Home News USFP2000 leader Johnson comfortably quickest in Indianapolis practice

USFP2000 leader Johnson comfortably quickest in Indianapolis practice

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Points leader Nikita Johnson topped practice for USF Pro 2000’s triple-header event on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

TJ Speed’s David Morales and Velocity Racing Development’s Shawn Rashid were absent after contesting the season’s first two rounds, but joining the field was BN Racing’s Arturo Flores. He won the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix’s Formula 4 support race, then across the next two years took a victory and six other podiums in NACAM F4. He also came ninth in the 2021 YACademy Winter Series and 10th in United States F4 in 2022.

Thursday’s track action began with two test sessions which were scheduled to be an hour long but were 45 minutes instead, and Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves was fastest in the first with a 1m23.3021s. That put him just 0.0032 seconds ahead of Turn 3 Motorsport’s Lochie Hughes, with Pabst Racing’s Simon Sikes 0.1768s behind in third. The top 13 were covered by less than half a second, with 0.8727s between first and 18th place. However three drivers, including Flores, were more than 3.3s off the pace.

Hughes had been on top when red flags waved 26 minutes in, and Comet/NCMP Racing’s Logan Adams did not return to track after. Driving the car previously campaign by Rashid was Euroformula race-winner Bryce Aron, who is racing in the next rung up the Road to Indy in Indy Nxt this year. He went sixth fastest.

Red flags also disrupted session two, and led to the final 14 minutes not being run and therefore six drivers setting no laps. Pabst’s Christian Brooks set a 1m25.7708s to go fastest by 0.3371s over TJ Speed’s Liam Sceats, with Pabst’s Jace Denmark and Sikes 0.4674s and 0.9779s behind respectively. Turn 3’s Ethan Ho was the only other driver to set a representative laptime.

VRD’s Johnson was fastest at first in practice, then Denmark went top by 0.7499s after 10 minutes. Red flags waved halfway through the 30-minute session, at which point Sikes was on top by 0.3629s over Brooks with a 1m24.2666s.

Once green flags waved again with just under eight-an-a-half minutes remaining, most left the pits straight away. Sikes lowered the pace to 1m24.1331s in the final six minutes, with Denmark only 0.0238s slower, then with four-and-a-half minutes to go Johnson set a 1m24.0673s. He was followed across the line by Sikes, who utilised the slipstream to go 0.5734s faster than him, then 10s later Yeany got within 0.0626s of Sikes’ pace as Turn 3’s Danny Dyszelski and Sceats also beat Johnson.

Although Johnson did improve to 1m23.3632s with three minutes left, that put him second as Yeany went 0.2848s faster. But Johnson had more in hand, lowering the pace to 1m22.9018s with 12s to go then improving to 1m22.5188s after the chequered flag. Hughes went third fastest, and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Frankie Mossman left it super late to set a 1m23.3164s to slot into fourth ahead of Sceats and the improving Dyszelski. That meant Sikes ended up seventh, 0.9108s off the pace.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nikita Johnson VRD 1m22.5188s 10
2 Hunter Yeany TJ Speed 1m23.0784s +0.5596s 16
3 Lochie Hughes Turn 3 Motorsport 1m23.1288s +0.6100s 12
4 Frankie Mossman JHDD 1m23.3164s +0.7976s 13
5 Liam Sceats TJ Speed 1m23.3936s +0.8748s 16
6 Danny Dyszelski Turn 3 Motorsport 1m23.4279s +0.9091s 15
7 Simon Sikes Pabst Racing 1m23.4296s +0.9108s 16
8 Mac Clark DEForce Raxing 1m23.4455s +0.9267s 9
9 Christian Brooks Pabst Racing 1m23.4843s +0.9655s 16
10 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport 1m23.5776s +1.0588s 6
11 Ricardo Escotto BN Racing 1m23.5801s +1.0613s 11
12 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing 1m23.6754s +1.1566s 16
13 Tyke Durst Turn 3 Motorsport 1m23.6860s +1.1672s 11
14 Nicolas Baptiste BN Racing 1m23.7227s +1.2039s 11
15 Logan Adams Comet/NCMP Racing 1m24.1785s +1.6597s 15
16 Nicholas Monteiro DEForce Racing 1m24.2186s +1.6998s 7
17 Ethan Ho Turn 3 Motorsport 1m24.3114s +1.7926s 14
18 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing 1m25.5755s +3.0567s 7
19 Adam Fitzgerald Turn 3 Motorsport 1m26.3702s +3.8514s 7
20 Charles Finelli FatBoy Racing! no time 0