ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – Cape Motorsports and their impressive freshman driver Kyle Kirkwood once again dominated the top of the podium in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, sweeping both 12-lap main events at the iconic four-mile Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. during the INDYCAR Kohler Grand Prix weekend.
Kirkwood qualified second for the opening race and then swept around the polesitter during the initial run into turn one, taking a lead that he would not relinquish. In Race 2, the 18-year-old started fourth and worked his way forward methodically throughout the race, attacking on a late-race restart to back up his Saturday triumph with his fifth win of the season. The weekend success has extended the young American’s lead in the championship standings to 94 points.
“Kyle and the boys did another great job in Road America,” enthused Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “We knew we had a good strong package for both races, especially over the race distances. Kyle drove exceptionally well and put himself in the best position to maximize his performance. Now we’re all fully focused on Toronto, which is one of our favorite races of the year.”
Kirkwood was in the fight from the get-go, going head-to-head with numerous multi-car teams during the single practice session on Friday morning. The 19-year-old is Cape’s sole USF2000 driver this year and was second fastest to begin the weekend. He then qualified second for the opening race of the doubleheader, getting pipped for the pole by just 0.02 seconds by the final driver on-track. Friday’s schedule was completed with Race 2 qualifying in the late afternoon, and Kyle timed in fourth to put him on the outside of row two for Sunday’s race.
The opening race of the weekend was held early Saturday afternoon in front of a large crowd of spectators and campers, and after taking the lead on the opening lap, Kirkwood survived the restart challenges after a pair of full course cautions. He delivered Cape Motorsports a flawless performance to extend their winning streak to three races, continuing the run that includes victories on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and in the Freedom 75 oval event at Lucas Oil Raceway. Kyle maintained a comfortable gap through the race, and also turned the fast lap of the race.
The second race of the doubleheader was run bright and early on Sunday morning, and this event was much more chaotic. Two opening lap incidents set the tone, as Kyle slotted into fourth in the early going. He was patient, taking advantage of situations to move to second before the final full course caution of the race, which set up a one-lap battle for the win. Restarting right behind the leader, Kyle got a good jump at the start and used the draft down the long Road America frontstretch to take over the lead heading into turn one. He then ran a defensive line down into turn five and was able to hold back his attackers, who were fighting it out amongst each other. Kyle extended enough of a gap over the remainder of the lap to eliminate any chance of an over-take, crossing the line by 0.4663 seconds of Pabst Racing’s Kaylen Frederick.
Cape Motorsports and Kirkwood now take a strong 94-point lead into the second half of the season. The team will now move its focus onto the second street circuit of the season, as they will head north of the border to Canada for the Toronto Indy event on July 13-15. The remainder of the races on the 2018 schedule include a tripleheader at Mid-Ohio and the doubleheader season finale at Portland International Raceway on Labor Day weekend.
KYLE KIRKWOOD – #8
Qualifying 1: 2nd – 2:09.278
Qualifying 2: 4th – 2:09.686
Race 1: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st
Race 2: Start – 4th / Finish – 1st
Driver Quote: “To me, this was the best weekend we’ve had this year, and it may also top any weekend we had in 2017 (in F4). The racing was extremely close and we really had to fight for this one. Even though our qualifying pace wasn’t the best we’ve had, our race pace was incredible and the Cape guys had me on rails for the two 40-minute races! Without a doubt, none of this would be possible without Firstex, Bell Helmets and Crossfit Palm Beach. So, a massive ‘thanks’ goes out to them. We now look towards Toronto, which will be my second street race ever. Cape Motorsports has been very quick there in the past, so I’m very excited for that event.”