Home News Johnson on pole for USF Pro 2000’s first two Indianapolis races

Johnson on pole for USF Pro 2000’s first two Indianapolis races

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Nikita Johnson topped USF Pro 2000 qualifying on Indianapolis Motor Spedway’s road course to claim pole for the first two of this weekend’s three race.

The fastest laps from the session set the grid for race one, with each driver’s second-best laptime being used to determine race two’s starting order.

Pabst Racing’s Jace Denmark laid down the first benchmarks in qualifying, and only two laps had been set my the majority of drivers when red flags waved almost a quarter of the way through the 20-minute session due to his team-mate Simon Sikes striking trouble and his car having to be towed away from the side of the track.

Action resumed five minutes later, and Denmark improved to 1m23.9132s on his third lap to lead Turn 3 Motorsport’s Adam Fitzgerald.

Velocity Racing Development driver Johnson came to the fore as the fourth laps were set, and he lowered the pace to 1m23.4663s. TJ Speed’s Liam Sceats and DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark also beat Denmark, who did not improve.

Johnson went quicker again next time by, setting a 1m22.7597s, and Sceats remained his closest rival while Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves jumped to third with a 1m23.41s.

Clark went second fastest with nine minutes to go, but was 0.3681 seconds slower than Johnson, with Eves a further 0.1114s behind.

BN Racing’s Nicolas Baptiste demoted Eves to fourth with six-and-a-half minutes remaining, and he was soon in fifth as DEForce’s Jorge Garciarce set a 1m23.0832s to climb up to second place.

While there were improvements, Pabst’s Christian Brooks going third fastest then Comet/NCMP Racing’s Logan Adams setting the second quickest lap of the session, nobody was able to get near Johnson’s pace.

BN’s Ricardo Escotto finally broke the 1m23s barrier in the last four minutes to get within 0.1813s of Johnson, but he immediately responded by lowering the pace to 1m22.6337s. Baptiste lapped 0.2384s off the new benchmark shortly after, then Sceats went 0.0038s faster than him to return to second place.

On his next lap Sceats did even better, knocking Johnson off top spot by 0.1986s with 81s left on the clock. Johnson had actually just improved himself, and found even more pace next time by as he reclaimed provisional pole by 0.2054s.

Almost everyone was setting personal bests on low fuel, with Clark and TJ Speed’s Hunter Yeany going third and fourth fastest and Turn 3’s Lochie Hughes improving in sixth. Eves then set a 1m22.4595s to jump from eighth to third just before red flags with 23s to go due to Turn 3’s Tyke Durst going off. That interrupted many drivers who were set to improve, and therefore secured Johnson race one pole.

On second-best laptimes he was fastest by 0.3607s over Sceats, with Hughes and Yeany set to fill row two of race two’s grid. Brooks ended up 11th fastest but will line up seventh in race two, while Denmark slumped down to 17th after initially setting the pace.

Qualifying round-up
Race 1 grid
1 Nikita Johnson VRD 1m22.1036s
2 Liam Sceats TJ Speed +0.2054s
3 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport +0.3559s
4 Mac Clark DEForce Racing +0.5089s
5 Lochie Hughes Turn 3 Motorsport +0.5735s
6 Hunter Yeany TJ Speed +0.7236s
7 Nicolas Baptiste BN Racing +0.7685s
8 Ricardo Escotto BN Racing +0.8374s
9 Logan Adams Comet/NCMP Racing +0.9362s
10 Frankie Mossman JHDD +0.9688s

Race 2 grid
1 Johnson 1m22.5076s
2 Sceats +0.3607s
3 Hughes +0.4085s
4 Yeany +0.4372s
5 Eves +0.4489s
6 Clark +0.5071s
7 Christian Brooks Pabst Racing +0.5852s
8 Mossman +0.6082s
9 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing +0.6176s
10 Baptiste +0.6590s