Jacob Douglas enjoying tough USF2000 season
Jacob Douglas this week heads to the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis and his first taste of oval racing in the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The Christchurch teenager currently sits 15th on the points table after 7/18 rounds this season and admits it has been quite a steep learning curve, however, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s been a great experience so far and pretty cool to be involved in,” commented Douglas. “It’s definitely been a steep learning curve. I don’t think our results have really shown our true potential.”
The USF2000 Series is part of the ‘Road to Indy’, the pathway for young drivers to reach the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 race in which fellow Kiwi drivers Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin compete.
So far Douglas has raced in this US single seater category on the streets of St Petersburg in Florida, the Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama and the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. In all seven races the 16-year-old has finished just outside the top ten and now looks to move up in the overall rankings.
“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 is driving for the very experienced Exclusive Autosport alongside fellow Kiwi and returning USF2000 driver Billy Frazer. Frazer is currently sitting second overall 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.”
Douglas is one of five Kiwi drivers currently competing in either the NTT IndyCar Series (Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin), Indy Lights (Hunter McElrea) or the USF2000 championship. All three series commonly compete at the same tracks on the same weekend.
“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”
The eighth race of the season takes place at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis later this week, two days before the 106th running of 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 drivers have two 45-minute practice sessions before qualifying on Thursday 26 May 2022. A further 15-minute practice run takes place on race day before an evening race that gets underway at 19:05 Friday 27 May local time (11:05am Saturday NZ time).