By Steve Wittich
The lone USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tires practice session opened up a busy Saturday at the iconic Sebring International Raceway.
Bright sunny skies and an ambient temperature of 72F greeted the 17 drivers when the half-hour practice got the green flag at 8:35 am.
The Pabst Racing duo of veteran Simon Sikes and rookie Max Garcia traded the top spot on the time sheet in the first half of the session.
With ten minutes remaining, the winner of the first race of the season, Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Lochie Hughes jumped to the top of the timing screens, completing a lap of the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway road course in 125.097 seconds. That was four-tenths a second quicker than the fastest lap during spring training at the same track.
With five minutes left in the session, the top five were Hughes, Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Garcia, Sikes, and Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development) had the five quickest laps.
Ho and the Triple S Suspensions sponsored No. 68 contested the three USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires races before the team converted it to USF2000 configuration.
On his ninth practice lap, Hughes lowered the top time to 124.857 seconds. His time at the top of the timing screen
Two cars blew through the checkered flag at the alternate timing line on the Ullman Straight. St. Petersburg race #2 winner Nikita Johnson (Velocity Racing Development) and Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development) will have to sit the first five minutes of qualifying as a penalty.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Sebring
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFF.||LAPS|
|1||22||Simon Sikes||Pabst Racing||2:04.799||2:04.799||12|
|2||8||Lochie Hughes||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:04.857||0.058||9|
|3||24||Max Garcia||Pabst Racing||2:05.002||0.203||12|
|4||68||Ethan Ho||DC Autosport||2:05.291||0.492||13|
|5||17||Nikita Johnson||VRD Racing||2:05.556||0.757||12|
|6||6||Evagoras Papasavvas||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:05.859||1.060||10|
|7||1||Mac Clark||DEForce Racing||2:06.073||1.274||10|
|8||67||Elliot Cox||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dev||2:06.190||1.391||10|
|9||90||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||2:06.237||1.438||13|
|10||14||Sam Corry||VRD Racing||2:06.283||1.484||12|
|11||9||Louka St-Jean||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:06.302||1.503||11|
|12||95||Chase Gardner||Exclusive Autosport||2:06.932||2.133||9|
|13||7||Al Morey||Jay Howard Driver Development||2:06.942||2.143||11|
|14||10||Jorge Garciarce||DEForce Racing||2:07.133||2.334||11|
|15||12||Maxwell Jamieson||DEForce Racing||2:07.389||2.590||13|
|16||93||Avery Towns||Exclusive Autosport||2:07.488||2.689||13|
|17||19||Gordon Scully||VRD Racing||2:10.049||5.250||6|
The middle rung of the USF Pro Championships Presented By Cooper Tires ladder will qualify at 12:25 pm.