Exclusive Autosport’s Jack Jeffers won the 2024 YACademy Winter Series title in round two at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jeffers beat Velocity Racing Development’s Sebastian Wheldon to pole in qualifying by 0.148 seconds, with Wheldon’s team-mate Max Taylor 0.307s behind in third. Evan Cooley (Exclusive Autosport) and Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella Racing) completed the top five.
The rivalry between Jeffers and Andretti Global junior Wheldon continued into race one, where track position proved crucial as Wheldon was able to attack the poleman but could not find a way past him despite the race being neutralised several times.
Despite a couple of dramatic moments, only three of the 21 drivers failed to finish, with Diego Guiot (Zanella Racing) and Rodrigo Gonzalez (DEForce Racing Driver Development) going out on lap eight of 16 and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Jace Bacon retiring a lap later.
“It was definitely a hectic race,” said Jeffers after taking victory. “Sebastian gave me a run for my money and was on my gearbox the whole first half of the race. And we had a couple of safety cars but I was able to get good restarts and I just maintained a gap and kept building that gap towards the end.”
There was 1.554s between them at the finish, with a further four seconds back to Exclusive Autosport’s Joao Vergara in third place.
The top eight were reversed to form the grid for race two, and Jeffers managed to slice his way through for another win. He did not have it easy, and beat JHDD’s G3 Argyros to victory by just 0.251s. Leonardo Escorpioni managed to finish third, and Wheldon rose up to fourth place after holding off Patricio Gonzalez (DEForce DD).
The result moved Jeffers to the top of the standings by one point over Wheldon.
Jeffers made it a hat-trick of victories on Sunday, and this time built a comfortable gap over Taylor in second place before the race was neutralised. Cooley, Vergea and Patricio Gonzalez completed the top five, with Wheldon’s title hopes coming undone four laps from the end.
He had been running in fourth place an pressuring Vergara for third, and when he got past him on lap nine he was followed through by Cooley. Wheldon then gapped himself from the Exclusive Autosport driver, but an incident ended his race and meant the remaining laps ran under yellow flag conditions. It almost meant Jeffers was guaranteed the title even if he had not met the chequered flag in first place.
Also racing at the track was the Formula FARA series for first-generation Formula 4 cars. It attracted a 12-car field, and Gaston Irazu won the first race.
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 Jack Jeffers Exclusive Autosport 28m17.538s
2 Sebastian Wheldon VRD +1.554s
3 Joao Vergara Exclusive Autosport +5.622s
4 Max Taylor VRD +7.601s
5 Evan Cooley Exclusive Autosport +9.592s
6 Aiden Potter JHDD +10.187s
7 G3 Argyros JHDD +10.787s
8 Timmy Carel JHDD +12.350s
9 Leonardo Escorpioni Zanella Racing +13.584s
10 Jackson Tovo Team Tonis +14.780s
Pole: Jeffers, 1m28.428s
Fastest lap: Jeffers, 1m29.210s
Race 2 (16 laps)
1 Jeffers 25m38.695s
2 Argyros +0.251s
3 Escorpioni +3.717s
4 Wheldon +5.526s
5 Patricio Gonzalez DEForce DD +5.786s
6 Anthony Martella Exclusive Autosport +11.199s
7 Ava Dobson JHDD +12.874s
8 Carel +20.155s
9 Giovanni Cabrera Exclusive Autosport +22.057s
10 Enzo Tovo Team Tonis +23.227s
FL: Argyros, 1m29.516s
Race 3 (16 laps)
2 Taylor +2.011s
3 Cooley +2.398s
4 Vergara +3.099s
5 P Gonzalez +3.931s
6 Potter +4.638s
7 Rodrigo Gonzalez DEForce DD +5.329s
8 Argyros +5.864s
9 Diego Guiot Zanella Racing +6.422s
10 Dobson +6.975s
FL: Wheldon, 1m29.456s
1 Jeffers 42 2 Wheldon 33 3 Cooley 27 4 Escorpioni 16 5 Vergara 16 6 Argyros 13 7 P Gonzalez 12 8 Taylor 11 9 R Gonzalez 8 10 Dobson 5