Home News Hughes edges Johnson to pole for USF2000 opener in St. Petersburg

Hughes edges Johnson to pole for USF2000 opener in St. Petersburg

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Jay Howard Driver Development’s Lochie Hughes claimed pole position for the opening race of the USF2000 season by a tiny margin in St. Petersburg.

Hughes and Velocity Racing Development pair Nikita Johnson and Sam Corry were the drivers to beat throughout qualifying, which was stopped several times.

Johnson went to the top first, then Hughes set a 1m14.6895s lap to comfortably lead the way. Elliot Cox moved into second place after five minutes, then Hughes was shuffled down to fourth by Chase Gardner, Simon Sikes and Danny Dyszelski.

Improvements from Corry and Sikes put them into the top positions a minute later, and Johnson rose to third, but Hughes had clean air on track and he was able to leap them all by becoming the first driver to lap sub-1m14s.

The session was then red flagged after Sikes slid all the way through Turn 3, into the barriers on the outside and then to a stop down the straight to Turn 4.

It was a lengthy stoppage, and Sikes did not return to track. However he had only been knocked down from second to third on the timesheet when the next red flag period occurred, this time caused by Gardner crashing at Turn 8.

Corry went fastest just before the second stoppage occurred, and Evagoras Papasavvas had risen up to fourth.

Qualifying resumed with just under five minutes remaining on the clock, and improvements started to come in during the final two minutes. Johnson set a 1m13.1640s to put himself on provisional pole, 0.3314 seconds ahead of Papasavvas, and with 40 seconds to go Hughes recorded a lap just 0.0195s slower than Johnson’s benchmark.

Corry moved back into third as the chequered flag waved, and Hughes found even more pace to better Johnson by a slim 0.0804s.

Papasavvas was 0.4s back in fourth, and a personal best set at the very end put Trey Burke past Future Star Racing team-mate Andre Castro into fifth.

Nicholas d’Orlando was one of the last to cross the line and qualified seventh, ahead of Zack Ping, Joey Brienza and Dyszelski.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lochie Hughes JHDD 1m13.0836s 15
2 Nikita Johnson Velocity Racing Development 1m13.1640s +0.0804s 16
3 Sam Corry Velocity Racing Development 1m13.3569s +0.2733s 16
4 Evagoras Papasavvas JHDD 1m13.4954s +0.4118s 16
5 Trey Burke Future Star Racing 1m13.5984s +0.5148s 11
6 Andre Castro Future Star Racing 1m13.5993s +0.5157s 13
7 Nicholas d’Orlando Exclusive Autosport 1m13.7408s +0.6572s 16
8 Zack Ping Velocity Racing Development 1m13.7843s +0.7007s 16
9 Joey Brienza Exclusive Autosport 1m13.8184s +0.7348s 12
10 Danny Dyszelski Velocity Racing Development 1m13.8212s +0.7376s 16
11 Jacob Douglas Exclusive Autosport 1m13.8609s +0.7773s 16
12 Louka St.-Jean JHDD 1m13.8665s +0.7829s 16
13 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 1m13.9397s +0.8561s 15
14 Simon Sikes Pabst Racing 1m13.9728s +0.8892s 5
15 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing 1m14.0153s +0.9317s 16
16 Al Morey JHDD 1m14.1798s +1.0962s 15
17 Maxwell Jamieson DEForce Racing 1m14.3327s +1.2491s 15
18 Chase Gardner Exclusive Autosport 1m14.3753s +1.2917s 9
19 Gordon Scully Velocity Racing Development 1m14.6691s +1.5855s 16
20 Elliot Cox Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 1m14.9023s +1.8187s 5
21 Avery Towns Exclusive Autosport 1m15.8445s +2.7609s 7