By Steve Wittich
After a second flag-to-flag USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires victory, DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark has the chance to complete the perfect weekend on Sunday morning.
The 18-year-old, who calls Campbellville, Ontario home, led testing, led practice, scored two poles, and stood on the top step of the podium twice.
For the second race in a row, Velocity Racing Development pilots occupied the second and third steps of the podium. Sam Corry repeated his third-place finish while his 15-year-old teammate from Miami, Fla., Alessandro De Tullio, came home in second.
For the second race in a row, Andre Castro finished fourth.
After a pace lap, the front row of Clark and Nikita Johnson (Velocity Racing Development) brought the field to the green flag on the front straight of the 3.97-mile, 19-turn road course.
Once again, Clark was able to grab the lead with the first five drivers holding station.
The field made it cleanly through the first eight corners before the pilots who started sixth, seventh, and eighth ended up in the barriers on the driver’s right in Turn 9, bringing out the yellow flag.
The incident included the No. 87 of Jeremy Fairburn, who went backward into the barrier, the No. 19 of Jake Bonilla, who made the lightest contact, and the No. 53 of Alan Isambard, who was nose-first into the barriers.
The running order after crossing the line, under yellow, to complete one lap was Clark, Nikita Johnson, Sam Corry, Andre Castro, Alessandro De Tullio, Ethan Ho, Titus Sherlock, Earl W. Tucker, IV, Elliot Cox, Noah Ping, Bianca Bustamante, Jeremy Fairburn, Jake Bonilla, Alan Isambard, and Nicholas d’Orlando.
Unfortunately, much like the earlier race, a few drivers could not take the start in the second of three Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of The Ozarks. Maxwell Jamieson again missed the start of a race. He was joined by Jacob Bolen, who made late contact in Race #1 after avoiding his teammate Bustamante.
With multiple cars in the tire barrier, race control decided to throw the red flag so the drivers didn’t lose track time under green.
The green flag came back out on Lap 3, with Clark getting a good restart. Noah Ping lost two laps, and d’Orlando lost one lap during the red flag period.
On Lap 4, Castro moved to the final spot on the podium. Further back in the field, Sherlock got by Ho for sixth.
On the next lap, Castro lost that spot and one more, dropping to fifth place. The driver that grabbed fourth was De Tullio.
Clark’s lead over Johnson when he was shown the cross flags to signify the race’s halfway point was 2.7 seconds. Johnson had 2.4 seconds over Corry, who had De Tullio and Castro right on his tail.
On Lap 7, the driver running in second place had an issue, dropping down the field to the seventh spot. That promoted Corry to second and De Tullio to the final spot on the podium.
Clark’s lead over Corry after eight laps of action was 7 seconds. Corry, who finished third in the first race, had De Tullio and Castro within one second in the three-car battle for the final two spots on the podium.
Further back in the field, Tucker and Cox were nose-to-tail for the eighth spot.
With two laps remaining, the battle for the last two spots was still going hot and heavy, but it wasn’t the only action on the undulating track. Johnson was able to gain back one of the spots he lost earlier, going to sixth after passing Ho, and Cox finally got around Tucker for eighth.
Clark took the white flag 8.8 seconds ahead of a side-by-side Velocity Racing Development battle for second. The gap between Corry and De Tullio as they took the white flag was a scant 0.08 seconds.
De Tullio completed the pass, grabbing the second step on the podium after getting by his teammate.
“It was a really exciting race,” said De Tullio to Rob Howden, explaining the pass for second. “I got a run out of the last turn. He went to the inside early, forcing me to take the outside line. Coming into Turn 1, there was a small gap, and I went for it. He raced me super clean. He also did a great job with him behind him the whole race, so good job to Sam. Also, good job to Mac Clark for the win.”
Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of The Ozarks Unofficial Race #1 Results
|1||17||Mac Clark||DEForce Racing||12 LAPS|
|2||20||Alessandro De Tullio||Velocity Racing Development||-8.599|
|3||14||Sam Corry||Velocity Racing Development||-9.592|
|4||23||Andre Castro||International Motorsport||-10.278|
|5||31||Titus Sherlock||Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports||-14.099|
|6||7||Nikita Johnson||Velocity Racing Development||-16.845|
|7||71||Ethan Ho||DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports||-26.517|
|8||67||Elliot Cox||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development||-27.963|
|9||24||Earl Tucker||DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports||-28.306|
|10||9||Bianca Bustamante||IGY6 Motorsports||-92.965|
|11||61||Nicholas D’Orlando||DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports||-1 LAPS|
|12||55||Noah Ping||Velocity Racing Development||-4 LAPS|
|13||87||Jeremy Fairbairn||Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports||-12 LAPS|
|14||19||Jake Bonilla||DEForce Racing||-12 LAPS|
|15||53||Alan Isambard||International Motorsport||-12 LAPS|