Solid run for DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports at Barber
 April 30, 2022| 
  • Team News

The team’s trio of drivers gain valuable experience in the USF Juniors series, competing through 38 laps of green flag running over two races 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports team came to Round Two of the debut USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires series with a plan to continue the learning curve for its trio of drivers who are making the transition into open-wheel racing.

The Don Conner-led team of Nicholas d’Orlando (Hartsdale, NY), Earl Tucker IV (Branford, Conn.), and Ethan Ho (Los Angeles) each experienced the typical “Alabama roller coaster” weekend at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, as they continued their rookie seasons in the new series that serves as a stepping-stone for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

The series held a formal test session at Barber earlier this month, so the drivers had just a single practice session Thursday morning. D’Orlando led the team, setting the fifth-quickest time just ahead of Ho in sixth, with Tucker 15th. Just two hours later, the cars headed back on track for the lone qualifying session. With only 30 minutes on the clock and no margin for error, a mid-session red flag cost most of the field their quick lap, including d’Orlando, who had only one hot lap on new Cooper tires. When the checkered flag flew, Ho was set to start race one in sixth position, with d’Orlando 10th and Tucker 13th.

Race one

The field took the green flag late Thursday afternoon with temperatures in the low 80s. With the race running completely caution-free, the DCA drivers did their best to worth their way forward. D’Orlando worked his way up to eighth, while Ho, who fell back to ninth on the start, recovered quickly to come back up to seventh. Tucker was also making his way through traffic until contact with another car damaged his suspension. He made a good recovery, coming back to finish 13th.

Race two

Taking their second quickest qualifying lap or quickest race lap (whichever was faster), Ho started the race sixth, with d’Orlando 10th and Tucker 13th. The only yellow flag laps of the weekend came at the start, with two laps under caution for a car off course. At the green flag, d’Orlando fell back at the start to 10th but fought his way back to ninth by lap five, with Ho just ahead in fifth. Tucker steadily moved through the field as well, up to 10th on lap eight, with a goal of seeing all three DCA drivers in the top 10. But unfortunately, on lap 12, he was involved in a three-car tangle going into Turn 9 that sent him into a spin onto the grass. Maintaining his composure, Tucker was able to swiftly get back underway albeit in 15th position.

Ho and d’Orlando ran sixth and seventh late in the race, with d’Orlando able to get by late in the race. He took the checkered flag in sixth position, with Ho in eighth and Tucker in 14th.

At the end of the weekend, team owner Conner was pleased with the gains he saw in each of the three drivers.

“We made significant progress this weekend,” said Conner. “We started a bit behind compared to some of the guys in the field and ended as some of the quickest. We’re working on making the cars better for the drivers, they’re working on improving, so hopefully this all carries forward. This track has some challenging, unusual corners that can take drivers a bit of time to figure out – it’s not so obvious how to go quicker around here. They’re all putting in the work to put it right, and we’re tuning the cars to handle that better.

“We’ll go back to the shop, look at all our notes and data, finalize a testing plan and be ready for VIR,” continued Conner. “Earl is the only one of the drivers who has been there before but we’ll work hard to come off the trucks as fast as we can.”

Next up for DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports and the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires will be the tripleheader at VIRginia International Raceway, June 3-5. Tune into for all the action!


ETHAN HO – No. 71 MEGA Automotive

Race 1: Start – 6th / Finish – 7th

Race 2: Start – 7th / Finish – 8th

Championship standing:  7th

“Overall, I feel like I made strides in race craft, since I don’t have that much experience racing cars. I got up to speed quicker this weekend but I’m still working on finding that pace earlier in the weekend. In race one, I had trouble at the start again, so I’m trying to drive deeper into the corners and be more aggressive. Race two’s start was better, but I was struggling with drivers who were really defending. I’d get up behind guys and lose downforce, and I’m still learning how to handle that. I ran some good times near the end but got shuffled back late. But I got more experience this weekend, pace was good, and I know what I need to work on before VIR.”

EARL TUCKER IV – No. 24 Empire Paving / Equip Sales & Leasing Corp.

Race 1: Start – 13th / Finish – 13th

Race 2: Start – 15th / Finish – 14th

Championship standing:  13th

“I had a strong start in race one and had strong pace through the weekend. It’s a tough track: surprisingly, you feel the elevation here even more than at Ozarks – that was more up and down, while the G forces are more lateral here. It would have been nice to get all three DCA cars in the top 10 – we almost had it in race two. Good, consistent pace. I was coming up on the other DCA guys but had a mistake in turn five which allowed another car to get next to me. We were side-by-side down the back straight and he had an off-and-on and gave me a good spin. But I made good improvement from one day to the next so I’m happy to show that I can hang up with the front guys.”

NICHOLAS D’ORLANDO – No. 61 Focus Project Management

Race 1: Start – 10th / Finish – 8th

Race 2: Start – 11th / Finish – 6th

Championship standing:  11th

“The goal was to get as far forward as I could, get good points and keep the car on the racetrack, and that’s what we did. We had a tough quali so we started back in race one, then had to use our quickest race lap as our quali lap for race two. But we showed good pace and had some good action, so it was a good end to a difficult weekend. This is an interesting track in the corners are so quick, you can get caught off guard easily when drivers dive in, but as long as you keep your head about you, you’ll go forward. And we did!” 

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