LEXINGTON, OH (October 3, 2021) – Exclusive Autosport returned to the 2.258-mile, 13-turn purpose-built road course of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season finale this past weekend. The team added its USF2000 race winner Christian Brooks as a third driver to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires line-up, ensuring their success of scoring the 2021 Team Championship while also giving the talented American his first taste of the series before a planned graduation in 2022. Over the finale weekend, Russian Artem Petrov and American Braden Eves added two more podiums to the team’s 2021 statistics with a second and a third-place finish in Race 1. Brooks was impressive all weekend, scoring a pair of top-five finishes, adding welcomed assistance in securing the 2021 Team Championship. The final tally of success for Exclusive Autosport included with five wins and 18 podiums.
“I am incredibly proud of the Exclusive Autosport team,” said Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “To win the Indy Pro 2000 Team Championship is truly an honor. The series is so competitive and we have a lot to hold our head high over including Braden finishing second in the driver championship and Artem finishing 4th in the drivers’ championship. Everyone worked incredibly hard this past year. I have the pleasure of working with an amazing, dedicated, and talented group under the EA tent. We couldn’t have achieved this without each and every member of the Exclusive Autosport team, as well as the drivers and families who believed in us. Thank you to everyone involved in the EA program, as well as our team partner Cambridge Global Payments for their support this year.”
The weekend event got underway on Friday afternoon with the lone practice session of the weekend. Petrov topped the charts to provide the team with the data it needed to pursue a winning weekend. On Saturday morning, the drivers took part in the qualifying session to set the field for Race 1. All three drivers flirted with top-five starting positions, but it was Petrov who stepped to the forefront to grab his first pole of the season. Eves and Brooks lined-up right behind him in third and fifth. Later in the afternoon, the opening race of the doubleheader got started and Petrov immediately jumped to the lead, creating a comfortable gap to second. However, an issue midway through the race slowed his pace and forced him to surrender the lead. Despite the problem, Artem rallied back to take second at the checkered flag. Eves and Brooks fought hard throughout the entire race, coming out of spirited battles to finish where they started in third and fifth, respectively.
Sunday started bright and early with an extremely wet track for Qualifying 2. The three EA drivers topped the charts the entire session, just to get pipped at the very end. Petrov would line up in third, with Brooks in fourth and Eves in fifth. In the final race of the year, Petrov quickly went to the lead but lost grip on the opening lap in turn four, going off course to bring out a full-course caution. Artem was extricated from the gravel trap quickly and restarted without losing a lap, although he was well behind the tail of the field for the restart. Another caution gave him the opportunity to get back in the fight, and he worked forward steadily into third. On the final lap, Artem slipped to fourth, where he would officially finish. Brooks delivered yet another stellar performance to garner a second top-five finish in his Indy Pro 2000 debut weekend. Like Petrov, Eves paced the field early in the race after Artem went off, but as the conditions changed through the race as the rain had stopped, a new shower coming through the facility caught Braden off-guard as the first driver through the now-wet section of the track. Eves went off-track and came back on in second, but another trip to the grass in the treacherous conditions left him with a 10th place result.
Eves had already secured second in the championship prior to taking the green flag, while Petrov’s recovering moved him up a spot in the standings to finish the year in fourth overall. The combined efforts of the drivers delivered Exclusive Autosport with their first Road to Indy Team Championship, the most coveted honors in the paddock.