Lochie Hughes Wins St. Pete Season Opener from Pole, Second in Race 2
 March 12, 2024| 
  • Team News
Dempsey
Danny Dyszelski Earns Third Place Finish after Qualifying Second for Both Races

St. Petersburg, Fla. – After claiming the first Continental Tire Pole Award of the season by over .3 seconds, Australian driver Lochie Hughes won the Foundation Building Materials USF Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener for Turn 3 Motorsport, leading every lap from green to checker. The victory was not only a repeat result for Hughes – who won this race in USF2000 last year – but also gave the team its third consecutive pole and win on the 1.8-mile, 14 turn street circuit.
 
Hughes gained a comfortable lead early on in Race 1, maintaining his position through several yellow flag periods and stretching the gap to second place by almost three seconds at one point. After 24 laps of racing, the 21-year-old took the win and cemented a second pole position for Race 2 the following day.
 
Race 2 saw Hughes once again pull ahead of the field at the start and begin the hunt for a second race win. Two yellow flags halted the race on Laps 7 and 17, and on the Lap 19 restart, Hughes lost his advantage to the #17 car of Nikita Johnson with just six laps to go. Still, Hughes brought the #44 Turn 3 Motorsport car home in second place and came away from the weekend as the USF Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Continental Tire points leader.

#44 Lochie Hughes // USF Pro 2000 Private Wealth Planning

“It was a great weekend here at the St. Petersburg season opener,” said Hughes. “I couldn’t be happier to end my first race weekend with Turn 3 Motorsport with two pole positions, a race win, and a second place finish. I can’t thank Turn 3 Motorsport enough. They gave me an awesome car, and I just had to bring it home. It’s also great to be leaving the weekend as the points leader. I am very happy to start the season like this and looking forward to getting to the next round at NOLA next month. We were fastest there at Spring Training, so hopefully we can keep that momentum going into the next race weekend.”

Danny Dyszelski also had a standout weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg. The 15-year-old rookie qualified second for both races of the doubleheader weekend, giving him his highest qualifying result to date and Turn 3 Motorsport its first front row lockout in the USF Pro Championships ladder.
 
With a strong group of contenders at the front of the field in Race 1, Dyszelski was forced to give up a couple of positions going into Turn 1, sliding into fifth on the opening lap. Unfortunately, a shifting issue arose during the race, forcing Dyszelski to surrender his position and finish P19.
 
Race 2 served as redemption for the young American. After a great start, Dyszelski slotted into the third spot and focused on earning his first podium in the USF Pro 2000 series. On the Lap 19 restart, Dyszelski briefly lost the third position to the #19 car of Christian Brooks, but it was on Lap 21 of 25 that Dyszelski saw an opportunity to regain the spot, diving into Turn 1 to overtake Brooks in an impressive move and placing the #3 Vera Guitars / Formula Imports / Charlotte Mechanical car on the podium for the first time.

#3 Danny Dyszelski // USF Pro 2000 Vera Guitars / Formula Imports / Charlotte Mechanical

“I had a great weekend in St. Petersburg with Turn 3 Motorsport,” said Dyszelski. “I was very grateful to the team for giving me an amazing car, and it was awesome to come away with my first podium in USF Pro 2000. Hopefully this is the first of many this season, and I’m looking forward to getting to the next round at NOLA in just a few weeks.”

Ethan Ho qualified just outside the top 10 in P12 for Saturday’s Race 1 in St. Petersburg. The 18-year-old made good progress throughout the 24-lap race, moving up to a 10th-place finish for the first of two races.
 
Race 2 didn’t work out quite as well for the Taiwanese-American rookie, Only seven laps in, Ho was forced into the wall by the #27 car of Hunter Yeany, then plowed into with a second hit by the #32 car of Shawn Rashid, destroying the #68 Fubon Bank / Triple S / KRC / Molecule / JiuZhou car and retiring Ho in 20th position.

#68 Ethan Ho // USF Pro 2000 Fubon Bank / Triple S / KRC / Molecule / JiuZhou

“It was a disappointing finish for my first USF Pro 2000 event,” said Ho. “We qualified mid-field and were making progress through the races. Unfortunately, in Race 2 we got driven into a wall a few laps in only to end the weekend with a DNF and a damaged car. I think there is definitely more potential to unlock, and I just need to focus and bounce back for the next round at NOLA in April.”

Adam Fitzgerald’s first visit to a street course presented a new challenge for the 21-year-old who only had two on track sessions to become acclimated to the circuit before going into the first of two races. From a P17 starting position, Fitzgerald moved up to P15 by the end of Race 1 and brought the #2 Galway Hooker car back with no damage after navigating 23 laps of the unforgiving track.
 
With his first ever street race now under his belt, Fitzgerald started Race 2 in P18 and with a bit more experience. That extra bit of acquaintance paid off for the Irishman as he completed all 25 laps and ultimately crossed the finish line in P14.

#2 Adam Fitzgerald // USF Pro 2000 Galway Hooker

“I expected more from myself this weekend when considering the performance of the team who did a great job,” said Fitzgerald. “I'll put that one down to it being my first street course and not racing for almost a year, but that excuse is now expired. I expect to be fighting at the front in NOLA and that's what I'll be working toward with the team!”

It was also the first visit to the streets of St. Petersburg for Tyke Durst who qualified P14 for Race 1, only .7 seconds off the fastest time. Ready for the challenge, the 20-year-old set to work to gain on track positions. Unfortunately, that mission was cut short as the rookie cut his tire on debris while driving through the aftermath of another early crash, sending him into the pits for a replacement and to the back of the grid for the restart.
 
Unfortunately for Durst, the race didn’t improve from there as he hit the wall at Turn 4 going for a pass, ending his race early. Race 2 turned out a much better result for the American as he completed all 25 laps and was able to secure a P16 finish for the #33 FHI / Relay Payments / Drive Toward a Cure car to round out the weekend.

#33 Tyke Durst // USF Pro 2000 FHI / Relay Payments / Drive Toward a Cure

“My debut weekend in St. Petersburg was very rough,” said Durst. “A lot of things happened that were unexpected. Qualifying was a bit of a mess since I was still trying to learn the track. Race 1 had a good start until a wreck in front of me cut my tire. In Race 2, I turned back through Turn 2 a bit too quickly and lost a lot of front downforce. One thing I can be satisfied with though is the effort that me and the team put in. On to NOLA in a few weeks.”

Team Owner, Peter Dempsey

“St. Petersburg was very good to us again in 2024,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “To have now won the first race of the year four of the last five years is awesome. I’m so proud of all the drivers and crew. It’s a massive challenge to run a five car program at the top level, and we showed that it hasn’t hurt our performance as a team. If anything, it’s made us stronger.”
 
“Lochie (Hughes) and Danny (Dyszelski) really showed up for us in qualifying,” continued Dempsey. “Both of them did a great job over the weekend. With it being the first time at the event for our other three drivers, we knew it was always going to be challenging for them. They have now got that experience and learned a lot of what is expected of them. This will only make them stronger moving forward. A huge thanks to my wife and co-owner Mandy and to all of our team members for the massive effort we have all put in to get us to this point. Now, we will focus on NOLA and keep pushing harder than ever to keep our level up as a team.”
 
Up next for Turn 3 Motorsport and the USF Pro Championships is a tripleheader weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park just outside of New Orleans from April 5-7.

To stay up to date on Turn 3 Motorsport, follow the team on social media using the handle @turn3motorsport.
 
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