Exclusive Autosport Extends Team Championship Lead at NJMP
 September 1, 2021| 
  • Team News
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MILLVILLE, NJ – Exclusive Autosport returned to the 2.25-mile, 12-turn purpose-built road course of New Jersey Motorsports Park and, on the strength of four podium finishes and a race win, they extended their lead in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires Team Championship standings.

An assortment of weather conditions provided an extreme challenge to the drivers and team, which offered the opportunity for Russia’s Artem Petrov to show his skills in the rain. Petrov used the wet weather to his advantage, dominating a rain-soaked Race 2 before following up that stellar performance with another podium finish in Race 3. American Braden Eves drove to a pair of podium finishes himself, gaining valuable points in the championship hunt as his primary title competition faltered. The two double-podium races by the EA squad have all but clinched the crew their first Team Championship.

“New Jersey was an interesting weekend for us,” said Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “A huge thank you to the EA crew, who built a brand-new Indy Pro car for Artem in two days so that he would be able to compete this weekend after his massive crash at World Wide Technology Raceway the weekend prior. We had an issue with the car on Saturday, which prevented Artem from qualifying well. Once that was resolved, we were able to see Artem’s true pace. I am incredibly proud to watch him put in such a dominating performance in the wet and close the points gap on third place in the championship. Braden put in solid performances this weekend as well, gaining two podiums and valuable points in the championship hunt. He’s 18 points out. Anything can happen at Mid-Ohio. We will be pushing hard for w’s at the final round. Hats off to both our IP engineers who do such an incredible job. I can’t thank them enough for all their efforts to give our drivers fast race cars.”

The weekend event got underway on Friday with two unofficial test sessions, which Eves and Petrov used to dial in their race and qualifying set-ups. Saturday’s schedule featured their one and only official practice session followed by morning qualifying for Race 1, which took place later in the afternoon. New Jersey Motorsports Park is notoriously difficult to pass on in the dry, and where a driver starts is normally where they finish. Eves qualified fifth, and with a tough start, he fell back to the seventh position, where he finished the race, while an issue in the qualifying session left Petrov in 10th. Artem was relentless in his attack on the ninth-place driver and eventually took the position with a bold move on the outside of turn 1 late in the race.

Sunday started bright and early with Qualifying 2, which set the grid for both races using each of the drivers’ two fastest laps. Both Petrov and Eves flirted with the provisional pole, however, they were pipped on the last lap by one of their competitors. The drivers would settle for the second and third starting spots for Race 2, and they were focused on optimizing those starting positions. Race 2 took place mid-afternoon under very wet conditions. From the green flag, Petrov took charge of the lead and he never looked back, dominating his competition. When the checkered flags flew, he crossed the line with an impressive 15-second lead.

Eves slotted into third at the start, consistently pushing to move into second, however, time ran out and he finished where he started to earn crucial points in the championship chase. Race 3 capped off the weekend on Sunday afternoon, this time under dry conditions, with a light mist. Eves started on the outside of Row One, with Petrov on the inside of the second row. Both drivers settled into their starting positions when the green flag flew, and although they pushed extremely hard, that is where they would finish.

In the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires point standings, Eves left New Jersey Motorsports Park sitting second in the championship, now just 18 points away from the lead. Petrov is now fifth, just eight points from fourth. The team also continues to lead in the Team Championship, extending their gap to the second-place team. This position will provide Exclusive Autosport with the first pit boxes on pit lane for the next event, which is coming up on the October 1-3 weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. 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 14/15/16 – AUGUST 28-29, 2021

INDY PRO 2000 GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY ANDERSEN COMPANIES – MILLVILLE, NJ

ARTEM PETROV - #42

Qualifying 1: 10th – 1:14.390

Qualifying 2: 2nd – 1:22.311

Race 1: Start – 10th / Finish – 9th

Race 2: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st

Race 3: Start – 3rd / Finish 3rd

Driver Quote: “I’m super happy to score two podiums after a huge crash last weekend and some unlucky moments this season. I was starting to think I was cursed, between the crash and the team having to rebuild a new car, and a gearbox issue yesterday. I’m so thankful to them for their hard work; I think my curse is finally over. I was just screaming over the radio after the race this morning, which is not something I usually do, but I was so happy with the win. I’m happy as well for the team and for Braden, to score two double podiums today, and he can still fight for the championship. I need to do a good job in Mid-Ohio as well to finish third in the championship.”

BRADEN EVES - #91

Qualifying 1: 5th – 1:13.889

Qualifying 2: 3rd – 1:22.604

Race 1: Start – 5th / Finish – 7th

Race 2: Start – 3rd / Finish – 3rd

Race 3: Start – 2nd / Finish 2nd  

Driver Quote: “The weekend did not start out well, but we salvaged everything we could. Finally, for what seems like the first time this season, something that should have gone our way did go our way! It comes back around, and I’m so thankful to have had such a good weekend. It was super slippery at the start of Race 2, and Artem did a stellar job capturing the win. Super happy for the team, Michael Duncalfe is really going after that team championship and these points really help. We’re only 18 points back in the championship now and we’re still in the fight. This is what I fight for all season, to maximize everything we can, even though it seems like we’ve been all over the place in results. The series is so competitive, I’m so grateful to get some big points this weekend.”

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