Home News Nikita Johnson wins on his second USF Pro 2000 start aged 15

Nikita Johnson wins on his second USF Pro 2000 start aged 15

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Velocity Racing Development’s Nikita Johnson claimed an assertive USF Pro 2000 win on just his second series start, and at the age of 15.

Johnson qualified third behind DEForce Racing duo Kiko Porto and Mac Clark at Circuit of the Americas, and he moved into second place at the circuit’s famous first corner on lap one while Ricardo Escotto passed points leader Myles Rowe for fourth.

Clark reclaimed second place heading onto the long back straight, but Johnson then got back ahead in the braking zone at the end of the straight.

Next time around Clark stayed in the slipstream then made his move at the braking zone, but Johnson went deep at the corner after to move back into second.

Two laps later Johnson tried passing Porto for the lead around the outside of turn 12 at the end of the back straight, then again around the outwide of turn one on lap five. That also failed but he stayed glued to the rear of Porto up the esses and was in a position to line up a move on the back straight once again. This time he tried the outside at turn 13 but went too deep and had to quickly fend off Clark.

Johnson finally got into the lead on lap seven, forcing his way down the inside of Porto at turn one, then he made sure he could not come under attack in all the heavy braking zones through the second half of the race.

He finished 0.919 seconds clear of Porto, having been 1.637s ahead at one point, and Clark was a further half-second back in third on what was also only his second USFP2000 start. Impressively there was then a gap of 15.588s to TJ Speed’s Lirim Zendeli in fourth.

Escotto quickly lost ground to the top three early in the race, and on lap nine Salvador de Alba tried passing him down the back straight and almost got squeezed off. De Alba did get the move done, then Escotto tumbled down the order before retiring in the pits.

That promoted Zendeli to fifth, and despite a lock-up he passed de Alba into turn one on lap 10. Rowe tried passing him on the back straight, and instead Zendeli made a great late-braking move that secured his fourth place.

De Alba resisted Rowe’s attacks thereon, Michael d’Orlando finished seventh and Jace Denmark was eighth after briefly challenging d’Orlando and then spending half a lap going side-by-side with Francesco Pizzi.

Race result (15 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Nikita Johnosn Velocity Racing Development 31m02.243s
2 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing +0.919s
3 Mac Clark DEForce Racing +1.473s
4 Lirim Zendeli TJ Speed +17.061s
5 Salvador de Alba DEForce Racing +17.547s
6 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing +18.645s
7 Michael d’Orlando Turn 3 Motorsport +20.375s
8 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing +22.088s
9 Francesco Pizzi TJ Speed +22.831s
10 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports +24.532s
11 Frankie Mossman JHDD +25.105s
12 Jordan Missig Pabst Racing +25.755s
13 Jonathan Browne Turn 3 Motorsport +27.154s
14 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing +35.964s
15 Louka St.-Jean Turn 3 Motorsport +41.543s
16 Nicholas Monteiro NeoTech Motorsport +41.932s
17 Avery Towns Exclusive Autosport +1m01.242s
Ret Ricardo Escotto JHDD
Ret Lindsay Brewer Exclusive Autosport
Fastest lap: Clark, 2m03.128s

Championship standings
Rowe 333   2 Porto 275   3 de Alba 245   4 Zendeli 225   5 d’Orlando 224   6 Pizzi 218   7 Joel Granfors 208   8 Denmark 199   9 Browne 188   10 Miller 183