Archives for 2022 USF Juniors Coverage

Prototype Testing Begins with New Tatuus JR-23 USF Juniors Chassis

The new Tatuus JR-23 USF Juniors Chassis begins testing during a USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires event at Road America (Photo courtesy of USF Juniors / Photo: José Mário Dias)

Source: Series PR

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – As part of a test day in advance of the triple-header Fleet Farm Grand Prix of Road America this weekend for USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires, the new Tatuus JR-23 turned its first public laps in advance of a 2023 competition debut. Exclusive Autosport, a fixture on the first two levels of the Road to Indy and current Indy Pro 2000 points leaders, converted a Tatuus USF-22 to the JR-23 with team driver Joey Brienza II behind the wheel.
The Tatuus JR-23 utilizes the same base chassis as the first two steps of the driver development ladder system with some modifications to conform to an entry level step. Drivers and teams can begin with the JR-23 chassis and continue to advance up the world’s most complete driver development system with a forward-thinking three-step concept.
Modifications for the USF Juniors series include the uprights, brake package, dampers and wheels. The USF2000 2-liter MZR powerplant prepared by Elite Engines utilizes a different restrictor plate for USF Juniors to ensure it fulfills its role as an entry level step below USF2000. The Cooper tire-shod chassis features the latest Magneti Marelli data logger and ECU.
“I want to thank Michael Duncalfe, Exclusive Autosport and Joey for helping us with our prototype testing,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Our engine builder and technical director have been exploring various engine performance combinations today to determine the best positioning for 2023. We were fairly restrictive during our first session and fairly open in the second test which is why the lap times were four-plus seconds faster than the current Junior times. Our goal for the third session was to run around the 2:18 mark and we accomplished that.
“Engine mapping is a key factor. As with our past prototype testing of the new USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 cars for this year, we want to ensure the series has the ultimate, reliable equipment package in place before we release to teams. Our three-step concept allows a driver to progress from USF Juniors to USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 using the same base chassis, so today was important in dialing in our initial parameters.”
Current points leader Mac Clark of DEForce Racing was quickest overall at the conclusion of today’s test followed by Andre Castro (International Motorsport) and Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing). USF Juniors will return to the track tomorrow for practice, qualifying and the first race of the weekend at 3:25 pm CDT. Global live streaming can be found at Road to Indy TV, on the USF Juniors App and at usfjuniors.com.

De Tullio and USF Juniors Points Leader Clark Share Mid-Ohio Spoils

USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires Race #3 start at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Honors were shared today as the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires series wrapped up its Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio weekend. Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., scored his fourth victory this morning for VRD Racing while Canadian Mac Clark gave himself a cushion in his quest to win a scholarship valued at over $220,000 to move onto the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in 2023 by winning the final race of the triple-header weekend.
Clark finished second this morning after starting on pole position and leading most laps, with Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing), from Gulfport, Fla., in third. Johnson went one better in the final 20-lap race around the challenging, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as De Tullio had to settle for third.
This morning’s ninth round of the 16-race season began in familiar style after positions were established according to each driver’s second fastest lap set during the lone qualifying session on Friday. Once again it was Clark who lined up on the inside of the front row of the grid after claiming his eighth Cooper Tires Pole Award.
Clark maintained his advantage at the start, albeit under pressure from a three-car VRD Racing pack. As had been the case on Friday, Corry led the chase initially, with Johnson battling ahead of De Tullio on the second lap before the caution flags waved following a couple of incidents farther down the 18-car field.
A fraught restart saw De Tullio vault from fourth to second, but Clark held firm in the lead as the pace gradually picked up. One more incident after 15 laps was cleaned up quickly to allow for a two-lap dash to the checkers, during which De Tullio made an aggressive move on the back straightaway to take the lead on Lap 19. De Tullio held on to secure his fourth win of the season.
Clark had to be content with second place ahead of Johnson, who also took advantage of the restart to sneak past Friday winner Corry.
A tremendous late battle between International Motorsport teammates Giorgio Carrara, from Las Brenas, Argentina, and Andre Castro, from New York, N.Y., fell in favor of the Argentinean, while Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Wellington, Fla., sliced past Castro on the final lap to complete a magnificent charge from the back of the field after being involved in one of the first-lap incidents.
Clark once again lined up on pole position for the final race of the weekend, and made not the hint of an error as he led all 20 laps to secure his fifth win of the season.
De Tullio overtook Corry, who started second, on the third lap when Corry slid wide at the exit of the Keyhole, but couldn’t shake off the attentions of Johnson, who finally found a way past with five laps remaining. Johnson closed on Clark in the waning stages, finishing less than a quarter of a second back at the checkered flag for his fifth podium of the season.
Carrara posted another fine drive by finishing fourth, hot on the heels of De Tullio. Corry took fifth ahead of Alan Isambard (International Motorsport), from West Palm Beach, Fla., and Fairbairn, who overtook Ethan Ho (DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports), from Los Angeles, Calif., on the final lap.
Dan Mitchell (VRD Racing) and Ernesto and David Martinez (DEForce Racing) shared today’s PFC Awards as the winning car owners.
Clark now leads De Tullio by 47 points, 275-228, as the USF Juniors head next to Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for another triple-header event on July 30/31.
Provisional championship points after 10 of 16 races:
1. Mac Clark, 275
2. Alessandro De Tullio, 228
3. Sam Corry, 209
4. Nikita Johnson, 199
5. Andre Castro, 155
6. Jeremy Fairbairn, 135
7. Titus Sherlock, 126
8. Ethan Ho, 115
9. Elliot Cox, 111
10. Alan Isambard, 107
Round 9:
Alessandro De Tullio (#20 VRD/DTI Group Inc.-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “I was chasing Mac throughout the first 15 laps and then we had a safety car. I was able to make a really good restart and we battled throughout the first half of the lap. It was a good and clean battle. Towards the end, I just had to keep it together and cross the finish line. It was a good race, good win and a good race for Mac as well. I want to thank the whole VRD team, my sponsors and my family – everyone who supports me.”
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “I ended up P2 again, but we’ll take the points and also for leading the most laps. The restart at the end kind of got us, but still a big thank-you to the team, DEForce Racing, for the super-fast car, my title sponsor Valkyrie AI and MIR Raceline – they have all my gear from the neck down – and all my friends and family.”
Nikita Johnson (#7 Allen Exploration, llc/Walker’s Cay-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “I started fourth and stayed there for a while because we all are on an almost identical set up and it was really hard to make any moves until the final restart. Alessandro passed Mac, Mac was in second and Sam tried to pass Mac in Turn Nine. He made a mistake and I went on the inside of Sam going into Turn 11 and moved into third. I had a front row seat for Mac and Alessandro duking it out. It was an amazing race and I learned a lot. We’ll go watch the video and look at data and see what we can fix for the next round.”
Round 10:
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS):“Moving forward, it is nice to have this points cushion. The restart was the defining factor in this race. I managed to pull a little gap on Alessandro and Nikita and, after that, I just settled in and hit my marks. I knew Nikita was coming and he was pushing hard so I was pushing hard too and doing consistent (1:)21.5s. I started to lose the rear tires at the end of the race but keeping Nikita behind was definitely the goal. I haven’t been top of the box in about five races so this feels good. To have this victory going into the last two rounds and a nice points lead is definitely comforting for myself and the team.”
Nikita Johnson (#7 Allen Exploration, llc/Walker’s Cay-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “I was behind Alessandro for a little bit and finally passed him. I rode down Mac and caught him on the last lap and then we duked it out and it was really fun. It was nice, clean racing and we picked up some good points. I am really excited for Road America.”
Alessandro De Tullio (#20 VRD/DTI Group Inc.-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “This wasn’t the best race for me. I started third and had a good start and got up to second. I fell back to third there in the end. I lost a bit of pace. I didn’t have enough this race to battle with the front guys, but I am looking forward to improving for Road America and hopefully we will be better there.”

De Tullio Captures First USF Juniors Win at VIR

Alessandro De Tullio (Velocity Racing Development) celebrates his first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires win at Virginia International Raceway ((Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

ALTON, Va. – Alessandro De Tullio claimed his first career USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires win in dramatic fashion this afternoon at VIRginia International Raceway in an all-green flag race that saw four different lead changes during the course of the 15-lap contest on the 3.27-mile, 18-turn road course. De Tullio, 15, of Miami, Fla., proved his pace at the top of the timesheets yesterday in testing was no fluke as he rebounded from a fall to 10th position at the start due to contact.
Nikita Johnson, 14, from St. Petersburg, Fla., claimed his third podium finish of the season with a hard-fought second-place result with Sam Corry, 14, from Chicago, Ill., rounding out an all Velocity Racing Development podium with his fourth top-three drive.
Mac Clark’s perfect streak of four pole positions and four wins to commence the inaugural USF Juniors season finally came to an end this morning when Jeremy Fairbairn, 18, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., took advantage of a scrambled qualifying session to earn a first Cooper Tires Pole Award both for himself and his Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport team.
De Tullio and Corry had shown themselves to be the top contenders during testing yesterday and practice earlier this morning. But both made mistakes during the 30-minute session to bring out red flags and earn penalties which negated their best lap times and relegated them to fifth (De Tullio) and seventh (Corry) on the grid. Fairbairn, meanwhile, having never been higher than sixth during the previous sessions, laid down the fastest lap at 1:55.970, an average speed of 101.509 mph, to earn the best starting position for today’s first of three races which comprise the Cooper Tires VIR Grand Prix.
Clark, who started on the front row, made his move on Fairbairn in Turn Two on the opening lap. The 18-year-old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, held the advantage until Lap 5 when Johnson and Corry battled through to take the point. De Tullio, meanwhile, was on a charge. After dropping to 10th at the start, De Tullio had powered through into fourth by the fifth lap insuring an entertaining four-driver battle at the front.
As Johnson and Corry swapped the lead on Lap 7, De Tullio displaced Clark for third and the fight was on. De Tullio made his move on Johnson on Lap 11 and Corry on Lap 13 to take the checkered flag 1.955 seconds clear as his VRD teammates battled for second with Johnson eventually winning out.
Titus Sherlock, 17, of Proper, Texas, rounded out the top five with his second top-five finish of the season after posting his best qualifying result of third.
De Tullio picked up an extra bonus point for the fastest lap of the race – and the first PFC Award for team owner Dan Mitchell – with Corry adding a bonus point for most laps led.
Clark of DEForce Racing still holds a commanding 38-point lead in his quest for a scholarship valued at $220,000 to graduate onto the first official step of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, in 2023.
The first of two more races tomorrow is set to start at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Live streaming can be found at RoadToIndy.TV, the new USF Juniors App as well as usfjuniors.com.
Provisional championship points after 5 of 16 races:
1. Mac Clark, 150
2. Sam Corry, 112
3. Nikita Johnson, 104
4. Andre Castro, 91
5. Alessandro De Tullio, 90
6. Ethan Ho, 65
7. Jeremy Fairbairn, 63
8. Titus Sherlock, 61
9. Elliot Cox, 54
10. Jake Bonilla, 48
Alessandro De Tullio (#20 VRD/DTI Group Inc.-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It all started in qualifying with the red flag. It was a tough qualifying and I started in P5. Going into Turn One, the goal was just to be clean and stay in position. If I could gain a position or two, that would be good. There was a car on my inside and he couldn’t stop and he ran into me unfortunately. I felt the damage. The hit was pretty hard and I was worried there for a second but throughout the lap, the car was pretty decent so I just kept my head down and kept pushing. When I caught Mac it was for P3 or P4, and I made some mistakes and he passed me back. The gap to Nikita and Sam was quite big at that point, and I just tried to calm myself down. I got by Mac again and just pushed and caught Nikita and Sam. We had a good battle in the end. The car was good. There is some damage that we will fix for tomorrow but I want to thank my whole VRD team, my sponsors and my family and everyone who supports me. As a team to do a 1-2-3 here is perfect for our confidence and the whole team is going to be positive, like always, but this is going to be a boost.”
Nikita Johnson (#7 Allen Exploration, llc/Walker’s Cay-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a great race. I would like to thank everyone from VRD, Walker’s Cay, Allen Exploration and my family. We started fourth and I went around the outside and was battling with Jeremy for second. Once I passed him, I kept my head down and put in some really great laps with Sam behind me. We caught and passed Mac and made a bit of a gap and I just focused on turning good laps. Alessandro came back from his incident. He was really fast in testing and qualifying and there was no stopping him. I dropped back to third and passed Sam in the Rollercoaster. Overall, it was some great teamwork and a very fun race.”
Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a great race. We started P8 and had a really good start and I just worked my way up. Once I was behind Nikita, we just clicked off laps to catch Mac. We passed Mac and were just hauling to try to pull away from him. Alessandro had a really good run after his incident and caught us. He broke away a little bit towards the end. Nikita, Mac and I had a good, clean race. Going down the straight with Mac and I side-by-side made for a photo finish there. It was a really good race overall.”
Source: Series PR

Clark Leads USF Juniors Field to Virginia

PALMETTO, Fla. – USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires, a new-for-2022 pre-step to the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, will return to action this weekend following a six-week hiatus. The challenging 3.27-mile, 18-turn VIRginia International Raceway road course will host a triple-header on June 4/5 with rising star Mac Clark seeking to maintain his perfect start to the season for DEForce Racing with four wins from the opening four races.
Clark, 18, from Toronto, Ont., Canada, quite simply blitzed the field at the inaugural event at Ozarks International Raceway in April. He was placed under rather more pressure during the second pair of races just a few days later at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala., but again took home both checkered flags to claim a sizeable early advantage in the quest for a scholarship valued at more than $220,000 to graduate into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship for 2023.
Even with Clark’s dominant form, 14-year-old Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., remains within striking distance, just 42 points behind, following a strong start to the season with Velocity Racing Development which has netted three podium finishes, a fourth and one fastest race lap. Each race win is worth 30 points, with additional points available for pole position, fastest race lap and leading most laps.
The VRD team also will field front-running entries for Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., and Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., who both have showed good speed already this season.
Johnson, who celebrated his 14th birthday last week (May 25), has two podium finishes to his name, while De Tullio has one.
Other contenders will include Jeremy Fairbairn, from Wellington, Fla., who secured his maiden podium finish for Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport in the most recent race at Barber; teammate Titus Sherlock, from Prosper, Texas, who finished fifth in one of the Ozarks races; Ethan Ho (DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports), from Los Angeles, Calif.; and Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), from Indianapolis, Ind.
The USF Juniors field is set to expand this week with the addition of Ethan Barker, from Houston, Texas, in a family-run car, Australian karter Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing), and another pair of Crosslink Kiwi entries for Lucas Fecury, from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and Ryan Shehan, from Austin, Texas.
The Cooper Tires VIR Grand Prix will begin with a trio of test sessions on Thursday, June 3. The action is set to intensify on Saturday with 30 minutes of Official Practice at 8:30 a.m. EDT prior to a crucial solitary qualifying session at 10:40 a.m. The first of three races will see the green flag at 2:25 p.m. on Saturday, with two more races on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 1:25 p.m.
Live streaming of all races can be found at RoadToIndy.TV, the new USF Juniors App as well as usfjuniors.com.
Source: Series PR

Clark Remains Perfect in USF Juniors After Barber Sweep

Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) leads Andre Castro during the second USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

LEEDS, Ala. – There seems to be no stopping Mac Clark. The 18-year-old from Milton, Ont., Canada maintained his dominance of the new USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires series with another flag-to-flag victory this morning for DEForce Racing in the second part of the Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama double-header at Barber Motorsports Park. Clark’s record of four wins from four starts has taken him into a commanding 42-point lead in his quest for a scholarship valued at over $220,000 to graduate onto the first official step of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, in 2023.
Andre Castro, from New York, N.Y., kept the pressure on Clark throughout the first half of an exciting 20-lap, incident-free race around the challenging 2.3-mile road course before settling for a first-ever podium finish for the brand-new International Motorsport team. Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Wellington, Fla., earned his first podium finish in fine style after rising from sixth on the grid to third.
The starting positions for today’s race were set according to each driver’s second fastest lap during qualifying on Thursday, with Clark keeping his streak of Cooper Tires Pole Awards alive and Castro once again lining up alongside on the front row.
Mechanical problems unfortunately prevented both Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., who finished fourth yesterday for Velocity Racing Development, and Alan Isambard (International Motorsport), also from Miami, from starting today’s race, and then the green flag was held in abeyance after Clark’s teammate, Jake Bonilla, from San Antonio, Texas, experienced a mechanical problem on the pace lap.
After a couple of laps behind the Safety Car, Clark took off into the lead, chased by Castro who remained hot on his heels through the opening portion of the race. The two leaders traded fastest race laps as they quickly broke away from a large pack disputing third place.
Impressively, Clark found a little bit extra speed on all but one of the first 12 laps. Castro remained in his wheel tracks virtually the entire time, only to then slip back as the Canadian maintained his torrid pace out front.
Clark earned another maximum score of 33 points after establishing a new lap record of 1:27.354 on the 12th lap on his way to collecting a fourth straight PFC Award for DEForce Racing team principals David and Ernesto Martinez as the winning car owners.
Castro slipped back a little in second but still finished well clear of Fairbairn, who initially profited from De Tullio failing to take the start before fighting his way past Velocity Racing Development teammates Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., and Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., inside the first six laps.
Corry slipped to sixth in the early stages before displacing both Californian Ethan Ho (DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports) and Johnson during a thrilling race-long battle to reclaim fourth at the finish and keep his title aspirations alive.
Johnson ended the race in fifth ahead of last year’s FRP Formula 1600 Championship winner Nicholas d’Orlando (DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports), from Hartsdale, N.Y., who drove impressively through the midfield pack to finish sixth after starting 11th.
Up next for USF Juniors is a visit to yet another of this country’s most challenging and scenic road courses, Virginia International Raceway, in Alton, Va., for a trio of races the weekend of June 4/5.
Provisional championship points after 4 of 16 races:
1. Mac Clark, 130
2. Sam Corry, 89
3. Andre Castro, 80
4. Nikita Johnson, 79
5. Jeremy Fairbairn, 62
6. Alessandro De Tullio, 59
7. Ethan Ho, 50
8. Noah Ping, 46
9. Elliot Cox, 45
10. Titus Sherlock, 44
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “DEForce Valkyrie gave me another amazing car, and I’m so happy to bring it home today. We had a really good jump off pole and from there, it was just a matter of keeping my head down, keeping Andre behind me and taking care of those Cooper tires. They don’t call this the ‘Alabama roller coaster’ for nothing. Taking care of the left front was important but the tires are so durable so it really wasn’t an issue in the end. It’s great to come away with maximum championship points. It might be easy to get complacent after four in a row but I have to keep working hard. Lots of hard work, lots of video review, lots of data – we’ve started the season strong, we just have to keep it going.”
Andre Castro (#23 Doug Mockett & Company-International Motorsports Ligier JS): “I’ve done races on the Road to Indy for five years, so it’s great to finally get a podium. I’m so grateful to have the support of International Racing, they’re 100 percent committed to running at the front. After Ozarks, we knew we could do better so it’s great to get the second-place finish. I got close to Mac in the beginning but he did a great job of managing it. We’ll keep working to see what I can do better and how we can get the car better, but I know we can take some wins.”
Jeremy Fairbairn (#87 City Moves/Ayrton Lighting/GearSource.com-Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS): “After [a heavy crash] last weekend, this means everything. It was a tough race but I definitely had the pace to be at the front. It’s tough that Mac and Andre were so far ahead but given everything that happened last weekend, we’ll take a third place. The series has such great competitors and the Cooper tire is a very different tire than I have raced, so it’s been a learning experience. It’s been a great weekend; I love this track – it’s one of my favorites. The team and I have worked so hard and I have the best sponsors, I can’t thank them enough.”

 

Source: Andersen Promotions PR

Clark goes three for three to start the USF Juniors season

Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) is congratulated by mentor James Hinchcliffe after winning his third straight USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race in a row. Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

Mac Clark stood on the top step of the USF Juniors podium for the third time in the last six days, making the DEForce Racing driver the sole series winner to date.

The 18-year-old has had a dream start to his 2022 USF Juniors campaign scoring 98 of a possible 99 points to build a 28-point championship lead.

“The DEForce Racing and Valkyrie team has given me such a good race car to start the season, said the pilot of the MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI sponsored No. 17. “I prepared myself all winter long, and the goal was to come out strong, and the goal was to win every race – but until I won the first three races, I had no idea of how it would go. Super thankful for everything that’s happened so far. I just want to build on that. The VRD cars are really fast, so it’s heads down tonight; look at the data, try to improve myself and work with my engineer, Carlos, to improve the car and try to extract the most we can for tomorrow’s race.”

After dominant victories in the first two races of the year, Clark faced a little more pressure in today’s Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama race #1.

Sam Corry waged a back and forth battle with his Velocity Racing Development teammate Nikita Johnson, ended up in second place, his third straight podium to start the season.

“It was a great race, said the 14-year-old. “I had a good start with Nikita, and we were both just trying to get close to Mac. I was catching Mac toward the end but made a mistake on the back section that really cost me. It’s awesome to race here, and this is one of the most beautiful tracks we’ll go to all season, but it’s a hard track to pass on. We’ll go back with the team and look at the data, but we know we have pace. The VRD cars are amazing; the team has done a great job, so we’ll get after it tomorrow.”

Corry, who started the race from the inside of the third row, was followed by his Velocity Racing Development teammates Johnson and Alessandro De Tullio.

Front row starter Andre Castro (International Motorsport) ended in fifth, his third straight top-five to start the season.

Front row starters Clark and Castro slowly brought the nine rows of two onto the Barber Motorsports Park front stretch before punching off for the run down to the quick left-handed Turn 1.

The green flag flies for the start of the first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

Clark was the first driver to arrive at Turn 1, and the entire field raced cleanly through the first lap on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course.

The running order at the end of the first of 20 laps was Clark, Castro, Johnson, Corry, De Tullio, Noah Ping (Velocity Racing Development), Jeremy Fairburn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), Ethan Ho (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Jake Bonilla (DEForce Racing), Nicholas d’Orlando (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), Earl W. Tucker, IV (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Titus Sherlock (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), Bianca Bustamante (IGY6 Motorsports), David Burketh (Future Star Racing), Maxwell Jamieson (DEForce Racing), Jacob Bolen (IGY6 Motorsports) and Alan Isambard (International Motorsport).

On Lap 2, Sherlock came to pit road for repairs, falling down a lap to the field.

On Lap 3, Earl W. Tucker, IV spun in Turn 14 while running 14th. the Empire Paving/Equip Sales & Leasing Corp sponsored No. 24 from the DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports stable was able to continue, remaining on the lead lap.

On Lap 7, Corry and Johnson got around Castro for the final two spots on the podium.

Unlike the races five days ago, Clark could not quickly pull away, with Corry within a half-second of the leader.

Castro continued to fall down the running order over the next two laps, dropping two more spots to drop to sixth place.

On Lap 9, Corry lost the second spot when his Velocity Racing Development teammate Johnson moved to second place. That battle wasn’t over, though.

At the race’s halfway point, the running order was Clark, Johnson, Corry, De Tullio, Fairbairn, Castro, Ho, d’Orlando, Bonilla, Cox, Jamieson, Ping Burketh, Tucker IV, Ping, Bustamante, Sherlock, and Isambard.

Corry was able to get back by his teammate on Lap 14, swapping the second spot for the third time.

With five laps remaining, the gap between Clark and Corry had grown to 2.9 seconds, despite Corry, the driver of the Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets sponsored No. 14, turning the quickest lap of the race four laps before.

Despite the growing gap out front, the battle for the final two spots on the podium was properly on, with only 0.7 seconds covering Corry, Johnson, and Fairbairn.

With two laps remaining, Fairbairn’s run at the podium ended when he and Johnson had an incident resulting in a broken front wing while the pair were fighting for the final spot on the podium. Race control quickly announced that the incident would be reviewed post-race.

“It was a good race and I had a good start. We were trying to run down Mac and I was really pushing,” said Johnson. “I had a good battle back and forth with Sam – he was really fast. I could see that he was able to catch Mac. We tried to stay in the chase but the car was lacking a bit at the end, and I made some mistakes. I had a fun battle with Alessandro and Andre late in the race and I succeeded in keeping them behind me. I can’t thank the whole VRD crew enough – and my parents, for always supporting me.”

At the front of the field, Corry was running laps quicker than the leader but ran out of time, crossing under the twin checkers 1.5 seconds adrift of Clark.

Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama unofficial race #1 results

RANK

CAR. NO.

DRIVER

TEAM

1

17

Mac Clark

DEForce Racing

2

14

Sam Corry

Velocity Racing Development

3

7

Nikita Johnson

Velocity Racing Development

4

20

Alessandro De Tullio

Velocity Racing Development

5

23

Andre Castro

International Motorsport

6

87

Jeremy Fairbairn

Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports

7

71

Ethan Ho

DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports

8

61

Nicholas D’Orlando

DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports

9

55

Noah Ping

Velocity Racing Development

10

19

Jake Bonilla

DEForce Racing

11

67

Elliot Cox

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development

12

8

David Burketh

Future Star Racing

13

24

Earl Tucker

DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports

14

18

Maxwell Jamieson

DEForce Racing

15

9

Bianca Bustamante

IGY6 Motorsports

16

31

Titus Sherlock

Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports

17

25

Jacob Bolen

IGY6 Motorsports

18

53

Alan Isambard

International Motorsport

Clark grabs third straight USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires pole

Mac Clark in the MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI sponsored No. 17 from the DEForce Racing stable grabbed his third straight USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires pole. This time, it was at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

By Steve Wittich

Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) continued his dominance early in the inaugural USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires season, grabbing his third straight pole, covering the 2.3-miles of Barber Motorsports Park in 86.828 seconds (98.097mph). That scorching lap was 0.165 seconds ahead of Road To Indy veteran Andre Castro (International Motorsport).

The following three drivers in the qualifying order, and the only other drivers within a half-second of Clark, were a trio of Velocity Racing Development pilots. Nikita Johnson, Alessandro De Tullio, and Sam Corry, who all stood on the podium at the first event of the season Ozarks International Raceway, will start from the third, fourth, and fifth spots.

Eleven of the 18 drivers that turned laps were within one second of the pole sitter.

The green flag for USF Juniors qualifying flew from the starters stand for a 20-minute shootout at 11:20 am.

The 18-drivers quickly began turning laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course in the quest for at least two hot laps.

Velocity Racing Development’s Nikita Johnson was the quickest driver after the field had completed at least two laps, but there were still 15 minutes remaining in the session.

Jeremy Fairburn spun in Turn 16, coming to rest on the driver’s left of the right-hander. The No. 87 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport machine was high-sided on the curbs and could not continue without the help of the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team. Unfortunately, that necessitated the red flag with just over 13 minutes remaining, and the Fairburn lost his fastest lap.

When the green flag came back out, the No. 23 International Motorsport machine of Andre Castro left a little early. That was a violation of the rules and the quickest driver in the morning practice served a drive-thru as his penalty.

After a couple of laps to get their Cooper Tires up to the optimal operating temperature, lap times began to fall.

The first driver to improve on his lap time was DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark, turning a lap one-hundredth of a second quicker than Johnson.

The second red flag of the session came out with seven minutes remaining on the clock. The cause this time was the No. 20 of Alessandro De Tullio (Velocity Racing Development), who spun in Turn 13. He eventually continued but lost his best lap for causing a red flag. Like Fairburn earlier, he had just turned the third quickest lap.

After two more laps to get their tires warmed up, lap times began to fall, with first Castro and then Clark grabbing the provisional pole.

With two minutes remaining, Johnson and De Tullio inserted bested Castro but were still well behind Clark, holding the provisional pole.

On his last lap, Castro became the second car to turn a sub-87-second lap, grabbing the outside front row spot.

Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama unofficial qualifying results

RANK CAR. NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE
1 17 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 1:26.828
2 23 Andre Castro International Motorsport 1:26.993 -0.165
3 7 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 1:27.119 -0.291
4 20 Alessandro De Tullio Velocity Racing Development 1:27.162 -0.334
5 14 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development 1:27.300 -0.472
6 71 Ethan Ho DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.395 -0.567
7 87 Jeremy Fairbairn Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:27.412 -0.584
8 55 Noah Ping Velocity Racing Development 1:27.517 -0.689
9 19 Jake Bonilla DEForce Racing 1:27.650 -0.822
10 61 Nicholas D’Orlando DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.709 -0.881
11 31 Titus Sherlock Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:27.789 -0.961
12 67 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development 1:28.017 -1.189
13 24 Earl Tucker DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:28.189 -1.361
14 8 David Burketh Future Star Racing 1:28.266 -1.438
15 9 Bianca Bustamante IGY6 Motorsports 1:28.408 -1.58
16 18 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing 1:28.521 -1.693
17 25 Jacob Bolen IGY6 Motorsports 1:29.895 -3.067
18 53 Alan Isambard International Motorsport 1:30.821 -3.993

The first of two USF Juniors races will get the green flag at 2:35 pm (CDT).

Make sure you download the new USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires app at the following locations:

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Castro goes quickest in USF Juniors practice at Barber Motorsports Park

Andre Castro in the Doug Mockett & Company sponsored No. 23 from the International Motorsport stable led the first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires practice at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

By Steve Wittich

The first official session of the 2022 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend at Barber Motorsports Park got underway at 8:45 am on Thursday with USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires practice.

This weekend is the first and only time that five American open-wheel series are on the same bill this season. The USF Juniors are joined by Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

At just before the halfway point of the session, the No. 8 Future Star Racing piloted by David Burketh made light contact with the barriers in Turn 3. The driver, that is making his first USF Juniors start, was able to continue back to pit road. He was able to continue in the session.

After 15 of 30 minutes, Mac Clark’s (DEForce Racing) lap of 86.952 seconds led the way, with Andre Castro (International Motorsport), Alessandro De Tullio (Velocity Racing Development), Nicholas d’Orlando (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Ethan Ho (DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports), Nikita Johnson (Velocity Racing Development), Noah Ping (Velocity Racing Development), Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), Sam Corry (Velocity Racing Development), and Alan Isambard (International Motorsport).

With eight minutes remaining, Castro went quicker than Clark by a scant seven-thousandth of a second faster.

With just over four minutes remaining, the No. 9 IGY6 Motorsports machine of Bianca Bustamante went for an off-track excursion but was able to continue.

Immediately after that, the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development had an off-track excursion in Turn 14. Cox was able to continue, and the track remained green.

Castro, who made a pair of USF2000 starts at Barber Motorsports Park in 2021, and is fifth in the USF Juniors’ points standings, ended the sole practice session at the top of the timing screens.

Double Ozarks International Raceway race winner and championship leader Clark was the second quickest driver.

The entire session ran under green flag conditions, with the field completing 315 laps.

Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama Practice Results

RANK CAR. NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE TOTAL LAPS
1 23 Andre Castro International Motorsport 1:26.865 —— 19
2 17 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 1:26.952 -0.087 20
3 20 Alessandro De Tullio Velocity Racing Development 1:27.084 -0.219 19
4 61 Nicholas D’Orlando DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.510 -0.645 20
5 71 Ethan Ho DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:27.589 -0.724 20
6 7 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 1:27.629 -0.764 16
7 19 Jake Bonilla DEForce Racing 1:27.711 -0.846 19
8 55 Noah Ping Velocity Racing Development 1:27.882 -1.017 20
9 67 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development 1:27.907 -1.042 16
10 87 Jeremy Fairbairn Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:28.040 -1.175 19
11 14 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development 1:28.073 -1.208 19
12 53 Alan Isambard International Motorsport 1:28.073 -1.208 19
13 31 Titus Sherlock Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 1:28.114 -1.249 20
14 8 David Burketh Future Star Racing 1:28.220 -1.355 14
15 24 Earl Tucker DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 1:28.752 -1.887 19
16 18 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing 1:28.783 -1.918 18
17 9 Bianca Bustamante IGY6 Motorsports 1:29.413 -2.548 18

These same drivers will qualify in approximately two hours at 11:20 am. The first of two Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama races rolls off at 2:35 pm.

Unfortunately, poor weather forced the cancelation of Sunday’s third race at Ozarks International Raceway. A replacement race will be added to the schedule, with an announcement later.

Clark completes dream first day of USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires action

DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark on track at the Ozarks International Raceway. The Canadian won his second USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

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

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
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

Clark makes history, blitzing the field to take the first ever USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires pole

DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark on track at the Ozarks International Raceway. The Canadian won the pole for the first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race (Photo Courtesy of Jose Mario Dias/USF Juniors)

By Steve Wittich

Mac Clark, the pilot of the MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI sponsored No. 17, turned a lap of the 3.97-mile, 19-turn Ozarks International Raceway road course in 142.104 seconds. That scorching lap was over one second ahead of the rest of the field.

The Canadian joins Vince Puleo (USF2000), Kim Campbell (Indy Lights), Wink Bancroft (Formula Atlantic), Kyle Kirkwood (F4 United States Championship), Baltazar Leguizamón (Formula Regional Americas Championship), Matt Jaskol (Formula BMW), Axel Matus (F4 NACAM) and Tom Bagley (USAC Super Vee), among others, that won the first pole in a North American

USF Juniors is the fourth series in which the 18-year-old has claimed the pole position. He has also started on the inside front row in the F4 United States Championship, the F2000 Championship Series, and F1600 in Canada.

Starting on the outside of Clark is Sam Cory, a Velocity Racing Development driver making his first-ever start in cars.

Clark’s DEForce Racing teammate Jake Bonilla and the experienced International Motorsport racer Andre Castro are starting on the second row.

The green flag for the first-ever USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires session came out at 10:30 am (CDT), with 17 drivers vying to become the first pole-sitter in series history.

Sticker Cooper Tires was the play for the 20-minutes of qualifying that set the grid for the first of the three Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of The Ozarks races.

With the short qualifying session and the grid for subsequent races potentially on the line, getting quickly up to speed was crucial.

The quickest driver in practice, Clark, had the fastest first and second laps and, after a pair of circuits on the 3.97-mile, 19-turn road course, was followed by Nikita Johnson, Cory, Jake Bonilla, and Ethan Ho in the top five.

Most of the drivers could complete three laps in the first half of the session, with Clark still holding the provisional pole. Titus Sherlock and Andre Castro jumped into the top three on their third laps of the session but still trailed Clark by 1.5 seconds.

Corry and Bonilla improved their times on their fourth laps, getting to within just over one second of the provisional pole sitter Clark.

The red flag for an incident involving the No. 61 DC Autosport w/ Cape Motorsports machine of Nicholas d’Orlando in Turn 10 came out with five of the 20 minutes remaining in the session.

The green flag came back out once the incident was cleaned up, with drivers getting one last hot lap to improve their starting spots.

Unfortunately, the second red flag of the session came out, ending qualifying before the drivers could get up to speed. This one was for an incident involving Maxwell Jamieson.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of The Ozarks Qualifying Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM FAST LAP DIFFERENCE
1 17 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 2:22.104 ——
2 14 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development 2:23.173 -1.069
3 19 Jake Bonilla DEForce Racing 2:23.319 -1.215
4 23 Andre Castro International Motorsport 2:23.394 -1.29
5 31 Titus Sherlock Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 2:23.668 -1.564
6 7 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 2:23.857 -1.753
7 71 Ethan Ho DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 2:24.001 -1.897
8 87 Jeremy Fairbairn Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports 2:24.196 -2.092
9 20 Alessandro De Tullio Velocity Racing Development 2:24.200 -2.096
10 53 Alan Isambard International Motorsport 2:24.221 -2.117
11 67 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development 2:24.294 -2.19
12 61 Nicholas D’Orlando DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 2:24.336 -2.232
13 24 Earl Tucker DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports 2:24.874 -2.77
14 55 Noah Ping Velocity Racing Development 2:25.081 -2.977
15 18 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing 2:26.088 -3.984
16 25 Jacob Bolen IGY6 Motorsports 2:30.113 -8.009
17 9 Bianca Bustamante IGY6 Motorsports 2:33.128 -11.024

The USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires drivers will qualify at 1:15 pm (Central). You can follow along with video and timing and scoring USF Juniors website.

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