Home News Garcia gets first USF2000 win in season-opening St. Petersburg race

Garcia gets first USF2000 win in season-opening St. Petersburg race

by Ida Wood

Photo: Pabst Racing

Pabst Racing’s Max Garcia claimed his maiden USF2000 victory in the St. Petersburg season opener.

The 14-year-old lost his pole position advantage approaching turn one on the rolling start as he appeared to come off the throttle too early, with Nicolas Giaffone sweeping into the lead on his inside and Evagoras Papasavvas passing him on the outside.

Hudson Schwartz tried passing Carson Etter at turn two but there was not enough room and he spun against the barriers, while Brady Golan spun at turn four and stopped in the path of Tanner DeFabis. A caution period was required, with the cars of three retirees to move away. Golan made it back to the pits with rear wing damage.

Racing resumed several laps later and Papasavvas went side-by-side with Giaffone into turn one. He could not get past, but found himself in the lead three corners later as Giaffone went off at turn four and fell to 17th.

Garcia was soon pressuring Papasavvas, with 2.5 seconds covering the lead group of seven. On lap nine Max Taylor passed Michael Costello for sixth at turn three, and Sam Corry – who had started second – overtook Elliot Cox for third.

The next two laps Garcia tried going for the lead around the outside of turn one, forcing Papasavvas into a lock-up, and despite being able to run alongside him for several corners he could not get a move done. There was drama behind as Nico Christodoulou in fifth half-spun entering turn one and he was hit back into the right direction by Taylor. It broke the latter’s front-left wheel and ended his race, and despite being struck on the front-right wheel there was no damage for Christodoulou and he continued in seventh behind Costello and Quinn Armstrong.

A brief full course yellow period followed and on the next restart Garcia repeated his turn one strategy. Papasavvas again locked up, squeezed Garcia but stayed ahead. Cox meanwhile reclaimed third from Corry and Armstrong was passed by Christodoulou.

The gaps remained small at the front, and Corry was back on the podium on lap 17 of 20. A lap later the lead changed hands as Papasavvas slid wide through turn five and Garcia went by. Once in clear air Garcia set the fastest lap and pulled away to win, and Papasavvas held off Corry for second.

Christodoulou managed to stay in sixth, and Giaffone recovered all the way to 11th place.

Race result (20 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Max Garcia Pabst Racing 30m04.6942s
2 Evagoras Papasavvas JHDD +0.6444s
3 Sam Corry Pabst Racing +1.2325s
4 Elliot Cox SFHR +2.3100s
5 Michael Costello JHDD +2.9836s
6 Nico Christodoulou VRD +3.3987s
7 Quinn Armstrong DEForce Racing +3.9867s
8 Jack Jeffers Exclusive Autosport +4.3734s
9 Ayrton Houk DC Autosport +5.4095s
10 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport +5.9574s
11 Nicolas Giaffone DEForce Racing +6.4365s
12 Cole Kleck VRD +10.0187s
13 Thomas Schrage Exclusive Autosport +10.4987s
14 Xavier Kokai VRD +11.6154s
15 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing +12.1690s
16 Lucas Fecury DEForce Racing +13.5943s
17 Brady Golan DEForce Racing +5 laps
Ret Max Taylor VRD
Ret Carson Etter DC Autosport
Ret Hudson Schwartz Pabst Racing
Ret Tanner DeFabis JHDD
Fastest lap: Garcia, 1m13.7918s