Exclusive Autosport’s Joey Brienza on track in the UBS sponsored No. 91 during practice at the Sebring International Raceway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

By Steve Wittich

Joey Brienza’s name enters the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires record books as the first pole winner in the JR-23 era of competition.

The 18-year-old, who also made a pair of USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tire starts in that series season-opening event in St. Petersburg, Fla., dominated the field, going over half a second quicker than his competition.

Making it an all-Exclusive Autosport front row for this afternoon’s first of three Cooper Tire Grand Prix of Sebring races was the reigning Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion, Jack Jeffers.

The second row for the season’s first race will feature a pair of Velocity Racing Development drivers, with Max Taylor and Jimmie Lockhart rolling off third and fourth.

The first qualifying session of the second USF Juniors season got the green flag at 1:20 pm.

The drivers had a half-hour to get 20 minutes of green flag running.

Coloradan Brienza was the quickest driver early in the session but was quickly supplanted by Lockhart at the halfway point of qualifying. His lap of 131.522 seconds was 0.2 seconds ahead of Brienza. Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Nicolas Giaffone (DEForce Racing), and Jack Jeffers (Exclusive Autosport) rounded out the top five.

Lap times continued to fall, with Brienza grabbing the top spot with just over five minutes remaining, with Lockhart and Taylor within a tenth of a second of the provisional pole.

Brienza, an F1600 veteran, lowered the provisional pole on his next two laps and was the first driver to drop under 131 seconds.

USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires unofficial qualifying results

191Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport2:10.600——
292Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport2:11.124-0.524
333Max TaylorVRD Racing2:11.143-0.543
448Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing2:11.458-0.858
568Ethan HoDC Autosport2:11.505-0.905
616Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing2:11.510-0.91
717Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing2:11.577-0.977
819Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing2:11.583-0.983
912Ethan BarkerVRD Racing2:11.886-1.286
1018Brady GolanDEForce Racing2:12.583-1.983
1190Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport2:13.053-2.453
1257Carson EtterDC Autosport2:14.596-3.996
1393Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport2:17.394-6.794

The first of three Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Sebring races will get the green flag at 4:20 pm.

Of note:

  • The grid for Race #2 will be set using the driver’s second-best lap in qualifying or their quickest lap in the first race.
  • The grid for Race #3 will be set using the driver’s second-best lap in qualifying or their quickest lap in the second race.