Mac Clark continued his USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires mastery by leading throughout this afternoon’s first leg of the Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Clark, from Milton, Ontario, remained under pressure for the first half of the all-green 20-lap race before taking advantage of some in-fighting to pull clear in the closing stages. He and the DEForce Racing team are now unbeaten in three races.
Sam Corry, who started fifth, moved up impressively to finish second. Velocity Racing Development teammate Nikita Johnson, the youngest driver in the field at age 13, completed the podium.
After sweeping both races from the pole last weekend at Ozarks International Raceway in the inaugural USF Juniors event, Clark maintained his form this morning in qualifying by posting the fastest lap and securing his third consecutive Cooper Tires Pole Award.
Clark immediately leapt into the lead at the start, albeit with a train of cars keeping him honest. Andre Castro, who set the fastest time in the lone morning practice session before annexing a front row position in qualifying, held second in the early going ahead of Johnson and Corry, who managed to sneak past another VRD teammate, Alessandro De Tullio, on the opening lap.
The top four eked out a small advantage over De Tullio in the first few laps, but Clark was biding his time out front, anxious not to overwork his tires too soon. Corry moved up one more place on the seventh lap by out-braking Johnson at Turn Five, and then made quick work of Castro, too, to vault into second.
Corry then put the race leader under intense pressure before making a mistake on the half-distance lap. Clark, at the same time, posted what was to stand as his fastest lap of the race, and suddenly his once tenuous lead had ballooned to a relatively comfortable 1.7s over Johnson, with Corry recovering from his error and slotting in behind.
Clark continued to increase his margin before backing off in the closing stages once his victory — and another PFC Award for David and Ernesto Martinez as the winning car owners — had been assured.
“The DEForce Racing and Valkyrie team has given me such a good race car to start off the season. 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,” said Clark. “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 to improve the car and try to extract the most we can for tomorrow’s race.”
Corry managed to redress the situation over his teammate on Lap 14 before pulling away rapidly in second place. Corry also netted the extra bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
Johnson held on for third, despite a late challenge from Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), whose attempt to wrest away the position ended with a broken front wing which dropped him to sixth at the finish behind De Tullio and Castro.
Race 2 will start Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET.