USF Pro Championships Head to Grand Prix of Indianapolis
 May 7, 2024| 
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Two 15-Year-Olds Lead Standings as Ladder Series Runs in Support of NTT INDYCAR SERIES

PALMETTO, Fla. – The top two rungs on the USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire driver development ladder return to action this week at the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the traditional Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

A tripleheader event for USF Pro 2000 will comprise one race on Friday afternoon, May 10, followed by two more 25-lap encounters on Saturday. One race each day will make up the agenda for USF2000, with  two ambitious young drivers from the USF Juniors level joining the fray for the first time to gain some valuable experience as they look toward the future.

Johnson Leads the Way in USF Pro 2000
After three drivers representing three different teams claimed a victory in the opening three rounds of the USF Pro 2000 season, 15-year-old rising star Nikita Johnson has stepped forward to secure a handsome advantage in the quest for a career advancement scholarship valued at $681,500 to graduate to INDY NXT in 2025.

Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., scored two wins for VRD Racing from last month’s tripleheader event at NOLA Motorsports Park, near New Orleans, La., breaking the deadlock and taking a 39-point lead in the standings with five of 18 races now in the books. He is a hot favorite to increase that margin this weekend after having claimed two pole positions and three podium finishes in last year’s USF2000 event at the circuit.

TJ Speed Motorsports’ Hunter Yeany, from Virginia Beach, Va., currently lies second in the title-chase following a breakthrough weekend at NOLA which netted his maiden victory as well as a pole position and three podium finishes.

Already eight different drivers have recorded at least one podium finish this year. Christian Brooks (Pabst Racing), from Santa Clarita, Calif., maintains third place in points despite a challenging weekend at NOLA where his two teammates, Jace Denmark, who recently moved to the Indianapolis area, and last year’s USF2000 champion Simon Sikes, from Augusta, Ga., both recorded their first top-three results of the young season.

Canadian Mac Clark has been a model of consistency for DEForce Racing with four top-six finishes, while Australian Lochie Hughes seeks to recapture the form that earned him a win and a second-place finish for Turn 3 Motorsport in the season-opening event on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mexico’s Ricardo Escotto has displayed strong pace this year with BN Racing without commensurate results, but is excited about his prospects at Indianapolis after scoring an opportunistic first-ever win last year in changeable weather conditions.

A pair of one-hour test sessions followed by 30 minutes of official practice will commence on-track activities for the VP Racing Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon, May 9. Next up will be a 20-minute qualifying session at 8:40 a.m. EDT on Friday which will determine the starting positions for the opening race at 3:15 p.m. The final two races on Saturday will see green flags at 7:55 a.m. and 12 noon.

Garcia on a Roll in USF2000
Three straight wins provided a perfect start to the USF2000 season for Pabst Racing’s Max Garcia. The 15-year-old from Coconut Grove, Fla., also has started from the pole position in four of the five races held to date.

Even so, Garcia has eked out only a 16-point edge over Evagoras Papasavvas, from Loveland, Ohio, who has finished on the podium in each race and has every intention of claiming his first win of the season in his Jay Howard Driver Development team’s hometown race.

Garcia and Papasavvas will start the Continental Tire Grand Prix of Indianapolis as the firm favorites for top honors, although they face stiff competition from a variety of challengers.

Prime among them will be Garcia’s teammate Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., who claimed his maiden victory one year ago on the Indianapolis road course and recently added a second career win at NOLA Motorsports Park.

Canadian Nico Christodoulou also will have high expectations after winning the most recent race at NOLA for VRD Racing, which swept a hat-trick of wins at Indianapolis in 2022.

Others to watch include the Exclusive Autosport pair of Joey Brienza, from Golden, Colo., who claimed his first pole position at NOLA, and Thomas Schrage, from Bethel, Ohio, who recently made a successful foray to his former stomping ground by winning all three FRP F1600 Championship Series race at Mid-Ohio.

A strong local contingent is headed by Indianapolis, Ind., native Elliot Cox, who began his season with a brace of top-four finishes for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development, along with former Team USA Scholarship recipient Ayrton Houk (DC Autosport), from McCordsville, Ind., and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Tanner DeFabis, from Avon, Ind.

In addition to the championship regulars, two drivers whose primary commitment this year is in USF Juniors Presented by Continental Tire – Exclusive Autosport’s Evan Cooley, from Frankfort, Ill., and Giovanni Cabrera, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – are stepping up for the weekend to make their USF2000 debuts.

The newcomers will have two hours of testing on Thursday afternoon to familiarize themselves with the track and the car prior to 30 minutes of official practice at 5:10 p.m. The lone qualifying session at 7:55 a.m. on Friday will set the grid for the first of two races at 12:10 p.m. Race Two is due to see the green flag at 8:55 a.m. on Saturday.

Full live coverage can be found on the free USF Pro Championships App, YouTube channel and respective series’ websites, usfpro2000.com and usf2000.com.
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