Kyle Kirkwood on IndyCar fast track after USF2000 championship

Kyle Kirkwood on IndyCar fast track after USF2000 title

Kyle Kirkwood ran his winning streak to nine in the USF2000 series.

Kyle Kirkwood on IndyCar fast track after USF2000 championship

19-year-old clinches crown, runs winning streak to nine

July 30, 2018

Kyle Kirkwood certainly knows how to climb a ladder. The 19-year-old from Jupiter, Florida wrapped up the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with a win on July 27 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kirkwood then tripled his weekend fun with wins Saturday and Sunday at Mid-Ohio to sweep the tripleheader and run his USF2000 winning streak to nine. The championship is worth a $390,000 scholarship from Mazda to be used toward a ride next year in the next rung of Mazda Road to Indy ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tire.

“(Winning the 2018 championship) is completely unexpected,” Kirkwood said. "When I came into the championship this year, I had no expectations and wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I only did one test weekend going into the year, so right now this means to me what the team can do and what I can do as a driver… I’m still trying to absorb all of it really.”

With over $2 million dollars in Mazda driver development scholarships, the program allows the championship-winning drivers from all three rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy to climb to the next step on IndyCar's official ladder system. For most drivers, the scholarship plays a pivotal role in the future of their racing career.

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“When Kyle came to the USF2000 Shootout a couple of years ago, he narrowly lost to Oliver Askew,” said Kyle Kimball, Mazda Motorsports operations manager. “We knew at that point in time that Kyle Kirkwood is going to be a star and he was going to shine on the Mazda Road to Indy.”

The driver of the No. 8 Cape Motorsports Mazda USF-17 joins fellow Cape Motorsports championship-winning alumni Bryan Sellers, Bobby Wilson, JR Hildebrand, Petri Suvanto, Matthew Brabham, Florian Lattore, Nico Jamin, Anthony Martin and Oliver Askew. 

“The Mazda Road to Indy is not only about training inside the car, but also outside the car,” said Kimball. “We tell the young men and women that their behavior and attitude and the way they conduct themselves outside of the car is more important than what they do inside the car and on the track.

“We saw his shining personality in 2016 (at the shootout) and to look forward to 2019 and know that Kyle Kirkwood will be representing the Mazda brand puts us very much at ease.”

Kirkwood has been a model of consistency this season. In the two races he didn't win, he finished fifth and second. His average start of 2.2 and his average finish is 1.4. 

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