Rowe, Brienza top opening day of USF Pro Championships Spring Training

Gavin Baker

Rowe, Brienza top opening day of USF Pro Championships Spring Training

USF Pro Championships

Rowe, Brienza top opening day of USF Pro Championships Spring Training


The traditional two-day Spring Training test session held in advance of a new season for the USF Pro Championships opened on Monday at Sebring International Raceway. Two of the three series were in action on the historic 3.74-mile airfield circuit in central Florida, with Exclusive Autosport’s Joey Brienza topping the charts in USF Juniors and Myles Rowe, turning the fastest time for Pabst Racing with Force Indy in USF Pro 2000.

An extremely competitive field of 20 USF Pro 2000 cars – the largest since 2014 – saw the top two contenders in each of two 45-minute sessions turning times within 0.1s of each other, with Rowe, who is stepping up the ladder after finishing a close second in last year’s USF2000 Championship, narrowly edging out DEForce Racing’s Kiko Porto.

Rowe’s time of 1m59.207s was just 0.058s clear of Porto, who finished seventh last year after winning the USF2000 championship in 2021.

“Today was amazing,” said Rowe. “I am super blessed to be in the USF Pro 2000 Championship for a full season thanks to Penske Entertainment. We came out of the box swinging and hopefully we will do the same in St. Petersburg next weekend [for the first two races of the season]. It is looking good judging by how today has gone. I am happy the sun is shining, and everyone is here happy and healthy.”

TJ Speed Motorsports made an impressive debut as Lirim Zendeli posted the fastest time during the afternoon’s session, in warmer conditions, at 1m59.451s, just 0.021s faster than teammate and fellow rookie Francesco Pizzi.

Jordan Missing (Pabst Racing) completed the top five overall ahead of 2022 USF2000 champion Michael d’Orlando (Turn 3 Motorsport) and Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing).

The top seven were covered by just 0.337s.

USF Pro 2000 combined times

The USF Pro 2000 contenders will have two more sessions tomorrow, when they will be joined by drivers on the middle rung of the ladder, USF2000.

Meanwhile, the day provided the first official outing for the new Halo-equipped Tatuus JR-23 cars, which will debut this year on the first rung on the ladder. After a trio of 45-minute sessions, Brienza emerged with the fastest lap of the day at 2m11.964s, an average speed of 102.028 mph.

Brienza was quickest in the new Tatuus JR-23 USF Juniors car. Image by Gavin Baker

“Today was good,” said Brienza, who opted to skip the third and final session. “I am really happy with it. Obviously it speaks highly to the team when you have a new package and can come out of the gates running. It also speaks highly to USF Pro Championships as well that they can create a great package that teams can work well with. From driving it, it feels very similar to the USF2000 so I’m really happy with that. It is a great package and this was definitely a positive day. We made some great strides forward and I can’t wait to start the season.”

Brazilian Nicolas Giaffone, whose father Felipe raced IndyCars in the early 2000s, winning at Kentucky Speedway, displayed promising pace by posting the fastest time in two of the three sessions, with a best of 2m12.009s at the end of the day for DEForce Racing.

Teammate Quinn Armstrong was third-fastest at 2m12.066s, narrowly ahead of Ethan Ho (DC Autosport) and Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing).

USF Juniors combined times