INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mexico’s Salvador de Alba and Canadian Mac Clark emerged victorious in front of a large and appreciative crowd yesterday evening in the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park as the USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires made their one and only visit this season to an oval track.
De Alba, from Guadalajara, Mexico, made a lightning start from third on the grid and went on to win the Freedom 90 USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires event over Exclusive Autosport teammate Joel Granfors, from Eskilstuna, Sweden. Local favorite Jack William Miller, from Carmel, Ind., had to settle for third for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports after starting on pole position.
In the earlier USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires contest, last year’s USF Juniors champion, Mac Clark, from Milton, Ont., Canada sped to an emphatic victory for DEForce Racing in his first-ever oval start.
Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Loveland, Ohio, and Simon Sikes (Pabst Racing), from Augusta, Ga., completed the USF2000 podium.
De Alba’s Fast Start Decisive
The outcome of the USF Pro 2000 race was decided within moments of the green flag flying. Miller used his extensive oval experience, dating back to 2019, to claim his first Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season during qualifying yesterday afternoon, but he was unable to hold back a fast-starting de Alba, who quickly muscled his way into the lead of the 90-lap race.
Immediately behind, Francesco Pizzi (TJ Speed Motorsports), from Rome, Italy, also displaced Granfors on the opening lap, moving from fourth into third, although the Swede was able to redress the balance on the 38th lap as the leaders negotiated some slower traffic. The quartet circulated together in the same order until lap 65, when Granfors finally was able to find a chink in Miller’s armor and slip through into second.
The two Exclusive cars then edged clear of Miller and Pizzi before Pizza’s teammate Christian Weir, from Naperville, Ill., lost control in Turn Four after 79 laps and necessitated a full-course caution. Unfortunately, there wasn’t quite enough time for the race to be restarted, so de Alba was declared the winner ahead of Granfors, Miller and Pizzi.
Myles Rowe (Pabst Racing with Force Indy), from Brooklyn, N.Y., maintained his healthy championship lead after passing Michael d’Orlando (Turn 3 Motorsport), from Hartsdale, N.Y., for fifth after 61 laps.
Jonathan Browne, from Dublin, Ireland, continued his strong run of form for Turn 3 Motorsport by securing seventh ahead of Jordan Missig (Pabst Racing), from Channahon, Ill. Missig’s fine effort, having started last in the 18-car field after crashing in qualifying, earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
Michael Duncalfe earned his second successive PFC Award as the winning car owner following Granfors’ victory a couple of weeks ago on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course.
De Alba’s victory vaulted him from ninth in the points table to fourth, only nine points behind teammate Granfors in second.
Provisional championship points after 7 of 18 rounds:
1. Myles Rowe, 165
2. Joel Granfors, 133
3. Francesco Pizzi, 128
4. Salvador de Alba, 124
5. Kiko Porto, 117
6. Reece Ushijima, 101
7. Jack William Miller, 101
8. Jonathan Browne, 101
9. Jace Denmark, 96
10. Lirim Zendeli, 83
“It was a very, very good week, “enthused de Alba, “We improved the car a lot in the test sessions yesterday, and qualifying was the best of the season in third place. We knew we had a very good race pace. At the start, we managed to get into first place. We stayed there the entire race and managed the tires. Joel, at the end, caught me a little bit and I pushed a lot. We still had good tires and managed to finish it. Congrats to Joel, another one-two for Exclusive Autosport. I am very thankful to my sponsors for making this possible and for sure we are going in the right direction. I hope to be on the podium many times this year.”
Race Report Provided by USF Pro Championships PR
Photo Credit: Gavin Baker