VRD Racing’s Nikita Johnson led the lone practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2023 Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

By Steve Wittich

The single half-hour USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tires practice session before Friday morning qualifying took place late on Thursday afternoon, getting the green flag at 5:10 pm. The sun shone in Speedway, Ind, and the ambient temperature was 82F.

After five minutes of running, race control reminded the teams and drivers that any driver leaving the track surface at the exit Turn 6 would have their lap invalidated. Additionally, offenders would be denoted utilizing the car’s transponder.

Points leader Simon Sikes (Pabst Racing) led early in the session, with Lochie Hughes (Jay Howard Driver Development) grabbing the top spot on the timing screens just past the halfway point. Exclusive Autosport rookie Chase Gardner was the third quickest after 15 minutes.

Lap times continued to fall, with Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing), who waited until late in the session to take to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course going to the top of the timing screens on only his third lap.

New tire runs meant the timing screen was full of green and purple as drivers got their fresh Cooper tires into the optimal operating range.

Nobody could touch Johnson, with Sikes and reigning USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires champion Mac Clark (DEForce Racing), jumping into the top five at the end of the session.

The top eight drivers – Johnson, Hughes, Sikes, Clark, Gardner, Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Sam Corry (VRD Racing) and Jorge Garciarce (DEForce Racing) were within a half-second.

The top six drivers represented six teams.

The 20 drivers completed 258 laps.

USF2000 Discount Tire Grand Prix of Indianapolis practice results

117Nikita JohnsonVRD Racing1:26.4721——6
28Lochie HughesJay Howard Driver Development1:26.56010.088010
322Simon SikesPabst Racing1:26.59490.122814
41Mac ClarkDEForce Racing1:26.74190.269812
595Chase GardnerExclusive Autosport1:26.83650.364418
668Ethan HoDC Autosport1:26.84100.368919
714Sam CorryVRD Racing1:26.88930.417211
810Jorge GarciarceDEForce Racing1:26.96630.494216
990Jacob DouglasExclusive Autosport1:27.06850.59649
1067Elliot CoxSarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development1:27.19180.719712
1124Max GarciaPabst Racing1:27.33570.863618
1212Maxwell JamiesonDEForce Racing1:27.37350.901418
136Evagoras PapasavvasJay Howard Driver Development1:27.41010.938010
1433Max TaylorVRD Racing1:27.43610.96407
157Al MoreyJay Howard Driver Development1:27.53181.059716
1692Lucas MannExclusive Autosport1:27.56371.091620
1719Gordon ScullyVRD Racing1:27.57301.10097
1897Zack PingVRD Racing1:27.86991.39785
1918Danny DyszelskiVRD Racong1:27.98271.510610
2093Avery TownsExclusive Autosport1:28.00431.532220

The USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tires series had a pair of test sessions earlier this afternoon. The only red flags were for tow-ins.

Sikes led the first test session with a lap at 86.4937 seconds, followed by Hughes, Johnson and Clark within five-hundredths of a second. VRD Racing rookie Gordon Scully turned 29 laps, the most of any driver.

Johnson led the second test session, lowering the best lap to 86.1871 seconds, with Hughes, Gardner, Papasavvas and Sikes within a half second of the fastest lap.

In case you missed it earlier, we posted a weekend preview.

The rest of the USF2000 Championship Presented By Cooper Tires schedule for this weekend is as follows (all times local):


  • 8 am – USF2000 Qualifying
  • 12:05 pm – USF2000 Race #1 (15 laps or 40 minutes)
  • 2 pm – USF2000 Autograph Session (IMS Midway)


  • 8 am – USF2000 Race #2 (15 laps or 40 minutes)
  • noon – USF2000 Race #3 (15 laps or 40 minutes)

Don’t forget to download the USF Pro Championships Presented By Cooper Tires app to follow the action.