Archives for USF Juniors

DEForce Racing’s Brady Golan leads day one of the USF Juniors portion of Fall Combine at IMS

#18 Brady Golan, DEForce Racing, DEForce Racing (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

By Steve Wittich

Brady Golan, who finished tenth in his rookie season of USF Juniors action with DEForce Racing, set an early tone during the first day of the Fall Combine on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The just-turned-16-year-old Texan topped the combined timesheet by a third of a second over Exclusive Autosport returnee and 2022 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion Jack Jeffers.

Golan, Jeffers and his rookie teammate Evan Cooley, who was turning his first laps in a formula car, each led one of the 35-minute test sessions.

Newcomers and teammates to Golan, Jeshua Alianell from the Woodlands, Texas and Bruno Ribeiro from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, had the third and fourth quickest times on the combined timesheet.

The baker’s dozen drivers completed 606 laps, with Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Hudson Potter turned 54 circuits, the most of any driver.

Very unofficial combined USF Juniors timesheet from Saturday of the Fall Combine.

118Brady GolanDEForce Racing90.5127——249
292Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport90.8439-0.3312349
317Jeshua AlianellDEForce Racing90.8658-0.3531250
416Bruno RibeiroDEForce Racing90.9257-0.413250
591Evan CooleyExclusive Autosport91.0293-0.5166245
67Ayden IngrattaJay Howard Driver Development91.1196-0.6069346
715Andre LagartixaVRD Racing91.3367-0.824253
88Timothy CarelJay Howard Driver Development91.5679-1.0552250
96George ArgyrosJay Howard Driver Development91.7731-1.2604118
103Aiden PotterJay Howard Driver Development91.9328-1.4201351
115Ava DobsonJayHoward Driver Development93.1595-2.6468339
1293Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport93.5512-3.0385352
134Hudson PotterJay Howard Driver Development94.5151-4.0024154

USF Pro Season Wraps Up with Championship Celebration

PORTLAND, Ore. – Another exciting season of USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires competition concluded this weekend with champions in two of the three series being crowned at Portland International Raceway.

Myles Rowe, from Brooklyn, N.Y., bounced back from the bitter disappointment of narrowly losing out on the USF2000 title exactly one year ago by triumphing on the next step of the ladder, USF Pro 2000. Rowe also became the first African American driver to secure a major U.S. open-wheel championship.

After being able to contest only partial USF2000 campaigns during the past three seasons due to budgetary constraints, Simon Sikes, from Augusta, Ga., capitalized on his wealth of experience by clinching this year’s championship on Saturday before stylishly adding another race win to his burgeoning resume on Sunday.

Both Rowe and Sikes drove for teams entered by Pabst Racing, marking the long overdue first – and second – Driver Championships for stalwart third-generation racer-turned-team principal Augie Pabst. Pabst Racing also capped a remarkably successful campaign by securing its fifth USF2000 Team Championship since 2017 as well as its first USF Pro 2000 Team Championship.

Pabst became the first team to sweep all four titles since the inception of the “Road to Indy” concept in 2010.

And while USF Juniors champion Nicolas Giaffone, of DEForce Racing, wasn’t on track this weekend after his season wrapped up one week earlier at Circuit of The Americas in Texas, the Brazilian was on hand to soak up the atmosphere. Giaffone also gained some welcome additional exposure by being included in one of the USF2000 live stream broadcasts and taking part in a well-attended champion’s press conference in front of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES media on Saturday.

The accomplishments of all three champions, plus their respective title-winning teams, were acknowledged yesterday evening at the annual Championship Celebration hosted by Andersen Promotions and enjoyed by a strong turnout of drivers, sponsors, officials and guests beside the Columbia River just a few miles from downtown Portland.

A total of more than $1.55 million in Discount Tire Driver Advancement Scholarships and other awards were distributed during the evening which will continue a new raft of drivers’ graduation toward the eventual goal of a career in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Other highlights of the evening included heartfelt tributes to Chris Pantani, who for the past 14 years as Cooper Tires’ Senior Manager, Event Marketing, Sponsorships and Motorsports, has spearheaded a groundbreaking relationship which has propelled countless talented young racing drivers toward successful careers in a variety of motorsports disciplines.

The relationship between Andersen Promotions and Cooper Tires will shortly come to an end, although the globally acclaimed ladder system will continue to grow in stature following the recent announcement that Continental Tire will become the Official Tire and Presenting Partner of the USF Pro Championships beginning in 2024.

In the meantime, teams and drivers will have an opportunity to commence preparations for the 2024 season with the traditional USF Pro Fall Combine open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on October 21/22.

USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires Award Winners:

USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires

Champion: Discount Tire Driver Advancement Scholarship package valued at $664,500 to advance to INDY NXT in 2024 – Myles Rowe, Pabst Racing with Force Indy

Second Place ($40,000) – Kiko Porto, DEForce Racing

Third Place ($20,000) – Salvador de Alba, Exclusive Autosport

Team Champion ($10,000) – Pabst Racing with Force Indy

Cooper Tires Rookie of the Year ($7,500) – Myles Rowe, Pabst Racing with Force Indy

Hi-Tide Spirit Award ($1,000) – Salvador de Alba, Exclusive Autosport

Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000 certificate) – Jordan Missig, Pabst Racing

YACademy Move of the Year ($1,000) – Jordan Missig, Pabst Racing

Makita Tools Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Tom Vasi, Pabst Racing

Carl Haas Golden Wishbone Award ($1,000 certificate) – Pabst Racing

Original Artwork by Jim Swintal – Myles Rowe, Pabst Racing with Force Indy

USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires

Champion: Discount Tire Driver Advancement Scholarship package valued at $433,200 to advance to USF Pro 2000 in 2024 – Simon Sikes, Pabst Racing

Second Place ($30,000) – Nikita Johnson, VRD Racing

Third Place ($15,000) – Lochie Hughes, Jay Howard Driver Development

Team Champion ($7,500) – Pabst Racing

Hyperco Rookie of the Year ($2,500) – Lochie Hughes, Jay Howard Driver Development

Hi-Tide Spirit Award ($1,000) – Simon Sikes, Pabst Racing

Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Chase Gardner, Exclusive Autosport

YACademy Move of the Year ($1,000) – Max Garcia, Pabst Racing

Makita Tools Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Jim Giustino, Pabst Racing

Carl Haas Golden Wishbone Award ($1,100) – Jay Howard Driver Development

Original Artwork by Jim Swintal – Simon Sikes, Pabst Racing

USF Junior Presented by Cooper Tires

Champion: Discount Tire Driver Advancement Scholarship package valued at $241,890 to advance to USF2000 in 2024 – Nicholas Giaffone, DEForce Racing

Second Place ($25,000) – Quinn Armstrong, DEForce Racing

Third Place ($12,500) – Jack Jeffers, Exclusive Autosport

Team Champion ($7,500) – DEForce Racing

Cooper Tires Rookie of the Year ($2,500) – Nicolas Giaffone, DEForce Racing

Hi-Tide Spirit Award ($1,000) – Quinn Armstrong, DEForce Racing

Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Giovanni Cabrera, Exclusive Autosport

YACademy Move of the Year ($1,000) – Erick Schotten, Exclusive Autosport

Makita Tools Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Omar Lopez, DEForce Racing

Carl Haas Golden Wishbone Award ($1,100) – VRD Racing

Original Artwork by Jim Swintal – Nicolas Giaffone, DEForce Racing


Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions: “Another fantastic year of young, talented drivers on all three levels of the USF Pro Championships putting out exciting racing as they learn and train to move all the way up to INDYCAR. Tonight, we honored the results that these fine young drivers achieved this season.”

Chris Pantani, Senior Manager, Event Marketing, Sponsorships and Motorsports, Cooper Tires: “The banquet is a culmination of all the activities we have throughout the year. We look forward to St. Pete, we look forward to the ovals but the banquet itself truly brings all the teams together to unify and celebrate our champions and those moving forward.”

Myles Rowe, USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires Champion: “The evening was great. The support of everyone who came was phenomenal. It was a great event and I am just super grateful to be here to see this mission come to fruition and be completed. I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who came and everyone who supported me.”

Simon Sikes, USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires Champion: “It has been an amazing Championship Celebration here in Portland from Andersen Promotions and everyone at the USF Pro Championships. I am so thankful to be here and see everyone’s faces. It really means the world to me and my fellow champions to be able to stand up here tonight and just enjoy all the hard work that has gone in over the entire 2023 season. It’s been incredible and I am just looking forward to next year.”

Nicolas Giaffone, USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires Champion: “This has been a tremendous evening. I enjoyed seeing everyone for one last time before the season officially ends. I loved having Dan [Andersen] and Chris [Pantani] beside me taking photos. This is an experience I will cherish forever. It is one of my best memories – my first season in the U.S., to be able to this, it is a dream come true for me and I hope I can be here again in this position in the coming years.”

Jeffers Takes USF Juniors Win in Hometown Race at COTA

Austin, TX – Jack Jeffers claimed his second consecutive win in USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires competition with a thrilling battle in the first of the Cooper Tires Circuit of The Americas Grand Prix tripleheader. Jeffers, 17, from nearby San Antonio entered the weekend tied for second in the championship standings for Exclusive Autosport and now holds a 23-point advantage over third with just two races remaining.

Had Jeffers finished second in today’s 12-lap race around the 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course, DEForce Racing’s Nicolas Giaffone, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, would have accumulated enough points to land the championship title today. Instead, with his third-place finish, Giaffone will head into the second round tomorrow with a 64-point advantage and 66 total points possible on the table.

He will need merely to start the first of two races tomorrow to clinch the Discount Tire Driver Development Scholarship valued at $241,890 to advance to USF2000 in 2024.

Max Taylor, of Greenwich, Conn., drove a fine race to finish second, notching his second consecutive podium for VRD Racing after a maiden win in the last round at Road America.


Jeffers led the field to the green flag after securing his second Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season with Taylor alongside and DEForce Racing teammates Quinn Armstrong, from Newcastle, NSW, Australia, and Giaffone sharing the second row.

The opening lap started clean but had championship implications as contact occurred between Armstrong and VRD Racing’s Jimmie Lockhart, from Boca Raton, Fla., who started fifth, sent Armstrong into the pits with a cut tire. Armstrong, who entered the weekend tied on points with Jeffers, fell to the back of the field and eventually finished 14th – dropping to third in the point standings.

Jeffers lost the lead to Taylor on the second lap, with Taylor eventually building up a gap of 1.018 seconds. But Jeffers continued to whittle away at the margin and was able to retake the lead on Lap 10 which he maintained to the end.

Giaffone had dropped to sixth in the opening tours but was able to regain track positions while also posting the fastest lap of the race.

Filipina Bianca Bustamante, who made a return with Exclusive Autosport prior to the F1 Academy event at COTA in October, took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award after a gain of five positions to finish 10th.

Exclusive Autosport’s Michael Duncalfe earned the PFC Award as the winning car owner.

Two races remain on the docket for tomorrow at 11:00 am and 3:55 pm CDT.

Provisional championship points after 14 of 16 races:

1. Nicolas Giaffone, 361

2. Jack Jeffers, 297

3. Quinn Armstrong, 274

4. Joey Brienza, 241

5. Jimmie Lockhart, 231

6. Max Taylor, 214

7. Ethan Barker, 192

8. Lucas Fecury, 187

9. Brady Golan, 177

10. Erick Schotten, 177

Jack Jeffers (#92 Corpay Cross Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23): “It feels amazing to win at home. I’ve grown up watching F1 races on this track and watching a bunch of different races, and being able to drive on it is amazing, and better yet, to win on it. It feels special.

“The pass for the win was calculated, and I was planning it ahead of time. I had my crew chief Michael (Duncalfe) on the radio, and Lou (d’Agostino) and Conner (Clubine) telling me how to set it up and I have to thank them for keeping the car good through the entire race. The set-up was perfect from start to end. I set the pass up as planned – I knew Turn 1 is a big passing opportunity and it’s a wide track and I knew I could send it in there and I knew he would see me and leave me room. So I sent it down the inside and was able to make the move stick and we were side-by-side through the Esses, but I came out ahead. I truly want to thank Exclusive Autosport, Corpay, and my parents for giving me this opportunity.”

Max Taylor (#33 PINK ETF/Susan G Komen Foundation-VRD Racing Tatuus JR-23): “We qualified P2 and we had a good start. I was able to take the lead early on from Jack (Jeffers) after he made a mistake. I think from there I led for most of the way. I feel like I ran a pretty smart race, just managing the gap, but it’s quite difficult here with the tow. I just made one mistake too many and he was able to get around me, and then I was not able to get back around him with the tires and track heating up. So it was P2 in the end.”

Nicolas Giaffone (#19 OMNI-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “We started P4 and it was a hell of a race. I mean, it was pandemonium out there. People were going crazy. I felt like I had the biggest target the world ever had on my back, but I’m happy that we were able to manage to come home P3. I mean, after the start we had and after the first few laps, I was just avoiding a crash because it was pretty crazy. I’m pretty happy to finish P3. I know the job is not done (clinching the title) and I think we missed by two or three points, but a start tomorrow will probably get it done. We have to start the race, and hopefully we can clinch the title tomorrow.”

Jack Jeffers (c) Max Taylor (l) and Nicolas Giaffone (r), Photo Credit: Gavin Baker Photography

Rowe, Giaffone Close in on Titles and Scholarships at Circuit of The Americas

PALMETTO, Fla. – As the 2023 season draws towards its conclusion, championship titles and Discount Tire Career Enhancement Scholarships valued at over $900,000 will be at stake when two of the three rungs on the USF Pro Championship Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder convene this weekend at Circuit of The Americas, near Austin, Texas.

Myles Rowe, from Brooklyn, N.Y., holds a healthy 81-point advantage at the more senior level, USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires. He is chasing graduation to INDY NXT by Firestone in 2024. Five races – two this weekend which will comprise the Discount Tire Circuit of the Americas Grand Prix at the 3.427-mile home of the United States Grand Prix, followed by a tripleheader season finale one week later at Portland International Raceway, in Portland, Ore. – will determine whether Rowe can achieve his goal and erase the memory of 12 months ago, when he fell agonizingly short of clinching the USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires title at the final hurdle.

Meanwhile, if Brazilian Nicolas Giaffone can finish ahead, or within a position or two, of his two main rivals in the first of three races that will conclude the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires campaign, he will have done enough to secure the championship and a scholarship valued at $241,890 to progress into USF2000 next season.

USF Pro 2000 Entry List

USF Juniors Entry List

Redemption for Rowe?

Even though Rowe was unable to claim last year’s USF2000 championship, continued support from Penske Entertainment did allow him to make the step up into USF Pro 2000 for the 2023 season with the Pabst Racing with Force Indy team. He immediately demonstrated that such faith was not misplaced. 

After a third-place finish in the opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., Rowe sped to his maiden victory the following day, then swept both rounds of the subsequent doubleheader event at Sebring International Raceway. He has continued to lead the point standings ever since. Rowe also has accumulated more wins (a total of five), poles positions (four), fastest race laps (three) and podium finishes (seven) than any of his rivals.

Rowe is one of only two drivers to have earned multiple wins and pole positions during an intensely competitive USF Pro 2000 season. The other, coincidentally, is the young man who beat him to the top USF2000 honors in 2022: Michael d’Orlando. After encountering a series of setbacks and misfortunes during the early part of the season, Turn 3 Motorsport’s d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., has vaulted from a distant 11th in the point standings to fourth on the strength of three wins and three poles.

Currently 93 points adrift of Rowe with only five races remaining, d’Orlando will need everything to fall his way if he is to stand any chance of winning back-to-back titles. But he remains very much in the fight for second place along with the likes of Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), from Recife, Brazil, who preceded d’Orlando as USF2000 championship winner in 2021 and Mexican stock car racer Salvador de Alba (Exclusive Autosport).

Other contenders will include TJ Speed Motorsports teammates Francesco Pizzi, from Rome, Italy, and Lirim Zendeli, from Bochum, Germany and fellow rookie Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing), from Scottsdale, Ariz., who has also impressed after finishing a close third in last year’s USF2000 title-chase behind d’Orlando and Rowe.

A full field this weekend also will include five drivers seeking to dip a toe in the USF Pro 2000 waters: USF2000 race winners Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) from Toronto, Ont., Canada and Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing), from Gulfport, Fla.; Jorge Garciarce (DEForce Racing), from Guadalajara, Mexico; Avery Towns (Exclusive Autosport), from Allen, Texas; and Frankie Mossman (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Newport Beach, Calif.

Both Clark and Johnson are attempting to become the first drivers to win on all three levels of the current ladder system.

A pair of 30-minute test sessions on Friday, August 25, will allow drivers to gain experience prior to 30 minutes of official practice at 9:25 a.m. CDT on Saturday. A lone qualifying session at 1:50 p.m. will help set the starting positions for the two races later in the day at 5:20 p.m. and the following morning at 8:00 a.m.

Giaffone Closes on Title

Nicolas Giaffone has been the dominant performer during the second year of USF Juniors. The 18-year-old son of former INDYCAR race winner Felipe Giaffone has won six times and earned five pole positions for DEForce Racing, which has catapulted him to a commanding 72-point lead entering this weekend’s season finale.

Even with a total of 99 points still up for grabs, Giaffone, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, will require merely a fourth-place finish from the first of this weekend’s three races as part of the Cooper Tires Circuit of the Americas Grand Prix to ensure his graduation to USF2000 next year.

DEForce teammate Quinn Armstrong, from Newcastle, Australia, currently lies second in the title chase, although a strong recent weekend at Road America for Jack Jeffers (Exclusive Autosport), from San Antonio, Texas, has meant the pair are now tied on points.

Joey Brienza, from Golden, Colo., held second place for much of the season after scoring a win and two second-place finishes for Exclusive Autosport in the opening event, but has slipped to fourth and will be looking to complete his rookie season on a high note.

Others to watch include the VRD Racing trio of Jimmie Lockhart, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Max Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J., who scored his first win at Road America, and 14-year-old Hudson Schwartz, from Arlington, Va., who missed the opening event of the season but has rapidly developed into a strong contender.

In addition, Filipina Bianca Bustamante will make a return to the series in which she started her career last year with Exclusive Autosport as she gains some extra track time prior to the F1 Academy event at Circuit of The Americas in October. Bustamante recently scored her first F1 Academy feature race win at Monza in Italy.

A recent surge of interest in USF Juniors continues with three more youngsters set to make their debut this weekend: Aidan Potter, from Lexington, Ky., and Dane Scott, from Norcross, Ga., both with Jay Howard Driver Development, and Connor Roberts, from Queensland, Australia, with DC Autosport.

The largest USF Juniors field this year, comprising 18 drivers, will be able to gain some familiarity with the challenging track on Friday during two half-hour test sessions, followed by 30 minutes of official practice at 5:30 p.m. A crucial single qualifying session will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, prior to the first race at 3:30 p.m. Two more 15-lap races will take place on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. and 3:55 p.m.

Full coverage can be found on the free USF Pro Championships App, YouTube channel and the and websites.

Giaffone leads DEForce Racing 1-2-3 in USF Juniors at Barber Motorsports Park

#19 Nicolas Giaffone, DEForce Racing, OMNI, DEForce Racing

By Steve Wittich

Second-generation racer Nicolas Giaffone and DEForce Racing continued their domination that began in qualifying on Thursday afternoon.

The Brazilian led a one-two-three finish for the Houston, Texas-based DEForce Racing, the team’s third straight USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires win at Barber Motorsports Park.

Giaffone finished ahead of his teammates, Australian Quinn Armstrong and Brazilian Lucas Fecury.

The David and Ernesto Martinez-led squad has won three of four races this season and eight of the 19 series races in the last two seasons.

Fecury’s visit to the podium is his first as he fought off hard-charging championship leader Joey Brienza.

Giaffone scored max points, including a bonus point for his pole win, leading the most laps and setting the quickest race lap, taking over the championship lead by a slim three points.

Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing) made up two positions, finishing in the top five for the third straight race.

After one pace lap behind the pace car, the front row of Giaffone and Fecury brought the field to 15 cars to the green flag.

The field made it cleanly through Turn 1, but with incidents in Turn 2 and Turn 5, the yellow flag flew from the timing stand before the drivers completed one lap.

The No. 29 VRD Racing machine of newcomer Hudson Schwartz ended up backward in the gravel outside of Turn 2 after contact from Carson Etter in the No. 57 from the DC Autosport stable. Etter was penalized for incident responsibility, moving to the back of the pack for the restart.

The incident in Turn 5 involved Jack Jeffers, the driver who started fourth.

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got both cars going, but Schwartz lost two laps, and Jeffers No. 92 came to pit road and could not continue.

The running order under caution was Giaffone, Armstrong, Fecury, Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport), Erick Schotten (Exclusive Autosport), Max Taylor (VRD Racing), Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing), Ethan Barker (VRD Racing), Juan Felipe Pedraza (Ram Racing), Brady Golan (DEForce Racing), Etter, Giovanni Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport), Schwartz (VRD Racing) and Jeffers (Exclusive Autosport).

On the first lap under green, Brienza pressured Ho for fourth while Lockhart worked on Schotten for sixth. Lockhart was able to get the move completed moving into sixth.

On the next lap, points leader Brienza got by Ho for fourth, taking after Fecury for the final spot on the podium.

On Lap 8, Sebring International Raceway race winner Armstrong turned the race’s quickest lap, moving in on his teammate in the lead.

At the crossed flags signifying the halfway point of the race, Giaffone’s lead over his teammate was down to 0.7 seconds, with the front two holding almost a four-second gap to Fecury in third.

After losing two spots earlier, F4 United States Championship race winner Lockhart moved back to sixth with seven of the 20 laps remaining.

The gap between Giaffone and Armstrong remained constant at under one second. The best battles on the track were between Ho and Lockhart for fifth and Taylor and Schottten for seventh.

Over the next two laps, Giaffone grew his lead to over two seconds with a pair of laps over a half-second quicker than his Aussie teammate Armstrong.

With four laps remaining, Lockhart moved to fifth, while Taylor got around Schotten for seventh. In front of that action, Coloradan Brienza was putting pressure on Fecury for the final spot on the podium.

With three laps remaining, Giaffone had a 2.6-second lead over Armstrong, who had six seconds over his teammate Fecury.

Brienza continued to put pressure on Fecury, crossing the line less than half a second behind Fecury over the next two laps, looking inside in Turn 5 on the final lap before settling for fourth, ending his string of podium finishes to start the season.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #1 Unofficial Results

119Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing20 LAPS
216Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing-4.721
317Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing-10.556
491Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport-10.774
548Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing-14.897
668Ethan HoDC Autosport-17.194
733Max TaylorVRD Racing-21.317
890Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport-22.001
912Ethan BarkerVRD Racing-22.328
1018Brady GolanDEForce Racing-30.709
1155Juan Felipe PedrazaRam Racing-31.754
1257Carson EtterDC Autosport-57.251
1393Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport-66.797
1429Hudson SchwartzVRD Racing-2 LAPS
1592Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport– 18 LAPS

The second USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race is scheduled to get the checkered flag at 4:15 pm.

Two USF Juniors qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park. Two dominant performances by Nicolas Giaffone and DEForce Racing

#19 Nicolas Giaffone, DEForce Racing, OMNI, DEForce Racing Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

By Steve Wittich

The second USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying sessions at Barber Motorsports Park finished like the first, with dominant performances by second-generation driver Nicolas Giaffone and DEForce Racing. 

The 18-year-old from Brazilian was over half a second quicker than his teammates Lucas Fecury and Quinn Armstrong, lowering his track record at Barber Motorsports Park to 85.738 seconds. 

Fecury rounds out the all-Brazilian front row, with Armstrong and reigning Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion Jack Jeffers starting from the second row. 

The 15 USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires drivers were the first cars on track early on Friday morning at Barber Motorsports Park. 

Overnight rain cleared the track of any rubber, but with mostly sunny skies at 7:45 am, the track was dry. The ambient temperature was 66F, and the track temperature was 73F.

VRD Racing’s Jimmie Lockhart was the early leader, but as the drivers got their tires up to temperature laps, times were falling quickly. 

DEForce Racing’s Giaffone, Armstrong and Fecury waited longer than their competitors to head out on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course, but it didn’t take long for them to go to the top of the timing screens. 

Giaffone held the provisional pole at the halfway mark of the 20-minute session, with Jack Jeffers (Exclusive Autosport), Armstrong, Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport) and Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing) rounding out the top five. 

Giaffone was the first driver to go under 86 seconds and, on his sixth lap of qualifying, lowered the track record he set on Thursday afternoon. 

For the second straight qualifying session, the No. 33 of Max Taylor (VRD Racing) brought out a red flag with just under five minutes remaining in qualifying. This time, the driver from New Jersey spun in Turn 1. 

Giaffone’s teammates Fecury and Armstrong had just set the second and third quickest laps matching the first qualifying session. 

The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team quickly cleared the car of Taylor, and the track went green, with drivers allowed to complete one timed lap. 

Nobody improved, giving Giaffone a second pole, the fourth at Barber Motorsports Park for DEForce Racing. 

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #2 – USF Juniors unofficial qualifying results

119Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing1:25.738
217Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing1:26.253-0.515
316Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing1:26.272-0.534
492Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport1:26.400-0.662
591Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport1:26.477-0.739
648Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing1:26.482-0.744
768Ethan HoDC Autosport1:26.776-1.038
890Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport1:26.899-1.161
933Max TaylorVRD Racing1:26.967-1.229
1018Brady GolanDEForce Racing1:26.980-1.242
1129Hudson SchwartzVRD Racing1:27.149-1.411
1212Ethan BarkerVRD Racing1:27.304-1.566
1355Juan Felipe PedrazaRam Racing1:27.496-1.758
1457Carson EtterDC Autosport1:28.898-3.16
1593Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport1:30.763-5.025

The pair of Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama races will get the green flag at 10:15 am and 4:15 pm.

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Giaffone and DEForce Racing dominate first USF Juniors qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park

By Steve Wittich

DEForce Racing rookie Nicolas Giaffone in the OMNI sponsored No. 19 from the DEForce Racing stable during a wet practice session at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography)

A dominant performance by rookie Nicolas Giaffone capped off a stellar qualifying effort for DEForce Racing, who will start from the first three spots in tomorrow’s first USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race.

The 18-year-old Giaffone’s pole-winning lap of 85.802 seconds was over a half second ahead of his teammates Lucas Fecury and Quinn Armstrong.

Exclusive Autosport rookie and defending Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series champion Jack Jeffers rounds out the second row.

Starting from the third row is Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), the only driver with race experience, Barber Motorsports Park, and current points leader Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport).

After two damp test sessions and one practice session on a drying 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park natural terrain road course, the 15 USF Juniors drivers were met with dry conditions for their first of two qualifying sessions for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Alabama.

With 20 minutes of guaranteed green flag time, getting up to speed quickly was paramount.

It only took the new JR-23 two laps to go under the track record set by DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark last April.

After each driver had completed three laps, Fecury held the provisional pole with a lap at 86.379 seconds, followed closely by his DEForce Racing teammates Giaffone and Armstrong.

Second-generation racer Giaffone was the first driver to break the 86-second barrier, grabbing the provisional pole with just over half of qualifying remaining. The Brazilian’s lap was a full half-second ahead of Fecury as drivers continued to search for more speed.

The red flag came out with a little under five minutes remaining for a car in the tire barrier at the crest of the hill between Turn 13 and 14. From reports on the ground (we just arrived in Birmingham), it was the No. 33 of Max Taylor (VRD Racing).

Unfortunately, that brought the session to a close, with Giaffone winning a third straight pole for DEForce Racing at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Alabama Race #1 – USF Juniors unofficial qualifying results

119Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing1:25.802——
217Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing1:26.379-0.577
316Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing1:26.396-0.594
492Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport1:26.504-0.702
568Ethan HoDC Autosport1:26.612-0.81
691Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport1:26.620-0.818
748Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing1:26.790-0.988
833Max TaylorVRD Racing1:26.942-1.14
990Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport1:27.095-1.293
1018Brady GolanDEForce Racing1:27.166-1.364
1129Hudson SchwartzVRD Racing1:27.384-1.582
1212Ethan BarkerVRD Racing1:27.638-1.836
1355Juan Felipe PedrazaRam Racing1:28.314-2.512
1457Carson EtterDC Autosport1:29.457-3.655
1593Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport1:31.992-6.19

Second generation racer Giaffone passes his way to first USF Juniors victory

#19 Nicolas Giaffone, DEForce Racing, OMNI, DEForce Racing Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

By Steve Wittich

The call to fire the baker’s dozen Elite Engine-prepared 2.0 liter power plants for the second race of the weekend came at 9:15 am.

After one lap behind the USF Pro Championships pace car, the front row of Exclusive Autosport teammates Joey Brienza and Jack Jeffers brought the field down the long front straight to the green flag.

Brienza was the first driver to get the fast left-hand Turn 1, quickly grabbing the lead for the second straight race. Behind the pole sitter, Jeffers and Max Taylor (Velocity Racing Development), who started third, went side-by-side through Turn 1 and the on the run to Turn 3, with the No. 33 having the preferred inside position for the tight corner, he took second.

Race control announced that the start was under review but deemed it to be acceptable.

Later that lap, Jimmie Lockhart (Velocity Racing Development) and Nicolas Giaffone (DEForce Racing) also got by the outside pole sitter after a mistake, with Jeffers dropping down the running order to sixth.

The running order at the end of the first lap was Brienza, Lockhart, Taylor, Giaffone, Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Jeffers, Ethan Baker (Velocity Racing Development), Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing), Lucas Fecury (DEForce Racing), Brady Golan (DEForce Racing), Erick Schotten (Exclusive Autosport), Giovanni Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport) and Carson Etter (DC Autosport), who started from the pit lane.

On the second lap, Lockhart, Taylor, and Giaffone were battling for the last two spots on the podium, with Giaffone running through the grass at the exit of Turn before rejoining and grabbing third.

After three laps, Birenza’s lead was already a comfortable 2.5 seconds, with second-generation driver Giaffone getting around Taylor for second after turning the race’s quickest lap to that point.

Giaffone, in the OMNI-sponsored No. 19, continued to turn quick laps, dropping that 2.5-second gap to 0.8 seconds as the leaders crossed under the crossed flags to signify the halfway point of the ten-lap race.

Lockhart got by his Velocity Racing Development teammate in Turn 1 at the start of the sixth lap to move into second place.

Much like yesterday, Brienza faced immense pressure from a DEForce Racing driver.

On Lap 7, Giaffone looked outside Brienza in Turn 1 before dropping in behind the UBS-sponsored No. 91 of Brienza. The 18-year-old Brazilan then made a brave move inside Turn 3, grabbing the lead for the first time.

Behind the battle for the lead, Jeffers made an impressive pass of Lockhart and Taylor on the inside of the final corner, recovering to finish on the podium for the second straight race.

The Velocity Racing Development teammates Taylor and Lockhart dropped down the running order after making contact, with the No. 33 of Taylor coming to pit road for repairs.

After the race, Lockhart was assessed a 30-second post-race penalty for avoidable contact.

On Lap 8, leader Giaffone made a mistake on a downshift in Turn 3, causing the rear end of his car to break three and bound through the grass at the exit of Turn 3 for the second time. That allowed Brienza to get beside Giaffone as they got to the bumpy braking zone of the Turn 7 Hairpin. Giaffone took the defensive inside line and held the lead.

Giaffone’s lead was a slim 0.4 seconds when they started the second last lap.

Giaffone’s lap eight was much better, allowing him to cross the line 0.8 seconds ahead of Brienza to start the final lap. The pole-sitter got close in the second half of the last lap, but Giaffone held on to collect his first win.

Behind the podium runners, Ho and Thursday’s winner were engaged in an entertaining tussle for fourth, with the DC Autosport driver of the Triple S Suspensions sponsored No. 68 crossing the line six-hundredths of a second ahead of Armstrong.

Cooper Tires USF Juniors Grand Prix Of Sebring Race #2 – unofficial results

119Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing10 LAPS2:10.884
291Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport-0.2442:11.704
392Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport-2.0052:11.380
468Ethan HoDC Autosport-5.722:11.584
516Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing-5.782:11.622
612Ethan BarkerVRD Racing-7.0522:11.408
717Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing-7.3772:11.746
818Brady GolanDEForce Racing-20.8552:12.531
990Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport-23.8022:13.387
1048Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing-38.4112:11.115
1157Carson EtterDC Autosport-50.1432:13.053
1293Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport-62.8852:17.850
1333Max TaylorVRD Racing-1 Lap2:11.853

The final USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires race of the season-opening event will get the green flag at 4:55 pm. Brienza will start on the pole for the third straight race, with Giaffone starting beside him on the front row.

DEForce Racing’s Quinn Armstrong grabs win in first USF Juniors race of the 2023 season

#16 Quinn Armstrong, DEForce Racing, NDA, DEForce Racing

By Steve Wittich

The call to start the 2.0-liter Elite Engine prepared, 150 hp four-cylinder power plants came from race control at 4:15 pm.

After one lap behind the pace car, the front row of Exclusive Autosport teammates Joey Brienza and Jack Jeffers brought the field to the green flag on the wide concrete front straight.

When the green flag flew, the field went four wide behind the front two before funneling into Turn 1. The baker’s dozen cars made it cleanly through the first lap with the running order Birenza, Jeffers, Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing), Jimmie Lockhart (Velocity Racing Development), Max Taylor (Velocity Racing Development), Ethan Ho (DC Autosport), Nicolas Giaffone (DEForce Racing), Ethan Barker (Velocity Racing Development), Brady Golan (DEForce Racing), Erick Schotten (Exclusive Autosport), Lucas Fecury (DEForce Racing), Carson Etter (DC Autosport) and Giovanni Cabrera (Exclusive Autosport).

Armstrong, the driver that led practice on Thursday morning, moved into second place, going to the inside of Jeffers in Turn 1 to start the second lap.

Also gaining spots on the second lap was Giaffone and Fecury

On the second lap, Taylor, who was running fifth, spun in Turn 3, with Ho spinning to avoid hitting the No. 33. Both drivers could continue, keeping the race green.

Unfortunately, Taylor was forced to pit lane to replace the front wing on his PINK ETF/Susan G Komen Foundation sponsored car, returning to the track a lap down.

As they began Lap 3, the No. 16 of Armstrong was putting pressure on Brienza, forcing the pole-sitter to take an inside defensive line into Turn 1.

Brienza altered his line in the final corner, which, combined with being quicker in Turn 1, meant the Coloradan solidified his lead over the next two laps.

Armstrong took the lead with an inside move in Turn 17 on that sixth lap after a fluke mechanical glitch meant Birezna was stuck in fourth gear. Giaffone, Golan and Ho all gained spots on the same lap.

The battle for fourth was raging on Lap 7, with Giaffone, Lockhart, Barker and Fecury covered by less than a second.

With three laps remaining, Armstrong’s lead was 0.7 seconds, with Jeffers going quicker than the front two to enter the fight for the lead.

Armstrong slid out of Sunshine Bend on the penultimate lap, crossing the line only a half-second ahead of Brienza.

On that eighth lap, Brienza was hounding Armstrong through Turn 10 before falling back in the second half of the lap after bending a toe-link after hitting a curb while trying to make up time, getting the white flag 1.8 seconds behind the leader.

Brienza nursed his UBS sponsored No. 91 home finishing second, with his Exclusive Autosport teammate Jeffers coming home third.

Cooper Tires Grand Prix Of Sebring (USF Juniors) Race #1 results

116Quinn ArmstrongDEForce Racing
291Joey BrienzaExclusive Autosport
392Jack JeffersExclusive Autosport
419Nicolas GiaffoneDEForce Racing
512Ethan BarkerVRD Racing
617Lucas FecuryDEForce Racing
748Jimmie LockhartVRD Racing
868Ethan HoDC Autosport
918Brady GolanDEForce Racing
1090Erick SchottenExclusive Autosport
1157Carson EtterDC Autosport
1293Giovanni CabreraExclusive Autosport
1333Max TaylorVRD Racing

The second race of the weekend is set for a 9:20 am start on Saturday.

Joey Brienza grabs first USF Juniors pole of 2023 with his teammate Jack Jeffers making it an all Exclusive Autosport front row

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.
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