Braden Eves leaves Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with one pole and one win
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (April 25, 2021) – Exclusive Autosport returned to the temporary street course of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this past weekend and the team scored its second win of the season in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. American Braden Eves blasted out of the gate by topping the charts in the one and only practice session on Friday, before grabbing the pole and the victory in Race 1. He came back on Sunday with a solid sixth-place finish to maintain his lead in the championship. Russia’s Artem Petrov qualified third to start the weekend and took a fourth in the opening race of the doubleheader before bouncing back from a disappointing 14th in Race 2 qualifying to record an eighth-place result. The drivers gained important points and continue to lead in the Team Championship standings.
“Braden picked right up where he left off last March when COVID shut down the weekend and having missed the season finale here in St. Pete after his IMS accident, his pole and race win was remarkable,” said Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “The team is gelling incredibly well and Artem’s performance added to our overall success. He scored his third straight top-five finish on Saturday and then showed patient aggression on Sunday to score a crucial eighth-place finish. That run has kept him firmly in the early-season championship hunt. I’m really proud of both of them and the EA crew. It was great to win with our Cambridge Global Payments car while we had our friends from Cambridge at the race cheering us on.”
The doubleheader event kicked off on Friday morning with Indy Pro 2000’s one and only practice session. Later in the afternoon, the drivers hit the track for Qualifying 1. Eves and Petrov were immediately fast and topped the charts. Petrov held onto the top spot until the very end of the session, when Eves grabbed away the Race 1 pole. Saturday morning started bright and early with Qualifying 2 at 8:00 am. Unfortunately, both Exclusive Autosport drivers were hindered with minor mechanical issues. Eves was only able to make four timed laps, and he pushed as hard as possible to earn the sixth starting spot. Petrov battled a mysterious shifting issue and qualified 14th. Race 1 was run on Saturday afternoon and, in dominating fashion, Braden would lead from green to checkered. Artem continued to fight for a podium spot, but ended up slipping back to fourth, just off the podium. It was his third straight top-five finish after two podiums at Barber Motorsports Park to start the season.
Sunday’s Indy Pro 2000 Race 2 took place under cloudy skies, again early in the morning. With a chance of rain, both drivers knew they needed to fight forward quickly. In typical Petrov fashion, Artem immediately went in attack mode, grabbing positions while he expertly avoided two wrecks that would have ended his day. He advanced six positions to finish in the eighth position, earning the ‘Hard Charger’ award for Race 2 in the process. Eves got a tremendous start as well, moving up to the fourth spot on the opening lap. Braden would continue to fight for another podium finish, but after a lot of shuffling around the last couple laps, he was forced to settle for sixth.
In the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires point standings, Eves left the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with the lead, with Petrov in fourth just eight points behind third. The team also continues to lead in the Team Championship, which provides the team with the first pit boxes on pit lane for the next event. The next event on the calendar is in three weeks, as part of the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Exclusive Autosport fans and supporters can catch this race live on www.roadtoindy.tv or on the Road to Indy TV App. As always, follow our social media outlets for coverage throughout the race weekend.
Exclusive Autosport is pleased to be able to partner with great companies, such as Cambridge Global Payments (https://ca.cambridgefx.com/exclusive-autosport/) and AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology (www.rethinkpaint.com), which is used on all their race cars.
EXCLUSIVE AUTOSPORT – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES
INDY PRO 2000 – ROUND 3/4 – APRIL 23-25, 2021
INDY PRO 2000 GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG – ST. PETERSBURG, FL
ARTEM PETROV – #42
Qualifying 1: 3rd – 1:09.270
Qualifying 2: 14th – 1:09.084
Race 1: Start – 3rd / Finish – 4th
Race 2: Start – 14th / Finish – 8th
Driver Quote: “This weekend in St. Pete was much harder for me mentally than Barber, because last fall I had a crash here which caused me to lose my third place in the championship, so I had to change my mindset to prepare for it. Starting with practice, it wasn’t too bad, I just needed to put it all together. In the first qualifying session, I had brake issues but thankfully I finished my best lap before the red flag came out and that’s how I managed to finish in P3. In the second qualifying session, I had electrical issues, so I had downshifting problems which is why I qualified P14. It’s a shame that it happened, but I still had to prepare for Race 1. It was really hard to race after the qualifying session because I needed to change mentally to prepare because it was really hard to drive the car with this issue. I ended up P4 in Race 1, which is rather good, but it is not what I wanted because I tried for a podium. In the last race, the goal was to score as many points as I could. The start was quite hard because there was a big crash in front of me, but I kept pushing to overtake as many positions as I could and I finished P8, which is crazy good with where I qualified. Thank you to my EA crew for all their hard work.”
BRADEN EVES – #91
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:08.936
Qualifying 2: 6th – 1:08.670
Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st
Race 2: Start – 6th / Finish – 6th
Driver Quote: “It was a great weekend in St Pete. I wish we could have had the whole second qualifying session as I could have had two wins easily this weekend. Overall, it was a great team effort and I’m excited for the rest of the season. I would like to thank our team sponsor, Cambridge Global Payments, for their support to my team and myself.”
EXCLUSIVE AUTOSPORT – SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS:
Photo Credit: Gavin Baker / Road to Indy
About Exclusive Autosport:
Exclusive Autosport (EA) is a professional racing team dedicated to the success of its drivers in open-wheel formula car competition in North America. EA operates teams on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The team also competes in the F1600 Championship Series in the US, and in F1600 competition in Ontario, Quebec and Eastern America to develop young racers for advancement up their internal ladder system. Exclusive Autosport’s drivers have secured numerous championships, race wins, podium finishes and pole positions, as well as Rookie of the Year awards. Exclusive Management Inc., the team’s parent company, has enjoyed great success in both open-wheel and sports car racing and has worked with standout drivers. Their mission is to develop drivers and prepare them for the upper echelons of professional motorsports.