Portland International Raceway this weekend, August 30-September 1, will host all three levels of the Road to Indy open-wheel racing development ladder as the first of just two events remaining in the 2019 season. Championship titles and lucrative scholarship prizes to further the champions’ careers remain to be clinched in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the first rung on the ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
The outcome of the USF2000 championship remains in the balance following a recent string of excellent results for Hunter McElrea and some disappointments for season-long pacesetter Braden Eves.
Following an impressive debut at Portland one year ago, Eves, 20, from New Albany, Ohio, began the year with an unprecedented (since the formation of the Road to Indy in 2010) four consecutive victories for the Cape Motorsports team. Another win at Road America in June saw Eves stretch his lead over McElrea to a whopping 41 points. But Eves has finished only once among the top five in the four most recent races, while New Zealander McElrea, 19, has recorded two wins, three additional podiums and three poles from his last six starts for Pabst Racing.
Accordingly, they are now separated by only nine points with four races to go.
Their respective teammates, Darren Keane (Cape Motorsports), from Boca Raton, Fla., and Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., also have enjoyed solid campaigns and currently hold down third and fourth in the points table. Keane, who dovetails his racing with his engineering studies at the University of Florida, earned an overdue first win at Toronto in July. Kaminsky has yet to reach the top step of the podium but seems to be getting closer and closer with each passing weekend, as evidenced by his tally of two poles and four podium finishes.
The hottest driver of all in recent weeks has been Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen, who has accumulated two wins and two seconds from his last four races with the Jay Howard Driver Development team.
Two newcomers will grace the field this weekend, with Josh Green, 16, from Mount Kisco, N.Y., joining Jay Howard Driver Development and Ayrton Ori, 15, from Tampa. Fla., signing on with Legacy Autosport alongside Zach Holden, from Greenfield, Ind. Green currently lies second in the F1600 Championship Series in his first season of racing and has recently been nominated for a prestigious Team USA Scholarship.
In addition, local driver Kyle Dupell, from Salem, Ore., is set to make his return to competition with Newman Wachs Racing. Dupell capped his rookie campaign last year with a pair of top-10 finishes at Portland. And Brazilian teenager Eduardo Barrichello, son of Ferrari Formula 1 race winner Rubens Barrichello, will join DEForce Racing for the first time alongside Mexican Manuel Sulaiman.
Fellow rookie Jak Crawford (Cape Motorsports), 14, from Houston, Texas, will take some time out of his schedule to visit Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland on Wednesday as part of the RE/MAX Month of Miracles, a campaign to raise awareness and funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. He will be joined by Indy Lights driver Rinus VeeKay. Crawford, who carries sponsorship from RE/MAX of Texas, will also welcome children, their families and representatives from the hospital for a special day at the track on Saturday. He will be sharing videos and photos as part of an Instagram takeover of the official @remax account.
The on-track activities for the 19-car USF2000 field will begin with three 45-minute test sessions on Thursday, then continue with official practice at 12:35 p.m. PDT on Friday and qualifying for Race One at 5:10 p.m. A second 20-minute qualifying will start at 9:05 a.m. on Saturday. The pair of 25-lap races, Rounds 12 and 13 of the season, will see the green flag at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 4:15 p.m. on Sunday.
Both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 will feature global live streaming of all sessions on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV, usf2000.com, indypro2000.com and indycar.com.