Rasmussen, JHDD Win 2021 Driver’s Championship
 October 4, 2021| 
  • Team News
JDD championship 2021 IP

Lexington, Ohio – With a Race 1 win in the VP Racing Fuels Championship Weekend Presented by Cooper Tires double-header at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Jay Howard Driver Development pilot Christian Rasmussen is the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title winner.

After taking the win from second on the grid on Saturday afternoon, all Rasmussen had to do was take the green flag on Sunday to guarantee a minimum award of 9 points for Race 2 and mathematically secure the championship. Teammate Wyatt Brichacek was the sole JHDD participant in Sunday morning’s wet qualifying session, as Rasmussen sat out to eliminate any chance of incident.

In Race 2, Rasmussen put together a champion’s drive from eleventh on the grid, battling wheel-to-wheel, lap-after-lap, finding alternate lines on the drying track on his way to the podium positions. After dropping to P4 late, he executed a dramatic overtake around the outside of the final corner of the last lap, taking third in a photo finish and adding one last trophy to his 2021 collection. Brichacek secured a pair of consistent results of his own on the weekend, finishing P9 in Race 1 and P8 in Race 2.

The reigning 2020 Cooper Tires USF2000 champion, Rasmussen won 7 races out of 18 rounds on his way to the championship this year, his rookie season in Indy Pro 2000. He bettered his rivals on all types of circuits, adding a win at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval and a superb four-wide overtake on his way to second at the Gateway oval to his road course successes. Only one of his seven wins came from pole, as he showed all season long that he could convert his No. 1 JHDD machine’s pace into results when it mattered most. He displayed an elite racer’s instinct, getting his elbows out on the opening laps of a number of rounds, making overtakes in bunches. 

As champion, Rasmussen will receive a scholarship of over $700,000 to compete full time in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2022, where he will attempt to become the next triple Road to Indy ladder champion. 

In USF2000, Bijoy Garg drove well in Race 1 to gain a position, finishing P15 while teammate Jackson Lee finished P18. The wet conditions in Race 2 produced plenty of action and both drivers gained positions by avoiding a lap one wreck. Lee capitalized on the tricky track surface later on, and despite being contacted by a competitor into The Keyhole during an early restart and rejoining at the back of the pack, he fought his way up to a P12 finish. Bijoy was unfortunately hit in the rear by a competitor, taking away his chance of a strong result.

“In USF2000 Race 1, it was evident that here at Mid-Ohio, especially in dry conditions, it’s all about qualifying,” said team owner Jay Howard. “The boys didn’t have the best qualifying and when you’re in the middle of the pack, it’s hard to overtake. Definitely tricky conditions for the boys in Race 2, but I thought both of them did really well. They didn’t make any mistakes. They were actually the victims of other people’s errors. Bijoy was really quick, I think fifth fastest, and that’s working his way through the field. In clean air, he’d have been quicker than that. He’s driving really well. Bijoy was probably on for a fifth place finish, comfortably, and that got robbed so I feel bad for him. Jackson had a long time out of the car and didn’t make any mistakes, kept it clean. Overall good, but again, on paper, it didn’t look as good as the job the boys did.”

“In Indy Pro 2000, for Christian Rasmussen to win back to back championships is pretty special for him and for us as a team,” Howard continued. “To go into Indy Pro 2000 for our rookie season and win the championship is a big statement from everyone in this organization. Naysayers were saying it was impossible, so it’s always nice to prove them wrong. It goes back to the people, everyone doing their job and executing on a daily basis. When you’ve got a driver like Rasmussen, it’s fun. The kid’s superbly talented. You know he’s always going to give you 110%, barring mistakes, and it’s been amazing. Nothing but good stuff and love for the boy. As far as today’s race, once we knew the circumstances, where we just had to take the green flag, for us it was about evaluating the options and what made the most sense. From a strategic point of view, jeopardizing the car in any way, shape, or form in qualifying wasn’t an option. I know Christian wouldn’t go out there and just cruise around. Even thinking about the parade laps in the race, what we wanted to accomplish was starting last, out of harm's way, where no one can crash into us on a pace lap. The number one goal was to cross that line, take the green flag, and seal the scholarship that he needs to continue with his career. It was a pretty easy decision. It was tough because you know he can go out there and potentially put it on pole, but we kept the big picture in mind. Overall, from Wyatt’s side he’s consistently in that fifth, sixth, seventh position. He showed early in the season that he can put it up front. We, as a team, are constantly working on trying to extract the best out of him on a weekly basis. On Christian’s side it was all about the championship. Watching him out there in that last race, in those tricky conditions, it’s dry, the tires are completely worn out, and all those guys are going at it, banging wheels with each other, and he was just having fun. It was really nice for him to have no pressure going in. Throwing it up the inside and rubbing wheels with the other boys. Credit to all the drivers up front, they put on a great show. It was nice to go from last to third to top the season off.”

The JHDD Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 teams will return to action in 2022. Stay tuned to JHDD’s official social channels and the series’ respective websites in the coming weeks for updates regarding scheduling and driver announcements.

 

 

WHAT THE USF2000 DRIVERS SAID:

#6 Bijoy Garg

Round 17 – P15; Round 18 – P17
“It was a difficult way to end the USF2000 year at Mid-Ohio. After a mistake in Qualifying 1, it was hard to make much forward progress in the race. The pace looked promising in the wet, and we were on for a good finish, but I got hit hard in the rear and got spun. Tough luck, but I know we’ll finish the year strong in F4 at COTA.”

#8 Jackson Lee
Round 17 – P18; Round 18 – P12
“My first season in the Road to Indy is complete and I’m no longer a rookie in the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship! I have improved a lot over the course of the season and am very proud of the team and everyone who has worked to get me to where I am. I can’t wait to get to work for next season. What I’ve learned this season will put me in position to compete for wins next season. I’m also happy with the results of my first rain race in these cars. I was able to get better at finding grip and pushing the car in the wet and bring it home safely while picking up spots. As always, the JHDD crew did a great job preparing the car and myself to battle the wet weather. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend and this season possible.”

WHAT THE INDY PRO 2000 DRIVERS SAID:

#1 Christian Rasmussen

Round 17 – P1; Round 18 – P3
“It means the world to me. Without the scholarships, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have been able to continue without the financial boost to my career. It’s amazing what the people at the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires do for us drivers, and I can only be super grateful for that. Now, I’m looking forward to another year. Hopefully we can be competitive next year. I have a feeling that we will. I’m very much looking forward to that. It’s also the ending of a chapter with Jay Howard Driver Development, but it’s been a really good run. I’ve been here for a lot of years now. It’s my fourth season and I have so many great memories here. I’m very happy with their performance year after year. They’re a huge part of my journey to where I am so far, and I can only be very grateful for them.”

#5 Wyatt Brichacek
Round 17 – P9; Round 18 – P8
“Last weekend on the Road to Indy this year is complete. It was the short format where we go from practice straight into qualifying. We struggled a bit for pace, but the first race was decent. It was fun to go into the second day where it was wet in quali and wet in the race with drying conditions. Overall, a fun Race 2. It was a pretty good season for my first in Indy Pro 2000. We did a bunch of good things, there were a bunch of ups, but also a bunch of downs. I think we can take a bunch of positives, but also some other things with us that we can improve on next year. We really showed some good pace and it’ll make us stronger for next year.”

 

 

 

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