In one of the most exciting and intense championship finales in series history, Michael d’Orlando may have been the underdog heading into the triple-header weekend at Portland International Raceway, but when the dust settled he stood on the top step of the podium and center stage as the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion!
d’Orlando arrived in Portland sitting second in the championship by 23 points and a mere two points ahead of third spot. So when a mistake in the second of only three practice sessions on Thursday prevented him from gaining valuable experience on the circuit that no one on the USF2000 grid has ever competed on before, things did not look very promising. Then following that up with a disappointing 9th place qualifying effort on Friday morning, while the championship leader and third place drivers were sitting on the front row, he had his work cut out for him. But it’s not over until it’s really over.
The championship amongst the top three drivers really started to shake up when d’Orlando brought home a 7th place result in race one, the championship leader deeper in the field as a result of unforced errors, and the third championship contender bringing home the win. This moved d’Orlando to third in the championship battle but now with a narrower margin of only 20 points between the three competitors. Lining up on the outside of row 3 in sixth position for Race 2, it was critical to survive any trouble that tends to result in the first corner at Portland International. So when the two championship leaders came together in an awesome display in the first corner, d’Orlando put it in gear to ensure a solid fourth place finish. This only made the tension greater in the championship fight with now only a seven point spread between them, and d’Orlando in third.
The final race of the weekend would bring the 2022 season to a close in epic fashion. Once again the top two leaders were locking up the front row for the start, d’Orlando was in the 6th place starting position, and the pressure was mounting. Just moments after the green flag flew, the two championship leaders would ultimately be in a series of collisions rendering them both back to pitlane for serious repairs . Knowing the first corner chaos could also be catastrophic for himself, d’Orlando strategically maneuvred his way through the opening corners avoiding contact. Now finding himself in the 3rd slot, where he would follow in line for the next four laps behind the safety car, things were going to get really intense with his teammate Nicky Hays right in front of him and the championship leader back in line at the rear of the field before the restart. Slipping by Hays at the green, and the race-leader forced to serve a drive-through penalty in pitlane for causing the mess at the start of the race, d’Orlando now found himself leading the 20-car field. For the next 20 laps, it was a constant calculation of d’Orlando setting and maintaining the pace out front, his two teammates of Hays and Jagger Jones in two of the three slots behind him, and a serious charge through the field commencing by the championship leader. But when the checkered flag flew, d’Orlando would maintain his poise to bring home his 4th race win of the season and the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship title with a scholarship worth over $400,000 to help advance up the Road to Indy driver development series to the IndyPro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2023.
“First of all, I’d like to thank Dominic [Cape], Nick [Cape] and everyone at Cape Motorsports for the past 3 years and I’m so proud to be the championship sendoff as they complete their 13-year career in the Road to Indy and make the move up to Indy Lights” says d’Orlando. “What a rollercoaster weekend it was, with my mistake in practice and a 9th place qualifying spot, but the #4 Totality Wallet USF2000 car was fast and precise. Maybe we weren’t the fastest lap time, but we made all the right choices and stayed in it throughout the entire weekend. We had to focus on pushing through and keep our heads up right through to the end. After all, the season is 18 races long so it ain’t over ‘til its over, as they say. We knew heading into the final race that we needed a win. To make that happen and to take the championship had to be the best moment of my life. I’m super excited to take the next step in my career to Indy Pro thanks to Road to Indy’s Andersen Promotions’ and Cooper Tires scholarship program.”
“We’ll take a few days to let it all sink in and celebrate but will be back to work quickly.” continues d’Orlando. “There’s so much to be done just to get back on track next season.”
Following up on the vice-championship title for d’Orlando in 2021, his 2022 season statistics are quite impressive. He had a series-high 14 top-five finishes, eight podiums including four wins, five pole positions, three fastest race laps, tied for the most races lead, and the driver with the most laps lead all season, including a weekend sweep of the Lucas Oil Freedom 75 oval race. The Championship consisted of 18 races over eight events that took place in two countries over six states and one province, with a total of over 30 drivers for the season and an average race of 20 cars entered. All the races were as a support series for the NTT INDYCAR Series and the eight events had total combined attendance of over 600,000 spectators. d'Orlando Enterprises would like to send a special thanks to all our partners for the 2022 season, including DB Collaborative, Focused Project Management, Rising Star Racing, MotorMedia USA, Pierpont Mechanical, MG Engineering, Dino Luzzi Energy Drink, UFC Gym - Mamaroneck NY, Signature Elevator Maintenance, AME Inc, Celtic General Contractors, LMEC Electric, JVN Systems Inc, Totality Wallet and Sumcoin.
Stay tuned to Michael d’Orlando’s social media and website (www.dorlandoracing.com) for continued updates and more information. Follow him on social media for all the latest information on Instagram (dorlandoracing, michaeldorlandoofficial), Facebook (Michael d'Orlando Racing) and Twitter (dorlandoracing and michaeldOrland1).
d'Orlando Enterprises LLC has developed unique and remarkable VIP experiences, behind the scenes access, and other entertainment opportunities for their partners at all of these events including the Indy500. To be a part of our growing network of partners and for more information on these experiences, our drivers or alternative partnership opportunities, contact Art Wilmes of Rising Star Racing at email@example.com or Sherri d'Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org.