Jay Howard Driver Development’s Lochie Hughes converted pole position into victory in the first USF2000 race of 2023 in St. Petersburg.
The pace car was called out on the opening lap of the race after three cars picked up race-ending damage at Turn 4, with Avery Towns ripping off a wheel with his impact and Danny Dyszelski and Zack Ping also losing parts of their cars.
There was no change to the top seven positions before racing was neutralised, and Hughes continued to lead the way when green flags appeared again on lap five of 20.
The gap to second place grew and shrunk at times, but never went under a second and meant Hughes comfortably won. Evagoras Papasavvas took several attempts to pass Nikita Johnson for second, with the pair a long way ahead of fourth place.
Going on an amazing recovery drive from 15th on the grid to eventually finish in fourth was Simon Sikes, who also set the fastest lap of the race as he picked off car after car on his way up the order.
While he moved up, Future Star Racing duo Andre Castro and Trey Burke both lost places late on.
Race result (20 laps)
|3||Nikita Johnson||Velocity Racing Development||+3.6408s|
|4||Simon Sikes||Pabst Racing||+7.4802s|
|5||Sam Corry||Velocity Racing Development||+10.7616s|
|6||Nicholas d’Orlando||Exclusive Autosport||+11.8056s|
|7||Trey Burke||Future Star Racing||+12.3192s|
|8||Jacob Douglas||Exclusive Autosport||+12.7926s|
|9||Andre Castro||Future Star Racing||+13.7510s|
|10||Joey Brienza||Exclusive Autosport||+13.8853s|
|11||Mac Clark||DEForce Racing||+14.5706s|
|12||Chase Gardner||Exclusive Autosport||+15.7354s|
|13||Jorge Garciarce||DEForce Racing||+16.0988s|
|16||Maxwell Jamieon||DEForce Racing||+25.7118s|
|18||Gordon Scully||Velocity Racing Development||+28.7365s|
|Ret||Zack Ping||Velocity Racing Development|
|Ret||Danny Dyszelski||Velocity Racing Development|
|Ret||Avery Towns||Exclusive Autosport|
|Fastest lap: Sikes, 1m12.9259s|