James Roe captured his first Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires win during the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The rookie driver delivered a remarkable drive in the 25-lap race that saw him pull off bold passes under wet conditions to get to the lead and earn an impressive maiden victory in the competitive Road to Indy series.
Qualifying for the race happened under rainy weather conditions, a familiar and welcome challenge for the Irish-born driver. After qualifying sixth, Roe was set on fighting for results in the afternoon race. On the opening lap, the rookie slotted into fourth position right before a yellow flag came out. Roe got an excellent restart on Lap 3 and soon worked his way up to P3. Another caution came out on Lap 9, allowing Roe to prepare for another charge on the next restart. Once the race was underway again, Roe utilized his strong exits at Turn 2 to set himself up for outside passes at Turn 4 to take second position, then the lead in the second half of the race.
Once Roe was out in front, he began distancing himself from the rest of the field, gaining over a three second lead by Lap 19. Yet another yellow flag came out with just a few laps to go, and Roe readied himself for one final restart. With an excellent restart on Lap 21, Roe was in the clear to finish the race strongly and claim a well-earned win.
In addition to his win, Roe was also awarded with the Tilton Hard Charger Award and $1,000 prize at last night’s Championship Celebration for gaining the most positions on track during the course of the 2021 race season.
Roe ended the year with one win, one pole position, ten top-ten finishes, and 243 points in the driver’s championship.
“I couldn’t be happier to get the win at Mid-Ohio,” said James Roe. “It was probably the best drive of my career. We had phenomenal pace in such tricky conditions. The team did a fantastic job, and I did my job, so it was a true group effort. I am just so happy to finish the season on the top step of the podium for all my partners and sponsors. They all make this possible for me. This is just the start of many more wins and podiums.”
“I’m extremely proud of James for getting his first race win on the Road to Indy,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “As a person, he deserves this win more than anyone else, not just because of how he drives but also because of the work he does outside of the car just to be able to put himself in the race car. James is the hardest working driver I’ve seen in the Road to Indy in many years, and as an Irish team owner, I’m extremely happy to be able to give an Irishman his first win in the series.”
“The race was tricky with the track conditions drying each lap,” continued Dempsey. “We made a few changes from qualifying in the setup and made sure we gave James the tools he needed to give him the confidence to push the car to its limits. You could see during the race he was extremely confident, and that allowed him to push to the front and make some very good passes for the lead. I’m so thankful for all the help and support the crew has gave us throughout the weekend as we battled some issues on Saturday, but James definitely redeemed himself and the team on Sunday.”
“I want to say a special thanks to all of the crew members that worked with us this year,” continued Dempsey. “None of our success would have been possible without each individual playing their part. I’m grateful to have assembled the team we have, and I’m looking forward to building on that next season.”