Braden Eves Leads Indy Pro 2000 Preseason Testing

By Christopher DeHarde

Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves can claim the honors of being the fastest Indy Pro 2000 driver at the 2020 Road to Indy spring training at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Picking up where he left off after winning the 2019 USF2000 championship, Eves wheeled the No. 1 Tatuus PM-18 around the 2.21 mile road course with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 18.4405 seconds to average 101.427 mph. Eves turned 27 laps across all five sessions, his fastest lap being in session three.

“We’ve done a lot of off-season testing and this test just confirms that we’re quick,” said Eves in a series release. “We had some mechanical issues this weekend that were out of our control, but better here than St. Pete. This series is super competitive and anything can happen but it’s good to see where we are compared to the rest of the field. The pace is good, and the car feels amazing, so I’m feeling good heading into the first race weekend.

“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel as though I was driving very well heading into that first weekend last season and I didn’t feel confident, but this year I have the utmost confidence in my team and in myself. I’ve done it before; I know I can do it again. It is so cool to win in St. Pete and you can get some good momentum right out of the gate.”

Eves won six USF2000 races last year and will be looking to continue that form next week in St. Petersburg.

Second in the combined results was Parker Thompson, the third year driver turning a fastest lap of 1 minute, 18.7347 seconds. Thompson is driving for DEForce Racing and is hoping to improve on his third place finish in last year’s Indy Pro 2000 standings.

“I’m happy with what we’ve done this weekend, but it’s Spring Training,” noted Thompson. “I’m ready to get to St. Pete and start racing. I had two wins and a new track record last year and I feel as though I’m in an even better position this year. I’m glad this test is done because I’m ready to get to St. Pete.”

Behind Thompson was 2019 USF2000 runner-up Hunter McElrea. McElrea is racing for Pabst Racing Services, the same team he drove for in 2019. McElrea’s fastest lap was turned in 1 minute, 18.7665 seconds as the New Zealand native is looking to correct what went wrong in 2019.

“We’d like to be P1 but we’re happy with the car and that’s the most important thing,” said McElrea. “We just chipped away at it and made the car better and better throughout the weekend. The boys did a great job to get us to this point but there’s plenty of more work to be done before St. Pete. I am less nervous this year than last year – last year’s race was my first USF2000 and Road to Indy race, and my first street track. It was a good weekend, with double podiums so I’m looking for even better this year.”

The 2020 Indy Pro 2000 grid currently has 15 confirmed drivers, and with the first practice session at St. Petersburg still a few days away, there is still time for more announcements. The first practice session will be at 12:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 12th.

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