PALMETTO, Fla. – This year’s Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the middle step on the highly acclaimed Road to Indy open-wheel driver development program, will reach its culmination this weekend with the Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Portland.
The final three races of an 18-round season will be held on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway road course, situated just a few miles from downtown Portland, Ore., in conjunction with the NTT IndyCar Series headline event.
At stake is a scholarship valued at almost $615,000 to ensure graduation into Indy Lights, the top step of the ladder, in 2023.
After 15 races, rookie Louis Foster is on the cusp of clinching that prize. The 19-year-old from Basingstoke, England, made a pivotal decision at the end of last season to pursue a career in North America, having already earned a name for himself in a variety of European open-wheel formulas, and after joining forces with the Canadian-owned Exclusive Autosport team, he has grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Foster’s tally of six wins and four pole positions has taken him to a commanding 77-point lead in the point standings with only 99 points available during the triple-header finale – 30 for each race win plus bonus points for pole position, fastest race lap and leading most laps. In reality, Foster needs merely one 11th-place finish from the three races to put the title beyond the reach of his adversaries.
While Foster looks to have the championship almost within his grasp, the battle behind him rages on following one of the most competitive seasons in the series’ storied history dating back to 1999. Seven different drivers have scored at least one win, and at least five have a solid opportunity to grasp second place in the points table. All seven full-time teams have earned a minimum of two podium finishes.
Second position currently is held by Reece Gold, who will celebrate his 18th birthday on Friday, September 2. Gold has two wins and three poles to his name but is shadowed in the points chase by fellow teenager Nolan Siegel, who also has won twice, and Gold’s Juncos Hollinger Racing teammate Enaam Ahmed, who is still searching for that elusive first victory.
Braden Eves and Josh Green also remain firmly in the mix. Both have scored one win and trail Gold by only 32 and 35 points, respectively.
Another contender to watch will be Eves’ teammate, Salvador De Alba, who has enjoyed a remarkable first season of open-wheel racing after previously achieving success in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series as champion in 2021. De Alba, 22, already has won twice, including at the most recent oval track event at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis, Mo.