By Patrick Stephan
Welcome to the first race of a busy day the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. USF2000 presented by Cooper Tires took the green flag bright and early at 8:00am Eastern Time with the Air and Track Temp about 68F, and 92% humidity making it quite muggy here.
The start was as chaotic as you’d expect with Sikes taking the lead from Johnson at Turn 2. Further back the field stacked up at the exit of Turn 1 and Gordon Scully and Max Taylor wound up losing their front wings in Turn 2.
That brings out the yellow flag.
Simon Sikes brings them back to green after 2 laps, and again keeps the lead, but he has a trio of BRD cars in Dyszelski, Johnson, and Corry behind him as they settle nose to tail through Turn 2.
Further back, Elliot Cox is making moves in several turns, including 12 to get up to 13th from his 18th starting position.
Lap 3 also shows Mac Clark and Lochie Hughes getting back to 5th and 6th respectively.
Nikita Johnson moves to second on Lap 4 as Sikes gets out to a 1.8 second lead.
Lap 5 we get a couple incidents as Zack Ping is off at Turn 7. Al Morey and Maxwell Jameison get together when Jameison gets a run on the inside but doesn’t have the angle and can’t get the car turned so they make left front to right rear contact, taking them both to the outside and off the track.
Order with 6 laps completed is Sikes, Johnson, Dyszelski, Hughes, Clark, Douglas, Ho, Gardner, Cox (P10), Papasavvas, Garciarce, Garcia, Towns, Taylor, Morey, Jameison, Ping, Scully.
Back to green and Sikes is able to get a clean jump and lead through Turn 1. Note they had put the lapped car of Max Taylor up behind Taylor helping the leader a bit on that start.
Chase Gardner is now getting a drive through for his incident at Tun 7 earlier and Jameison will also get a penalty should he return – both are for avoidable contact. Watching now, quite a few people are trying the same move as Jameison, he just couldn’t get his car to rotate and Turn for that 90 degree right hander.
Fight up front has Sikes leading Hughes, Johnson, Clark and Corry in the Top 5. Douglas is 6th and Cox is up to 7th as they both came through in a scramble that pushed Dyszelski wide in Turn 2.
Papasavvas also gets Dyszelscki on Lap 11 as he moves to the 9th spot. Race Control comes back and corrects that saying there was a shortcut, and they’ll have to swap those spots back.
Gardner missed the penalty the first opportunity but does come down pit lane before the black flag is shown a second time.
Sikes lead as the white flag is shown is 1.2 seconds over Hughes is trying to hold off Johnson in what would be a better battle if we could see it (camera was following a car all by itself for a bit 😉 ).
Sikes takes the win by 1.6738 over Hughes with Johnson joining him on the podium. Mac Clark, Sam Corr and Jacob Douglas follow. The timing sheet say Papasavvas is 7th, but race control announced that car would get a post race penalty for a short-cut. Cox listed 8th for now, then Dyszelski and Garciarce round out the Top 10.
Note on the short cut. Race control had announced before the race they would monitor shortcuts electronically with timing and scoring loops in that area and penalties could be enforced during or after the event -including post race time penalties.
Sikes, a 22-year old from Atlanta, picks up his second win of the year. This was his 32nd USF2000 start after doing partial seasons with smaller teams from 2020 through 2022. Now with Pabst Racing, he’s got a win at Sebring, Indy and is currently 2nd in points.
Sikes came in to the weekend leading the points, but his 13th place finish yesterday allowed Lochie Hughes to resume the top spot in the season long battle. Sikes win today closes that gap to 7, with another race to run today at noon.
But, like previous seasons, and similar to others on the ladder, he still needs funding to finish this season. Ideally, performances like today will help attract the sponsorship necessary to keep him in the seat for race weekends to come.
Big movers of the race are Papasavvas from 19th to 7th (subject to penalty enforcement) and Elliot Cox from 18th to 8th.
USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires Discount Tire GP of Indianapolis Race #2 UNOFFICIAL Results
|1||22||Simon Sikes||15||1:26.6615||15||2||Pabst Racing|
|2||8||Lochie Hughes||15||1:27.1049||3||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|3||17||Nikita Johnson||15||1:27.3245||1||VRD Racing|
|4||1||Mac Clark||15||1:26.6515||5||DEForce Racing|
|5||14||Sam Corry||15||1:26.9883||4||VRD Racing|
|6||90||Jacob Douglas||15||1:26.9972||10||Exclusive Autosport|
|7||6||Evagoras Papasavvas||15||1:26.8493||19||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|8||67||Elliot Cox||15||1:26.8913||18||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development|
|9||18||Danny Dyszelski||15||1:27.6423||6||VRD Racong|
|10||10||Jorge Garciarce||15||1:27.6200||12||DEForce Racing|
|11||68||Ethan Ho||15||1:28.4472||9||DC Autosport|
|12||24||Max Garcia||15||1:27.0685||17||Pabst Racing|
|13||93||Avery Towns||15||1:27.7725||15||Exclusive Autosport|
|14||92||Lucas Mann||15||1:28.1663||20||Exclusive Autosport|
|15||95||Chase Gardner||15||1:27.0816||7||Exclusive Autosport|
|16||33||Max Taylor||14||1:28.5274||16||VRD Racing|
|17||7||Al Morey||13||1:27.3683||11||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|18||19||Gordon Scully||13||1:27.6715||14||VRD Racing|
|19||12||Maxwell Jamieson||7||2:09.7712||8||DEForce Racing|
|20||97||Zack Ping||4||1:27.8623||13||VRD Racing|