Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe extended his USF Pro 2000 points lead with victory in the opening race at Sebring.
There were two drivers removed fom contention before racing actually began, as DEForce Racing’s Kiko Porto – who came into the weekend second in the points – missed the start entirely and Michael d’Orlando was pit-bound at the end of lap one which took place behind the pace car after the rolling start failed to take place as planned.
Once the field were released to race at the start of lap two, poleman Jace Denmark immediately came under attack from team-mate Rowe.
At turn one Rowe went for the inside, and got the move done at turn two. By the end of the lap they were already running behind the pace car again as an incident involving Nicholas Monteiro and Ricardo Escotto at turn seven led to a caution period that ran until the end of lap five (by which point d’Orlando had rejoined the action several laps down).
Behind the top two at the restart were Joel Granfors and Francesco Pizzi, with the former going from sixth to third in the brief period of green flag action prior to the caution period.
Rowe managed to escape pressure when the track returned to green, while Granfors was one of several drivers to fill Denmark’s mirrors. The order at the front did not change though, and Rowe built a 0.9-second gap up front.
He grew that over several laps to 1.4s before Denmark brought the gap down to a second by setting fastest lap. Rowe responded by growing his lead back to 1.4s the next lap, as Granfors and Pizzi remained on Denmark’s tail.
Granfors went for a move on Denmark on the penultimate lap, diving down the inside of turn one and successfully claiming second place. Pizzi tried to follow through but there was not enough room until turn seven, where he demoted Denmark to fourth.
That battling helped Rowe pull 2.5s clear going into the final lap, with a further 1.6s back to Pizzi in third, and the Force Indy-backed claimed his second win in a row.
It was not just Porto who missed the race, as Chistian Brooks was absent entirely. He entered the weekend third in the standings, having won the opening race of the season in St. Petersburg. However he did that event on a one-weekend deal and it is unclear if he will return to the series, meaning Rowe already has a big points lead just three races into the season.
Race result (15 laps)
|1||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing|
|2||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||+3.265s|
|3||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed||+4.287s|
|4||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||+4.701s|
|5||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||+5.825s|
|6||Lirim Zendeli||TJ Speed||+8.344s|
|7||Salvador de Alba||Exclusive Autosport||+9.648s|
|9||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||+11.407s|
|10||Christian Weir||TJ Speed||+14.566s|
|11||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsport||+15.620s|
|12||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||+19.528s|
|13||Jackson Lee||Turn 3 Motorsport||+21.747s|
|14||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||+22.919s|
|15||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport||+28.141s|
|16||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||+2 laps|
|Ret||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport|
|Fastest lap: Denmark, 1m59.703s