Kyle Kirkwood is on a roll in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
After sweeping the last round at Road America, the driver of the No. 28 RP Motorsport Tatuus PM-18 led opening practice and captured the pole for the opening race of the doubleheader weekend at Honda Indy Toronto.
The 20-year-old Floridian put down a lap of 1 minute, 8.698 seconds (93.593 mph), bettering championship leader Rasmus Lindh (No. 10 Juncos Racing) by 0.241 of a second.
“I had multiple good laps," Kirkwood said. "There were a few that I think were within a few hundredths, but the last lap was honestly going to be the best (until) there was a caution in the last sector of the lap.
“I was projected to be about three tenths quicker, but the yellow (flag) hindered that. I’m still happy with what we showed. Our car was extremely fast the entire session and we only used one set of tires. I know a lot of people came in and used two sets of tires, which is really promising for our race pace.”
Kirkwood delivered an encore performance to also claim pole for the second race, doing so with a monumental lap of 1:07.380 (95.423 mph), escaping the clutches of Lindh by a slim 0.0585 seconds.
Additionally, Kirkwood shattered the previous track record of 1:07.9783 (94.590 mph) set last year by eventual series champion Rinus VeeKay. In fact, all drivers that qualified in the top five went faster than the mark set a season ago.
The first race of the doubleheader weekend for the second rung of the Road to Indy will start at 9:25 a.m. ET on Saturday and will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com. The second race will be Sunday at 9:55 a.m. Both races will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com.
Rasmussen takes pole in USF2000
Christian Rasmussen prevailed to claim pole for the first race of Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at Exhibition Place.
Driving the No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-17, the 19-year-old from Denmark put down a lap of 1m, 13.545s (87.424 mph) around the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit.
The flying lap was put down moments before Zach Holden (No. 14 Legacy Autosport) brought out the red flag after making heavy contact with the tire barrier in Turn 8. The lengthy cleanup took just over 13 minutes, which left time for one lap to all drivers, which wasn’t nearly enough to warm up their Cooper Tires and make a serious run to dethrone Rasmussen from the top spot.
“I’m very satisfied with that,” Rasmussen said. “Finally being up here, it’s been a long time coming. I enjoy getting the laps in. It is very driver dependent being on street circuits, so I really enjoy that.”
Darren Keane (No. 2 Cape Motorsports), who paced an opening practice that was impacted by three red flags, was 0.2131 of a second off the top time to qualify second. Teammate and championship leader Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) struggled with pace and will start tomorrow’s race in sixth.
The green flag for the opening race of the first rung of the Road to Indy will wave 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, with qualifying for the second round beginning the on-track festivities at 8:05 a.m. Both will be streamed live on racecontrol.indycar.com.
Askew paces Indy Lights practice
Oliver Askew enjoyed a strong opening practice for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires on the streets of Toronto.
The 22-year-old Floridian pushed out a flying lap at 1 minutes, 6.555 seconds (96.605 mph) in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15, which was enough to better title rival Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) by a narrow 0.0345 of a second.
Aaron Telitz (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing) also had the leaders within his sights, finishing the session just 0.0387 of a second off the top spot in third.
Qualifying for the first race is set for Saturday at 8:40 a.m. and will be followed up by the race later in the day at 12:45 p.m. Both will be streamed on NBC Sports Gold.
(This story will be updated with the second round of qualifying for Indy Pro 2000)