Three races remain in the inaugural USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires season, and four drivers are in contention for a scholarship valued at over $221,000 to ensure graduation into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first official step on the Road to Indy, for 2023. The outcome of the title-chase will be decided during a triple-header event at Circuit of The Americas on September 17-18.
Four talented youngsters have distanced themselves from the pack during a tremendous season of competition, with DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark, 18, having led the point standings ever since dominating the opening two races at the daunting new Ozarks International Raceway in Gravois Mills, Mo., in April. Clark also won the next two races just one week later at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. But since then his superiority has been challenged – and his championship lead trimmed dramatically – by a trio of VRD Racing teammates: Sam Corry, Alessandro De Tullio and Nikita Johnson.
Clark has scored only one win from the most recent nine USF Juniors races — in addition to an impressive victory in his USF2000 debut two weeks ago at Portland International Raceway as a side note — but he still leads the standings by 324 points to 294 over Corry. De Tullio currently lies in third position on 284 points with Johnson next on 274. A total of 99 points are available this weekend — 30 for each race victory, plus bonus points for pole position, fastest race lap and leading most laps.
Intriguingly, the top four contenders have each won one of the four most recent races. Johnson currently rides a streak of five podium finishes, while De Tullio has matched Clark’s tally of wins this year at five, but also failed to start one of the earlier races due to a mechanical problem and was disqualified for a technical infraction following a Road America round.
The title contenders are likely to face plenty of stiff opposition on the 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course, which next month will host the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The new-for-2022 International Motorsports team is still seeking its first victory but has turned plenty of heads through the efforts of Andre Castro and Giorgio Carrara. Both have been regular top-five contenders.
Ethan Ho, fresh off making his USF2000 debut in the season finale at Portland, will be looking to round off his year with DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports on a strong note. In addition, Texas-based Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport will field no fewer than six cars, with regular contenders Jeremy Fairbairn and Titus Sherlock, from being joined by local driver Ryan Shehan, Lucas Fecury and debutants Bailey Cruse and U.S. Formula 4 front-runner Bryson Morris.
The 19-car field will start their weekend with three 30-minute test sessions on Friday, September 16. After another 25-minutes of official practice on Saturday at 9:15am, single qualifying session at 12:10pm will set the initial grid. Race 1 is set to start later in the afternoon at 3:25pm. The championship ultimately will be decided following two more races on Sunday at 9:25am and 1:20m. All times are CDT.
Live streaming of all races can be found at RoadToIndy.TV, the new USF Juniors App as well as usfjuniors.com.