Lochie Hughes beat Simon Sikes in a final corner fight for victory in a restarted USF2000 race at Sebring.
Jay Howard Driver Devlopment’s Hughes went from third to first at the start, passing Pabst Racing duo Sikes and Max Garcia. Elliott Cox also passed Garcia, having started fourth, and started pressuring Sikes before a collision between Velocity Racing Development team-mates Zack Ping and Nikita Johnson led to the pace car being called out and then the race being red flagged on lap two.
The race restarted on lap three behind the pace car with the order as it was when the race was stopped, and Hughes kept the lead ahead of Sikes while Evagoras Papasavvas passed Cox for third.
Sikes had an off at turn one on lap six but did not lose second place, and actually remained close to the leader. On lap nine he overtook Hughes on the inside of turn one, but Hughes got back past at the final corner.
The turn one error was repeated by Sikes next time around but the power of the slipstream meant he stuck with Hughes and on the final lap they went side-by-side down the back straight.
Sikes had the outside line going into the final corners and kept his car alongside Hughes until they came to the bumpiest part and it looked like they made contact as Sikes car then went wide. It was ultimately not costly as the positions remained the same, with Hughes winning by 1.177 seconds.
The battle for third was settled in Papasavvas’s favour by the end of the race, but earlier on he was bumpdrafted by Garcia and there was contact involving Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Elliot Cox.
That enabled DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark to get past the latter two into fourth, with Cox finishing fifth. With two laps to go, Chase Gardner demoted single-seater debutant Garcia to seventh. Garcia was one of the top junior karters in the USA last year.
Absent from the field was Future Star Racing and its drivers Andre Castro and Trey Burke, while Joey Brienza was not part of Exclusive Autorport’s line-up as he had been in round one due to stepping down to its USF Juniors squad.
Alongside Garcia, the second addition to the grid was DC Autosport’s Ethan Ho, who the previous day had been racing his car in a different specification in USF Juniors.
Race result (12 laps)
|2||Simon Sikes||Pabst Racing||+1.177s|
|4||Mac Clark||DEForce Racing||+7.993s|
|6||Chase Gardner||Exclusive Autosport||+9.482s|
|7||Max Garcia||Pabst Racing||+10.318s|
|8||Sam Corry||Velocity Racing Development||+11.590s|
|9||Jorge Garciarce||DEForce Racing||+12.601s|
|10||Danny Dyszelski||Velocity Tacing Development||+17.438s|
|12||Gordon Scully||Velocity Racing Development||+33.733s|
|13||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||+33.927s|
|14||Avery Towns||Exclusive Autosport||+36.296s|
|16||Nikita Johnson||Velocity Racing Development||+1 lap|
|Ret||Maxwell Jamieson||DEForce Racing|
|Ret||Ethan Ho||DC Autosport|
|Ret||Zack Ping||Velocity Racing Development|
|Fastest lap: Sikes, 2m06.294s