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Yeany ends lengthy winless spell in incident-packed USFP2000 race

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Hunter Yeany took his first single-seater victory since September 2020 in an incident-packed USF Pro 2000 race at NOLA Motorsports Park.

The 18-year-old had only stood on a podium once since his title-winning United States Formula 4 campaign over three-and-a-half years ago, and has been racing in single-seaters’ third tier since 2021. His best finish prior to this weekend had been a seventh place.

Two yellow flag periods and a red flag stoppage disrupted running in the third USFP2000 race of the season, resulting in a two-lap dash to the flag at the end.

Yeany started on the front row alongside Jace Denmark, and wasted no time getting to the front of the field. Simon Sikes initially stayed with the top two, but had begun to fall backwards when the first caution period occurred due to Ethan Ho spinning across the track, damaging the left-hand side of his car and retiring on the spot.

Nikita Johnson had climbed from seventh to fifth before that, and Ho’s retirement meant he rose to fourth and moved onto the tail of the lead cars.

Sikes was unable to challenge Denmark on the restart and came under attack from Johnson. The two swapped places several times before Johnson and also Nicolas Baptiste were able to find a way past.

Yeany and Denmark pulled away, although Johnson was beginning to catch them again when yellow flags waved again. This time, pre-race points leader Lochie Hughes had come to a stop with an apparent mechanical problem.

Racing resumed in the final third of the race. Johnson was again on the attack and passed Denmark for second, but another incident would stop running before the Velocity Racing Development driver could put the pressure on Yeany for the victory.

Nicholas Monteiro, Adam Fitzgerald and David Morales were caught in a three-car incident that took them all out of the race. The pace car was initially brought out before the race was red flagged so the clean-up could take place. That left a two-lap dash to the chequered flag once action restarted.

Johnson kept the pressure on Yeany in those two laps, but the leader did not put a wheel wrong and came through to take victory by 0.2832 seconds.

Denmark took third ahead of Danny Dyszelski, who passed Mac Clark in the final stage of the race to take top rookie honours. Baptiste finished sixth, ahead of Ricardo Escotto, Christian Brooks and Frankie Mossman.

After a strong first part of the race, Sikes continued to fall backwards, eventually ending his day in 10th.

Race result (18 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Hunter Yeany TJ Speed 42m10.7480s
2 Nikita Johnson VRD +0.2832s
3 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing +0.9589s
4 Danny Dyszelski Turn 3 Motorsport +1.9929s
5 Mac Clark DEForce Racing +2.6015s
6 Nicolas Baptiste BN Racing +2.9561s
7 Ricardo Escotto BN Racing +3.5489s
8 Christian Brooks Pabst Racing +4.6165s
9 Frankie Mossman JHDD +5.3618s
10 Simon Sikes Pabst Racing +5.5601s
11 Tyke Durst Turn 3 Motorsport +6.1265s
12 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport +6.5330s
13 Jorge Garciarce DEForce Racing +6.7590s
14 Logan Adams Comet/NCMP Racing +8.2026s
Ret David Morales TJ Speed
Ret Nicholas Monteiro DEForce Racing
Ret Adam Fitzgerald Turn 3 Motorsport
Ret Liam Sceats TJ Speed
Ret Lochie Hughes Turn 3 Motorsport
Ret Ethan Ho Turn 3 Motorsport
Fastest lap: Johnson, 1m31.9438s

Championship standings
1 Johnson 77   2 Hughes 61   Brooks 55   4 Yeany 53   5 Mossman 44   6 Clark 44   7 Dyszelski 43   8 Sceats 40   9 Eves 39   10 Denmark 38