Browne earns top-ten result, Kohlbecker and Weir strong in race
Indianapolis, Ind. (May 30, 2022) – Championship contender Josh Green took home a podium finish at this weekend’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90 Indy Pro 2000 Race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park after an impressive run up to the front during the Carb Night Classic.
After a rain delay on Thursday which caused back to back practice and qualifying sessions for the competitors, Green qualified his #3 car sixth in his single car qualifying run, setting him up for a challenge to catch up to the leaders in the 90-lap race the following day.
Green rose to the challenge and collected two positions on the opening lap of the race, moving him up to fourth position right at the start. After about 25 laps of racing, Green’s car was consistently .2 seconds faster than the leaders, allowing him to close the gap to the third place car of Enaam Ahmed lap after lap. On lap 54, Green successfully made the pass for third in Turns 1 and 2 before a yellow flag came out for an incident just ahead of him.
On the Lap 56 restart, Green took a peek for P2 but stayed patient for the right opportunity to make the pass. While fighting for second place, Green was suddenly called to serve a late penalty on Lap 66 and give up third position for allegedly passing under the yellow flag. He obliged and quickly regained third position under the green but was then told to surrender the position once again after his first relinquishment was deemed unsatisfactory. Despite the setback, Green still finished third and earned valuable championship points, putting him fifth overall in the points leaving the weekend.
3 Josh Green // Indy Pro 2000
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“I’m extremely proud of everyone under the tent this weekend,” said Green. “We didn’t start off where we wanted to by any means and struggled to find our way in the practice sessions. When qualifying rolled around, we maximized our package and got a solid P6. Peter and the team worked hard overnight to figure out where we could find what we needed to have a strong race car, and they executed that near perfectly. We got off to a strong race start and slowly worked our way forward to get both Turn 3’s and my first podium at the oval! It takes a team, and every weekend we continue to rise to the challenge. Never say die!”
This weekend marked Jonathan Browne’s debut into oval racing, and although facing a challenging schedule with limited time to practice, the Irishman gained confidence with every session and did an excellent job becoming acclimated to the track and racing conditions to give a great performance in the Freedom 90.
Starting 13th for the race, Browne took the green flag and settled in for the 90-lap contest. Browne steadily gained two positions as the laps ticked on, and with less than 20 laps to go, he broke into the top ten after passing the #4 car of Braden Eves. With lap times that were fast enough to put him in the top six, Browne spent the remaining few laps catching up with the field and ultimately finished P10 in his first oval event.
2 Jonathan Browne // Indy Pro 2000
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“It was not the easiest of days for me,” said Browne. “I struggled with a couple things in practice which followed into qualifying, leaving us to start at the back for the race. After a difficult start, I was able to climb back up from 14th to 10th with the pace to be in the top seven by the end. I’m really happy with the steps the team made giving Josh and I a really good car in the race, so a big thank you to all of them. I’m looking forward to getting back at a road course again next!”
“Indianapolis Raceway Park is certainly one of the most challenging ovals we go to,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “It’s high stress on the team and on the drivers with the physical demands of running against the wall lap after lap. I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished with the Indy Pro 2000 team this weekend. We had a rough start, but the drivers and team stuck together to work tirelessly to improve every time we went on track. Fortunately, we had time post qualifying to work on the car to improve it for the race.”
“Josh drove an amazing race and was consistently one of the fastest on track,” continued Dempsey. “Unfortunately, his chances for a win were taken away from him with a bad call from race control. He did a great job to stay calm and maximize our result, ending up P3 and taking home some good points for the championship. For Jonathan, it turned into a ‘tick the box’ weekend where his main focus was to get the experience in oval racing. He did a good job, and now we can refocus on the road course of Road America in a couple of weeks.”
COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP
Following a very condensed schedule due to rain delays on Thursday, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship driver Spike Kohlbecker had a good qualifying session, putting his car P1 after his single car run and eventually coming away with an eighth place starting position once the remaining cars completed their laps. Teammate and rookie Christian Weir also had a strong showing in qualifying, appearing P2 after his run and ultimately ending up P11 for the start of the Cooper Tires Freedom 75 USF2000 Race.
On race day, Weir showed excellent pace in the pre-race practice, topping the session with a best time of 22.5566 seconds. With only .5 seconds separating the entire USF2000 field, the competition was fierce in the 75-lap contest.
Kohlbecker put up a good fight for P7, going side by side with the #19 car of Simon Sikes from Laps 10-13 and settling back into eighth before trying again for the move later on. With 12 laps to go, Kohlbecker once again put the pressure on Sikes but ended up losing the position to the #92 car of Billy Frazer and finishing the race with his #33 car in P9.
33 Spike Kohlbecker // USF2000
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“Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park is such a cool track,” said Kohlbecker. “It’s probably the hardest two turns I will ever drive, but I had so much fun racing on the oval. I’m also excited to be back on some road courses again! Up next is Road America which is one of the fastest tracks we race at. I’m looking forward to it!”
In his first ever oval race, 15-year-old Weir held his own against some tough competition. At just over the halfway point, Weir had closed the gap to the #11 car of Dylan Christie and gave it all he had to take over P10. After a well fought battle, Weir brought the #32 car home in P11 at the end of the 75-lap race.
32 Christian Weir // USF2000
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“We had a tough weekend,” said Weir. “We had some extreme pace and were able to be fastest in some of the practice sessions, but bad luck struck at the wrong time and ended up ruining our qualifying. With not much happening in the race, we ended up finishing where we started. But it is good to have my first oval in the books, and we can learn from our experiences this weekend and grow from here on.”
“On our USF2000 side, we had flashes of pace throughout the weekend with both drivers,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “Unfortunately, when it counted to be there, we were not. This left us in a tough position starting the race P8 and P11 for one of the hardest tracks in the country to overtake on. I feel that Spike raced really well and fought for every position out there, he just wasn’t in a position to pass Sikes early in the race. I feel if we passed him, it would have released Spike to catch the cars ahead.”
“For Christian, it took a while to get comfortable in the race with regards to being more aggressive to position the cars in the right areas, ultimately leaving him p11,” continued Dempsey. “Moving forward, we need to get stronger as a team. Our performances need to improve, and hopefully we can start that at Road America.”
The Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires resumes its championship at the fan favorite Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin June 10-12 for Rounds 9 and 10.