Home News Wheldon wins in YACademy Winter Series as he warms up for USF Juniors

Wheldon wins in YACademy Winter Series as he warms up for USF Juniors

by Ida Wood

Photo: YACademy WS

Drivers who will be racing in USF Juniors later this year are spending this week warming up in their cars in the YACademy Winter Series.

Sebring hosted competitive action on Wednesday and Thursday, while Homestead-Miami Speedway will be raced on this weekend.

Revealing their USF Juniors plans beforehand were several teams. Velocity Racing Development announced the signing of Michael Suco and Andretti Global junior Sebastian Wheldon.

The latter, who is the son of the late IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon, was champion in the Formula 4-spec Skip Barber Formula Race Series last year and that success earned him a $100,000 scholarship to spend on a USF Juniors seat.

DEForce Racing’s USF Juniors squad will be branded as DEForce Racing Driver Development (DEForce DD) this year, and it has signed Mexican duo Patricio and Rodrigo Gonzalez as its first two drivers.

New Fernando Alonso protege and karting graduate Ayden Ingratta has joined Jay Howard Driver Development, while Exclusive Autosport has signed Canadian youngster Anthony Martella who already has experience in single-seaters and touring cars.

At Sebring, Wheldon set a 1m06.277s in qualifying to take pole by 0.263 seconds over Exclusive Autosport’s Jack Jeffers. There was a smaller gap covering second to sixth place. Only the bottom two in the 16-car field were more than a second off pole.

Wheldon successfully converted his first place starting spot into victory in race one, but Jeffers pushed him hard – setting the fastest lap with two laps to go – and they were split by just 0.439s at the end of the 20-lap encounter.

Evan Cooley finished 3.1s behind in third, but 3.6s clear of the fight for fourth between JHDD team-mates G3 Argyros and Ava Dobson. Argyros came out on top by a tiny 0.083s in a photo finish. Suco was the only non-finisher.

Zanella Racing’s Leonardo Escorpioni finished eighth, and he reaped the benefit of the reversed-grid format in race two as he took victory by a huge 5.627s over Cooley. Wheldon made his way onto the podium and set the fastest lap along the way, while there was a three-way photo finish to decide fourth place.

Rodrigo Gonzalez edged Patricio Gonzalez by 0.001s, with Timmy Carel a further 0.173s behind.

Jeffers’ title ambitions were hit as he retired from the race on lap nine of 20, but he bounced back in race three by beating Wheldon in a straight fight for victory. He was triumphant by 0.243s, with Cooley making it three podiums out of three in third place.

Joao Vergara finished fourth, and Rodrigo Gonzalez led home Escorpioni for fifth.

Results round-up
Race 1 (20 laps)
1 Sebastian Wheldon VRD 25m52.654s
2 Jack Jeffers Exclusive Autosport +0.439s
3 Evan Cooley Exclusive Autosport +3.100s
4 G3 Argyros JHDD +6.737s
5 Ava Dobson JHDD +6.820s
6 Patricio Gonzalez DEForce DD +8.312s
7 Diego Guiot Zanella Racing +9.130s
8 Leonardo Escorpioni Zanella Racing +11.411s
9 Timmy Carel JHDD +13.328s
10 Rodrigo Gonzalez DEForce DD +14.948s
Pole: Wheldon, 1m06.277s
Fastest lap: Jeffers, 1m06.358s

Race 2 (20 laps)
1 Escorpioni 22m31.023s
2 Cooley +5.627s
3 Wheldon +6.223s
4 R Gonzalez +12.355s
5 P Gonzalez +12.356s
6 Carel +12.529s
7 Joao Vergara Exclusive Autosport +15.596s
8 Jackson Tovo Tram Tonis +18.551s
9 Anthony Martella Exclusive Autosport +19.460s
10 Guiot +22.192s
FL: Wheldon, 1m06.360s

Race 3 (20 laps)
1 Jeffers 27m04.691s
2 Wheldon +0.243s
3 Cooley +2.877s
4 Vergara +4.135s
5 R Gonzalez +5.337s
6 Escorpioni +5.646s
7 Tovo +6.092s
8 Carel +11.477s
9 Martella +12.330s
10 Enzo Tovo Team Tonis +12.492s
FL: Wheldon, 1m06.633s

Championship standings
1 Wheldon 21   2 Cooley 18   3 Jeffers 16   4 Escorpioni 11   5 R Gonzalez 7   6 P Gonzalez 6   7 Argyros 5   8 Vergara 5   9 Dobson 4   10 Guiot 2