Jacob Douglas heads to the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis this week for his first oval race in the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Douglas sits 15th in the championship after the first seven rounds, though he admits it has been a steep learning curve.
“It’s been a great experience so far and pretty cool to be involved in,” Douglas said.
“It’s definitely been a steep learning curve. I don’t think our results have really shown our true potential.”
USF2000 series is part of the ‘Road to Indy’ pathway, which provides a route for young drivers to get to the IndyCar series.
Douglas has finished just outside the top ten in most of the seven races so far this season, having raced on the streets of St Petersburg in Florida, Barber Motorsport Park and the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“The tracks here are a lot faster than back home in New Zealand with more elevation. My objective is to learn as much as I can, it’s definitely our main priority. We are also targeting top ten finishes as we need to crack this.
“Our race pace is faster and better than our qualifying pace, so we need to improve this. Qualifying better will certainly help with cracking the top ten.”
Douglas races for Exclusive Autosport alongside fellow Kiwi Billy Frazer who currently sits second in the championship just one point behind leader Jagger Jones.
“Exclusive is very well run so I am very thankful for being in the team. The competition here is so high and I have quickly realised that I have much less experience than many of those I am up against and am much younger as well with most over the age of 20.
“Billy (Frazer) has been great in helping out as he can relate to where I am with his rookie season last year. In fact, it’s not too dissimilar. Going back for a second year has a lot of benefits, particularly with the experience and knowing the different circuits.”
The USF2000 series often races alongside the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights on race weekends.
“That is pretty cool,” said Douglas. “Everything is very professional. It is very cool racing alongside both the IndyCar and Indy Lights categories and being amongst their teams”
Race eight of the season will be at the Lucas Oil Raceway two days before the Indianapolis 500.
“I’ve got mixed feelings going to Lucas. We have tested there so have some experience and I won’t need to spend time learning the track. It can get quite scary as you run quite a high line for an oval, close to the wall.
“Being fast there is all about momentum. Essentially, you don’t change gear, so no down-changing. It is a matter of building speed and carrying momentum. It is quite unique and hard to explain.”
The Cooper Tires Freedom 75 race will see USF2000 racing at 11:05 am Saturday NZ time.