Canadian operation maintains Indy Pro 2000 Team Championship lead after the Indy Pro 2000 Oval Challenge of St. Louis
MADISON, IL (August 21, 2021) – Exclusive Autosport returned the popular 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway this past weekend for the Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Oval Challenge of St. Louis and, by the end of the weekend, the team had racked up its 14th podium and fourth win of the 2021 season. New Albany, Ohio’s Braden Eves improved one position from his 2020 performance, taking the lead on the opening lap before going flag-to-flag to record his third win of the season. Eves used his stellar performance to close the gap on the championship leader in the process, fueling momentum for the stretch run of the schedule. The Exclusive Autosport crew provided the 22-year-old American with a car set-up capable of winning the 55-lap race, and Eves delivered. Artem Petrov was on the move early in the race when he was taken out from behind entering turn one, and the contact sent his Tatuus PM-18 careening into the track’s SAFER barrier-lined wall.
“I am thrilled for Braden in the #91 Cambridge / Exclusive Autosport Tatuus, collecting the win at WWTR,” said Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “As a team, we haven’t won here before, so this was a very special moment for us and very important in the overall championship. With 46 points gained (points and a half plus a bonus point for most laps led), Braden has closed the gap on the championship and is very much in the hunt heading into the final two weekends. Unfortunately, Artem’s weekend didn’t finish on a high note. I want to sincerely thank the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team who were on the scene tending to Artem in a matter of seconds after the incident. The work they do is truly incredible. I am glad Artem is ok. He had such a fast car; it is disappointing his day had to end that way. He, along with the team, will rebound, rebuild and be back in good form for New Jersey this upcoming weekend. Last, but certainly not least, a huge thank you to all the members of the Exclusive Autosport crew for their hard work both in the shop and at the track.”
The second oval event of the 2021 season got underway on Thursday with two unofficial test sessions, which Eves and Petrov used to dial in their race and qualifying set-ups. Friday’s schedule featured a single official practice session ahead of single-car two-lap qualifying. Eves secured a position on the front row for the race with an impressive two-lap average of 139.852 mph, while Petrov lined up directly behind him on the grid in fourth with a speed of 138.058 mph.
In the race, Eves slipped behind polesitter James Roe at the green flag and then made his move to the inside of Turn Three to take a lead he would not relinquish. The first yellow flew on Lap 7 when another competitor’s right front made contact with Petrov’s left rear heading to the turn One-Two apex, and the hard impact with the wall slowed the field for 12 caution laps as the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team tended to the drivers before cleaning up the debris. When the race went back to green, Eves quickly established his gap and then held off advances from point leader Christian Rasmussen all the way to the checkered flag, winning by a comfortable margin of 0.7313 seconds.
In the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires point standings, Eves left the World Wide Technology Raceway sitting second in the championship with a comfortable gap over third. Petrov is now tied with Hunter McElrea for fourth. The team also continues to lead in the Team Championship, gaining a significant gap to the second-place team. This still provides Exclusive Autosport with the first pit boxes on pit lane for the next event, which is coming up this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park. 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.