HARTSDALE, NY (September 8, 2023) –
The 2023 USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires season has come to an end, and despite a difficult start, Michael d’Orlando racked up some impressive statistics as one of the series’ most prominent drivers and rising talents. The season finale commenced at Portland International Raceway this past weekend, and the 21 -year-old rookie from Hartsdale, NY culminated his year with his fourth victory in dominating fashion, leading the field to the green flag and leading all laps until the checkered flag.
Race 1 on Friday afternoon began with chaos in Turn 1, which is typical at the PIR circuit. Forced to take evasive action to avoid contact with other drivers, d’Orlando took the cut-through on the opening corner. Though an unfortunate penalty was placed on the #1 USF Pro Championships/Priority Technology Holdings/Focused Project Management/Turn 3 Motorsports machine, which sent him to the tail of the entire field, he would ultimately recover to eighth.
d’Orlando’s near-perfect performance in Race 2 was reflective of his championship-winning talent. Quickly jumping out to a solid lead and putting some distance behind him with a gap over two seconds ahead of the rest of the pack, he maintained his pace throughout the 30 lap event. Although some pressure was closing in from behind in the final corners, he didn’t flinch an inch to earn his fourth victory of the season.
"We really had the pace and the potential for all three races here in Portland," explains d'Orlando. "Turn 1 here is at the end of a very wide straightaway that provides an opportunity for drivers to attempt to move forward. It often results in three to five cars wide trying to funnel into a very narrow chicane which often results in chaos. I did what I had to do to stay out of trouble in the first race and it's unfortunate that it resulted in such a severe penalty. But I kept the car as low as possible on the start for Race 2 and it just worked out that I could hold it there without incident. Unfortunately again, Race 3 didn't go as well."
Race 3 was riddled with more chaos in the opening corner as he was forced once again to take the designated runoff route through Turn 1, dropping him down the order as far back as the 12th position. Ultimately, after five (5) safety-car incidents, he was able to make a recovery to finish fifth place.
“I’m really proud of my year in USF Pro 2000. It’s been great working with the Turn 3 Motorsport team and making that #1 USF Pro Championships car the fastest.” states d’Orlando. “We had a great comeback since the beginning of this unfortunate season and what we accomplished is no easy feat. I’m glad we were able to finish the season with the budget restrictions we’ve had. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.
d’Orlando finished fourth overall in the 2023 USF Pro 2000 drivers’ championship. Specifically, he earned victories at four of the nine different circuits this season, the second most victories of any driver in the series, with only four drivers out of 28 competitors having multiple victories at all. In his four-year career in the USF Pro Championships (previously known as the Road to Indy), he has a podium or pole position result on every circuit of competition except one and is one of only three drivers during his tenure with a podium result on each of a street circuit, road course and an oval.