Jay Howard Driver Development’s Evagoras Papasavvas took a last-gasp pole in USF2000 qualifying at Mid-Ohio.
Pabst Racing’s Simon Sikes had been the driver to beat, having topped pre-event testing on Thursday by 0.4282 seconds over Velocity Racing Development’s Nikita Johnson and then led Papasavvas by 0.2084s in practice on Friday morning.
In qualifying he was also straight to the top, managing to get in a 1m22.0568s to put himself 0.4057s clear of Papasavvas before red flags waved five minutes into the session due to DEForce Racing’s Brady Golan crashing otu.
Once track action restarted, Golan’s team-mate Mac Clark split the top two by setting a 1m22.3635s.
Papasavvas was shuffled down to fourth approaching the halfway point of the session as Clark’s team-mate Jorge Garciarce went third fastest and Clark closed the gap to Sikes down to just 0.0425s, and when he finally improved his pace he was still knocked down to fifth as DC Autosport’s Ethan Ho set a 1m22.2733s to move into third place.
Having scrubbed set a tyres once qualifying restarted and then pitting, Sikes did not get up to speed again until late on and with eight minutes remaining he broke into the 1m21s while Papasavvas rose back up to third.
Sikes improved again on his next lap, as team-mate Max Garcia jumped up from 12th to second but 0.4164s off Sikes’ pace.
The pair then went even faster with five minutes to go, with nobody else lapping sub-1m22s until Clark returned to second place by getting within 0.1311s of Sikes with four minutes left of qualifying.
Papasavvas was knocked all the way back down to sixth following improvements from Lochie Hughes (JHDD) and Sam Corry (VRD), then with 93s left on the clock he was down to 12th and both Ho and Clark had got within a tenth of Sikes.
However Papasavvas saved his best till last, setting a 1m21.4024s moments after the chequered flag waved to take pole by a comfortable 0.2515s.
Johnson in sixth and his team-mate Zack Ping in 15th were the only other drivers able to improve at the end, while Sikes and Hughes were already in the pits.
It was an unfortunate debut qualifying session for Team USA scholar Thomas Schrage, whose fire extinguisher went off and was unable to take part. He had been fourth fastest in testing and eighth in practice.
|2||Simon Sikes||Pabst Racing||1m21.6539s||+0.2515s||12|
|3||Ethan Ho||DC Autosport||1m21.7472s||+0.3448s||12|
|4||Mac Clark||DEForce Racing||1m21.7523s||+0.3499s||12|
|6||Nikita Johnson||Velocity Racing Development||1m21.9733s||+0.5709s||12|
|7||Max Garcia||Pabst Racing||1m21.9923s||+0.5899s||13|
|9||Sam Corry||Velocity Racing Development||1m22.0337s||+0.6313s||12|
|10||Jacob Douglas||Pabst Racing||1m22.0445s||+0.6421s||13|
|11||Danny Dyszelski||Velocity Racing Development||1m22.0710s||+0.6686s||11|
|12||Jorge Garciarce||DEForce Racing||1m22.1320s||+0.7296s||12|
|13||Chase Gardner||Exclusive Autosport||1m22.1824s||+0.7800s||13|
|15||Zack Ping||Velocity Racing Development||1m22.3434s||+0.9410s||12|
|16||Max Taylor||Velocity Racing Development||1m22.5433s||+1.1409s||12|
|18||Maxwell Jamieson||DEForce Racing||1m22.5946s||+1.1922s||12|
|19||Gordon Scully||Velocity Racing Development||1m23.0111s||+1.6087s||12|
|20||Brady Golan||DEForce Racing||1m23.5879s||+2.1855s||11|
|21||Avery Towns||Exclusive Autosport||1m23.7815s||+2.3791s||12|
|22||Carson Etter||DC Autosport||1m24.1201s||+2.7177s||13|
|23||Thomas Schrage||Exclusive Autosport||no time||0|