Home News Hughes tops first USF Pro 2000 practice session of season in St. Pete

Hughes tops first USF Pro 2000 practice session of season in St. Pete

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Lochie Hughes topped the first USF Pro 2000 practice session of the season in St. Peterburg, going fastest by 0.376 seconds.

Pabst Racing’s Jace Denmark set the pace at the start of the 35-minute session, with a 1m15.5643s lap putting him 0.4593s clear of team-mate Christian Brooks.

He improved to 1m13.4266s on his next lap, with Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves becoming his closest rival but a hug 1.6805s off his pace.

Denmark found even more pace in his next two laps, posting a 1m12.3862s and keeping a gap of more than a second between himself and second place as Turn 3 Motorsport’s Hughes became best of the rest with a 1m13.5131s lap.

DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark slashed Denmark’s advantage by setting a 1m12.9882s, but then Denmark immediately reponded by improving to 1m12.3137s. Jay Howard Driver Development’s Frankie Mossman, Brooks and Turn 3’s Danny Dyszelski also got within a second of him as the session reached the 10-minute mark.

Brooks broke into the 1m12s shortly after but stayed in fourth as Velocity Racing Development’s Nikita Johnson went third fastest. Turn 3’s Ethan Ho then made it six drivers to lap sub-1m13s.

Live timing froze for 13 minutes, leaving it unclear who was at the top of the order until just 11 minutes remained of practice. Now Johnson topped the times, having posted a 1m11.168s to usurp Denmark by 0.049s, and the top 14 had all set 1m11s laps.

Johnson improved to 1m11.079s gong into the final 10 minutes, with Brooks returning to the top three by setting a 1m11.249s.

Mossman then jumped from fifth to first by becoming the first driver to lap in the 1m10s, and Eves got within 0.01s of Johnson to shuffle an improving Brooks down to fourth and Denmark to fifth.

There was another new name at the top with seven minutes to go, as Hughes set a 1m10.812s. Mossman improved by 0.027s in the final three minutes but that was not enough to get back into first place, and then Hughes set a new 1m10.577s benchmark.

Denmark made his way back up to third place, and Brooks ended up in fourth ahead of Johnson and Eves.

There were some changes to the remaining positions in the top 10 through the last few minutes, with Pabst’s Simon Sikes going seventh fastest. Two tenths of a second covered fifth to 12th place.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lochie Hughes Turn 3 Motorsport 1m10.577s 23
2 Frankie Mossman JHDD 1m10.953s +0.376s 27
3 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1m11.014s +0.437s 26
4 Christian Brooks Pabst Racing 1m11.025s +0.448s 28
5 Nikita Johnson VRD 1m11.079s +0.502s 25
6 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1m11.089s +0.512s 19
7 Simon Sikes Pabst Racing 1m11.123s +0.546s 28
8 Danny Dyszelski Turn 3 Motorsport 1m11.142s +0.565s 25
9 Hunter Yeany TJ Speed 1m11.143s +0.566s 26
10 Ricardo Escotto BN Racing 1m11.222s +0.645s 27
11 Liam Sceats TJ Speed 1m11.274s +0.697s 25
12 David Morales TJ Speed 1m11.283s +0.706s 28
13 Ethan Ho Turn 3 Motorsport 1m11.605s +1.028s 23
14 Tyke Durst Turn 3 Motorsport 1m11.612s +1.035s 24
15 Mac Clark DEForce Racing 1m11.633s +1.056s 19
16 Nicholas Monteiro DEForce Racing 1m11.667s +1.090s 25
17 Adam Fitzgerald Turn 3 Motorsport 1m11.751s +1.174s 23
18 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing 1m11.804s +1.227s 25
19 Logan Adams Comet/NCMP Racing 1m11.885s +1.308s 23
20 Nicolas Baptiste BN Racing 1m11.921s +1.344s 14
21 Avery Towns Exclusive Autosport 1m11.958s +1.381s 26
22 Shawn Rashid VRD 1m12.297s +1.720s 24