Andre Castro in the Doug Mockett & Company sponsored No. 23 from the International Motorsport stable led the first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires practice at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

By Steve Wittich

The first official session of the 2022 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend at Barber Motorsports Park got underway at 8:45 am on Thursday with USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires practice.

This weekend is the first and only time that five American open-wheel series are on the same bill this season. The USF Juniors are joined by Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

At just before the halfway point of the session, the No. 8 Future Star Racing piloted by David Burketh made light contact with the barriers in Turn 3. The driver, that is making his first USF Juniors start, was able to continue back to pit road. He was able to continue in the session.

After 15 of 30 minutes, Mac Clark’s (DEForce Racing) lap of 86.952 seconds led the way, with Andre Castro (International Motorsport), Alessandro De Tullio (Velocity Racing Development), Nicholas d’Orlando (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Ethan Ho (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Nikita Johnson (Velocity Racing Development), Noah Ping (Velocity Racing Development), Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), Sam Corry (Velocity Racing Development), and Alan Isambard (International Motorsport).

With eight minutes remaining, Castro went quicker than Clark by a scant seven-thousandth of a second faster.

With just over four minutes remaining, the No. 9 IGY6 Motorsports machine of Bianca Bustamante went for an off-track excursion but was able to continue.

Immediately after that, the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development had an off-track excursion in Turn 14. Cox was able to continue, and the track remained green.

Castro, who made a pair of USF2000 starts at Barber Motorsports Park in 2021, and is fifth in the USF Juniors’ points standings, ended the sole practice session at the top of the timing screens.

Double Ozarks International Raceway race winner and championship leader Clark was the second quickest driver.

The entire session ran under green flag conditions, with the field completing 315 laps.

Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama Practice Results

1 23 Andre Castro International Motorsport 1:26.865 —— 19
2 17 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 1:26.952 -0.087 20
3 20 Alessandro De Tullio Velocity Racing Development 1:27.084 -0.219 19
4 61 Nicholas D’Orlando DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.510 -0.645 20
5 71 Ethan Ho DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.589 -0.724 20
6 7 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 1:27.629 -0.764 16
7 19 Jake Bonilla DEForce Racing 1:27.711 -0.846 19
8 55 Noah Ping Velocity Racing Development 1:27.882 -1.017 20
9 67 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development 1:27.907 -1.042 16
10 87 Jeremy Fairbairn Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:28.040 -1.175 19
11 14 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development 1:28.073 -1.208 19
12 53 Alan Isambard International Motorsport 1:28.073 -1.208 19
13 31 Titus Sherlock Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:28.114 -1.249 20
14 8 David Burketh Future Star Racing 1:28.220 -1.355 14
15 24 Earl Tucker DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:28.752 -1.887 19
16 18 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing 1:28.783 -1.918 18
17 9 Bianca Bustamante IGY6 Motorsports 1:29.413 -2.548 18

These same drivers will qualify in approximately two hours at 11:20 am. The first of two Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama races rolls off at 2:35 pm.

Unfortunately, poor weather forced the cancelation of Sunday’s third race at Ozarks International Raceway. A replacement race will be added to the schedule, with an announcement later.