Denmark continue Pabst streak with dramatic win in Toronto
Jace Denmark celebrates after a dramatic victory in Toronto. (Photo Al Steinberg)
TORONTO — Jace Denmark continued his rich streak of form this morning on the streets around Exhibition Place in Toronto.
The 18-year-old driver from Scottsdale, Arizona remained in control – just right – throughout an action-packed 20-lap Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Toronto. However, there was plenty of drama in his wake after a late full-course caution set the stage for a one-lap race to the checkered flag.
Myles Rowe looked set to extend his lead in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship by following in the wheel tracks of teammate Pabst Racing, until his closest rival for the title, Michael from Orlando, attempted a pass for the second place at turn 8 on the last lap. Intense contact cost both contenders a podium and saw DEForce Racing teammates Thomas Nepveu and Dylan Christie take second and third.
“I’m really happy to have won after everything that happened there,” Denmark said. “It was a very stressful race, even more than usual. I’m glad I did today, calculated defense playing a big part. I lost it at the end yesterday, so coming back today and getting a win helps us end the season on a high note with just three races to go. I can’t wait to be in Portland.
Denmark started from inside the front row of the grid after winning their second Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying on Saturday morning. Fellow Scottsdale, Arizona resident Jagger Jones lined up in the No. 1 spot with the championship’s top two contenders, Rowe and Orlando, together at No. 2.
An aggressive move from Rowe lifted him into second place at the end of the first lap, but the top four remained virtually stranded as they pulled away from Nepveu in fifth.
Rowe tried to make a pass for the lead at turn three on lap 13 and when that was pushed back Jones saw an opportunity to challenge Rowe for second as they came out of the tight hairpin. Unfortunately for Jones, a slight contact with Rowe dislodged his car’s front wing, leaving him with an unwieldy car for the remainder of the race.
The incident also served as a delay for d’Orlando, who then claimed the fastest lap of the race as he worked to make up the deficit of the two Pabst cars.
Then came the final plot twist, when d’Orlando’s younger brother Nicholas crashed his Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-22 into turn five to bring out the warning flags.
The damage was cleared with enough time for a final green-flag race lap, and although the apex order remained the same for much of the lap, d’Orlando saw an opportunity under braking for the turn. 8 and dived inside. The pair made a big contact on the way out. The two were able to continue, although Nepveu and Christie took advantage of the scrum to move up to second and third.
Both DEForce teammates were thrilled, with Nepveu earning his second podium of the season and his first in front of a Canadian crowd and Christie finally making his first trip to the podium. Christie also won the Tilton Hard Charger Award after moving up eight positions from 11th on the grid.
D’Orlando and Rowe were able to hold on to fourth and fifth, with Jones remaining sixth, also with a damaged car.
Denmark’s impressive victory earned Augie Pabst the eighth PFC award of the year as owner of the winning car. It also moved him into the heart of the title mix.