Home Road to IndyIndy Nxt Johnson and Towns become latest additions to USFP2000’s COTA round

Johnson and Towns become latest additions to USFP2000’s COTA round

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

USF Pro 2000’s round at Circuit of the Americas this weekend continues to attract new drivers, with two new additions to the grid but one loss.

The absentee is Christian Weir, who has vacated his seat at TJ Speed due to budget issues. He has taken a pole this year, but is down in 15th in the standings with a best finish of sixth.

“Due to budget hits out of my control, my 2023 race season has come to an end. We worked hard but could not make ends meet for the final few events,” said Weir. “I am down, but not out, and will be working hard to return to the track and focus on a race-winning 2024 campaign.

“A huge thank you to everyone around me who has helped me get this far. Thank you to my parents, my team-mates, Richard Lyons, and [team boss] Tim Neff. Without these people, I would be nowhere. Tim went above and beyond to try and keep me in his car, and for that I am thankful.”

Returning to the USFP2000 grid is Velocity Racing Development, a team which last raced in the series in 2021 when it ran Hunter Yeany part-time. For this weekend it will be fielding Nikita Johnson, who usually races for them in USF2000.

Johnson is currently third in the USF2000 standings, and has an outside chance of becoming champion in next month’s Portland season finale. He has won one race, taken two poles and finished on the podium seven times this year.

“I’m super happy to be stepping up for this one-off weekend,” said Johnson. “I love COTA and can’t wait to get back out to Austin. I won there twice last season in USF Juniors and it is certainly one of my favorite tracks on the calendar.”

VRD team owner Dan Mitchell added: “Making the step up to USFP2000 is something we have carefully considered and it had to be at the right time and with the right driver. This will be a big step for both VRD and Nikita. We go into the COTA weekend confident we can do well but understand we need to control our expectations.”

Joining the USFP2000 grid for COTA but also for Portland is Avery Towns, who will race for Exclusive Autosport.

Like Johnson, Towns steps up from USF2000 and does so with the team he has already been competing for in 2023. He is 17th in the USF2000 standings with a best finish of eighth, and will miss the final round due to being in USFP2000 instead.

“I can’t wait to make my debut in the series at my home race of the Circuit of the Americas and to launch the 2024 season early,” said Towns.

Already announced as debuting at COTA were Mac Clark, Jorge Garciarce and Frankie Mossman.

On the rung above USFP2000, there is also a grid change as Kyffin Simpson will miss this weekend’s Indy Nxt race at the Gateway oval due to racing in the European Le Mans Series.