I was able to get a good jump, hold the lead and hang onto it for the win. I knew I had the car to win so getting the win was important – this is the kind of day you can’t throw away if you’re going to win a championship. And to get a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, right before the 100th running of the Indy 500, is so special. I couldn’t believe all the fans around the track, given how cold it was. They were really cheering me on and it was great to be able to wave at them on the victory lap.”