Yeany Becomes Third Different USF Pro 2000 Winner in as Many Races
 April 6, 2024| 
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NEW ORLEANS, La. – The new USF Pro 2000 Presented by Continental Tire season is off to another intensely competitive start, evidenced by Hunter Yeany this afternoon becoming the third different winner – representing three different teams – from the opening three races of the campaign.

Driving for TJ Speed Motorsports, Yeany, from Virginia Beach, Va., added his name to the roster following a hard-fought race in which he muscled past polesitter Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), of Brownsburg, Ind., on the opening lap and then held off a determined challenge in the closing stages from VRD Racing’s Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla.

Denmark had to be content with a third-place finish.

It was a different story earlier in the day as Denmark emerged fastest from a close-fought qualifying session – which saw the top 12 drivers separated by less than half a second – to claim his first Continental Tire Pole Award since Sebring last year. Yeany occupied the other position on the front row of the grid with Taiwanese-American Ethan Ho (Turn 3 Motorsport), from Los Angeles, Calif., and last year’s USF2000 champion Simon Sikes (Pabst Racing), from Augusta, Ga., making up Row Two.

A fraught opening few corners saw Yeany battle his way to the front following some wheel-to-wheel contact with Denmark at Turn Three, while Sikes fought his way past Ho into third. Unfortunately, Ho’s hopes of a high finish were dashed just a couple of laps later when he clipped the wall at the exit of Turn 13 and spun off the road with damaged suspension.

A couple more incidents served to break up the race into a series of short sprints, caution periods and restarts. On each occasion Yeany managed to successfully defend his position to ensure a well-judged victory.

After starting a lowly eighth on the grid after making a mistake in qualifying, Johnson – a winner last month on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. – worked his way steadily forward during the early stages of the 18-lap race. He was able to sneak ahead of Denmark at Turn Three soon after one of the restarts, but there was no way past Yeany. As a consolation, Johnson, the only driver to finish among the top four in each of the three races, has now moved to the top of the championship standings.

Danny Dyszelski, from Belmont, N.C, also impressed for Turn 3 Motorsport by battling his way from 12th on the grid to fourth, including a late pass on Canadian Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) with a couple of laps remaining.

Jay Howard Driver Development's Frankie Mossman, from Newport Beach, Calif, earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after rising from 19th on the grid to ninth at  the finish.

The PFC Award went to Tim Neff of TJ Speed Motorsports as the winning team owner.

The Continental Tire Grand Prix of Louisiana will continue tomorrow, April 7, with another pair of 18-lap races with the green flags set to fly at 10:00 a.m. and 2:15 p.m CDT. Yeany will be in prime position to continue his march up the championship standings after posting the fastest time in a separate qualifying session earlier this afternoon. Live coverage of both Sunday races will be available on the USF Pro Championships App and on the series’ website, www.usfpro2000.com.

Provisional championship points after 3 of 18 rounds:
1. Nikita Johnson, 77
2. Lochie Hughes, 61
3. Christian Brooks, 55
4. Hunter Yeany, 53
5. Frankie Mossman, 44
6. Mac Clark, 44
7. Danny Dyszelski, 24
8. Liam Sceats, 37
9. Braden Eves, 39
10. Jace Denmark, 38

Hunter Yeany (#27 Hard Rock/VHP-TJ Speed Motorsports Tatuus IP-22): “I wanted to take the lead early because I knew if I got clean air it would be really hard for the guys behind to follow because it is such a high speed track. Everything went to plan and then it was just about holding them off especially on the restarts. It was really hectic. We got the job done at the end of the day so I am super happy. The team did a great job and we have been really fast all weekend. All the hard work in off-season like set-ups and developing the car has really paid off and I want to thank them for all of the hard work they put in. It really means a lot.”

Nikita Johnson (#17 409A Direct/AnyDesk/Labrador Primary Care-VRD Racing Tatuus IP-22): “The race went very well. We started P8 and ended up P2. I made all my passes on the starts which was very nice. The car was wicked fast. I want to thank Dan Mitchell, Jacob Loomis and Jacob Abel for helping, my Dad, Mom and [Brother] Kai for coming out and all the Wheldons for supporting and being able to help each other even though we are in different classes. It was a fun race. We had a very strong car and I am looking forward to the next two races.”

Jace Denmark (#20 Pabst Racing Tatuus IP-22): “It was a tough one. We thought we were going to be a lot better on pace than we were during the race, and the outside of Turn 3 was surprisingly gripped up. I made it really hard for them to go around me but there was a lot of grip out there I didn’t anticipate. I need to keep a mental note for when I am starting fourth in the next race and, provisionally, pole again in the third race. It was tough on the restarts and once you are out in front you kind of just sit there.”

 
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