Extremely successful weekend at IMS maintains team and driver championship lead
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 15, 2021) – Exclusive Autosport returned the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend for the GMR Grand Prix on the facility’s 2.439, 14-turn road course, and the team scored its third win of the season in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Russia’s Artem Petrov notched his first win of the 2021 season in Race 2 after starting ninth, leveraging a great start and an ideal set-up. Ohio’s Braden Eves also had a strong, recording three podium finishes over the tripleheader weekend to maintain his point lead in the championship. Four podiums in all helped maintain the driver and team championship points lead for Exclusive Autosport.
“We’ve started off the season with strong momentum and I’m thrilled to keep it going through Indianapolis,” said Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “Our Indy Pro 2000 drivers are working extremely well together, which is a huge positive. I’m thrilled that Artem was able to get his first win of the season and this performance gave us our second 1-2 finish of 2021. Braden’s consistency this year is impressive and maintaining the lead in the team championship is huge for us. I look forward to returning to Lucas Oil Raceway where we’ve had success in the past. Thank you to Cambridge Global Payments for the continued support.”
The tripleheader event kicked off on Thursday morning with two unofficial test sessions for the Indy Pro 2000 drivers, and these runs were followed by the series’ one and only practice session in the afternoon. Petrov and Eves topped the charts in the first official session of the event, sitting 1-2 at the checkered flag. Friday’s action got started bright and early with the drivers taking the track for a single qualifying session. Eves put his car on the off-pole for Race 1, while Petrov qualified in the sixth position.
As part of a tight schedule, Indy Pro 2000 was back on the track for Race 1 later that morning. Eves rolled off in the second position and right away would attack for the lead grabbing it in Turn 2. He would fight with the top-three throughout the race and, by the end, he would finish where he started, in second place. Petrov wasn’t so lucky. During the opening lap, he was run into from behind, causing damage to the car. Despite the contact, Artem’s perseverance would pay off as he’d fight his way to a crucial top-five finish.
The cool mornings continued as Eves and Petrov hit the track at 8:00 am on Saturday morning for Race 2. With an ambient temperature of just 50 degrees, grip level was low. During a chaotic start, Eves was forced to abort Turn 1 when the polesitter locked up his brakes, leaving Braden with no choice but to take immediate action to take the emergency run-off. Eves returned to the track having lost four positions, but with the immediate full course caution, everyone pressed the reset button. Petrov took advantage of the chaos after starting ninth and expertly worked his way up to second. Artem had a monster restart, passing the car in front of him to grab the top spot, where he would stay the rest of the race to get his first win of the 2021 season. Braden also took advantage of the restart, slotting into third and after only a couple laps, he would find himself in the second position, where he would finish the race. These impressive performances gave Exclusive Autosport their second 1-2 finish of the season.
Race 3 was run just a couple hours later in the day and after another chaotic start, both drivers were shuffled back from their starting positions. However, both Artem and Braden were on a mission and worked their way up to third (Eves) and fifth (Petrov). Four podiums were gained on the weekend, giving the drivers and team much needed points towards the end goal of winning the championship.
In the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires point standings, Eves left the Grand Prix of Indianapolis with the lead, with Petrov in third just 24 points behind second. 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 two weeks for the Freedom 90, which is part of the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. 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 5/6/7 – MAY 13-15, 2021
INDY PRO 2000 GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
ARTEM PETROV – #42
Qualifying 1: 6th – 1:20.617
Qualifying 2: 9th – 1:20.827
Qualifying 3: 9th – 1:20.827
Race 1: Start – 6th / Finish – 5th
Race 2: Start – 9th / Finish – 1st
Race 3: Start – 9th / Finish – 5th
Driver Quote: “I’m so happy to win at Indy! To be honest, I’m not even sure what happened in that first corner in Race 2; I just kept my head down and went for whatever holes were there. I was able to get into second and then take the lead on the restart. At that point, I still had 20 laps to go, so I was very nervous because I had Braden filling my mirrors. It was great for us to finish one-two, it’s so important for the points. I’m so happy for the team and for my team owner, Michael (Duncalfe). Everyone did an awesome job. I am now third in the championship after my two fifth-place finishes and my win. I want to thank my family, friends and team for all their support.”
BRADEN EVES – #91
Qualifying 1: 2nd – 1:20.233
Qualifying 2: 2nd – 1:20.284
Qualifying 3: 2nd – 1:20.284
Race 1: Start – 2nd / Finish – 2nd
Race 2: Start – 2nd / Finish – 2nd
Race 3: Start – 2nd / Finish – 3rd
Driver Quote: “In Race 1, I went for it in the opening corner and took the lead in Turn 2. I led early, but ended up finishing second, which as a solid start to the weekend. On Saturday morning for Race 2, I thought there was no way Reece (Gold) would overshoot it two times in a row, but he overshot it worse than he did in Race 1. I knew there was no chance – if I’d tried to make it, I would have crashed us both out. So I aborted that, went through the cut-through and came back out in fifth. After that I was just slicing through cars left and right, I felt as though I was so fast straight out of the gate. I got to P2 quickly but Artem did a great job, making it hard on me, as both our cars were super fast. But with Rasmussen finishing further back, I didn’t want to risk anything. In Race 3, I lost second and ended up fourth, and it’s so hard to pass here with the aero wash, so I pressured Ahmed to see if he would make a mistake, and he did, so I’m happy to get on the podium for the points bump. That pass kept me in the championship points lead. I want to thank my engineer John Hayes, my team owner Michael Duncalfe, my crew and Cambridge Global Payments, Huston CCFI, Huston Insurance and MDRN Livery for their continued support.”
EXCLUSIVE AUTOSPORT – SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS:
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.