HARTSDALE, NY (May 22, 2023) –
In an eventful weekend of the USF Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Michael d’Orlando managed to set race-winning pace and overcame challenging track conditions & tire strategies to bring home his first podium in the USF Pro 2000 series in Rounds 4 & 5 at “The Racing Capitol of the World”, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.
d’Orlando started the weekend on Thursday showing consistently in the top three in all three sessions for the single practice day. But it was the fickle Indianapolis weather on Friday that would bring the biggest challenge. Amid quickly changing track conditions from the Friday morning rain, the field got their early Qualifying laps in on rain tires but made the dash to pit lane in the final minutes for a quick tire change to slick tires and ultimately get back out for the fastest runs on the drying track surface. d’Orlando jumped to the top of the charts quickly and ultimately finished in a fourth place qualifying spot.
The fickle Indianapolis weather continued later that afternoon as Race 1 commenced. d’Orlando quickly jumped out to the second position in the opening laps and continued to effortlessly maintain the fast pace and put some distance behind him and the leader, while also managing his tire temps. But a few laps later, the rain came in a bizarre fashion, with some parts of the massive 14-turn 2.4 miles circuit soaking with precipitation quickly, and other parts of the circuit barely enough to call it actual rain. Ultimately, the conditions forced series officials to call a red flag and send the 20-car field to pitlane for a mandatory tire change and declare the remainder of the event a “wet race”. As quickly as the rain started, the sporadic rain stopped right as the green flag flew on the restart, which now put pressure on lead group, including d’Orlando, to attempt to manage the pace out front, on mixed track conditions with a wet tire compound. d’Orlando took the lead as the laps wound down and ultimately managed to hold off most of the drafting field behind him to finish third, and earn his first podium of the 2023 season.
“Since the start of the first practice, we were one of the fastest cars on track.” states d’Orlando. “and a solid qualifying position gave us a good shot for the win, and we almost had it. The changing conditions gave me the opportunity to pull away but in the end we just didn’t have the grip [to lead that long] but I’m happy that we finally got the podium we’ve worked so hard for.”
Saturday morning was a dry day but Race 2 that morning continued to bring it’s own set of challenges. Lining up in the third spot for the green flag, d’Orlando quickly slotted himself into second on the opening laps and the two leaders would once again put some distance behind them. Just a few laps in, an incident deeper in the field resulted in the safety car, bunching all drivers back together again in single file for the restart on Lap 5. Disaster struck when the green flag flew as the leader was late on the throttle and d’Orlando had to take quick evasive action to avoid running into him. This allowed several cars from behind to go around them both and d’Orlando slid back to eighth. As he began his charge forward again, another driver aggressively missed the breaking point into IMS’s tricking Turn 1 and slammed into the side of d’Orlando’s #1 Turn 3 USF Pro Championships/Priority Technology Holdings/Focused Project Management/Digital Building Solutions machine. Although still able to move forward after the hard hit, the damage sent him to pitlane for some quick temporary repairs before returning to the track to complete his race. He would ultimately finish the race three-laps down and a final position of 14th.
“The whole race was frustrating for me.” continues d’Orlando. “I had to swerve out of the way on the restart to avoid slamming into the back of his [the leader’s] gear box and then chaos ensued after that when I got plowed into in the exist of Turn 1. I’m definitely not happy about it but we continued to show speed and prove that we can run up front and contend for podiums. I’m looking forward to the next round at IRP [Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park] with this team and this car next week.”
d’Orlando and Turn 3 Motorsport will return to action in the USF Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires for the Carb Nite Classic Freedom 90 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on May 25 & 26. This is the only oval circuit on the 2023 schedule for d'Orlando. He is the reigning champion in the USF 2000 series as the back-to-back winner in the Carb Nite Classic Freedom 75.
Join our network and be a part of something special. d'Orlando Enterprises LLC ("DELLC") would like to send a special thanks to our partners at Digital Building Solutions, Priority Technology Holdings, Focused Project Management, Dino Luzzi Energy Drink, DB Collaborative, Turn 3 Motorsport, Pierpont Mechanical, UFC Gym - Mamaroneck NY, Celtic General Contractors and Rising Star Racing.
Where to watch: All USF Pro 2000 events are streamed online at www.usfpro2000.comor download the USF Pro Championships app.
How to Help: Anyone can help the DELLC drivers continue their careers in motorsports in a variety of ways. As Michael continues his pursuit in the USF Pro 2000 series this year, he is working to advance his career up to the 2024 Firestone Indy NXT series (owned and operated by Penske Entertainment Corp which also owns and operates the NTT IndyCar series). Indy NXT is broadcast live and on-demand on NBC's streaming service Peacock. For corporate partnerships, please contact Sherri d’Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org or Art Wilmes at email@example.com.
DELLC's partnership with Priority Technology Holdings provide businesses with better payment processing services, including merchant processing, payables, early pay, business banking and Lines Loans & MCAs, while also providing additional funding support for future motorsports talent. Visit www.priorityanddellc.com or Contact Us for details.
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About d'Orlando Enterprises LLC: d'Orlando Enterprises LLC, also known as "DELLC", is a driver management, marketing, event planning and activation company with specific focus in the amateur and professional motorsports industry. We develop unique and remarkable VIP experiences, behind the scenes access, and other entertainment opportunities for partners and corporations at race events across the country, including the Indy500.