At a track where every driver would like to win, the Jay Howard Driver Development program did that in two different series with two different drivers this past weekend. Taking on the USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires with three drivers, an additional duo saw battle in the USF Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires as JHDD walked away with two wins, five podium results, and the USF2000 Championship point lead.
In a jam-packed three-day race weekend that kicked off Thursday afternoon with Promoters Test Sessions, Friday morning saw wet weather move into the area, just in time for qualifying. With USF2000 drivers forced to run the wet weather Cooper Tires, Evagoras Papasavvas led the way with an eighth-place effort while Lochie Hughes and Al Morey found themselves back in 11th and 18th respectively. On the USF Pro 2000 side of the program, it was Reece Ushijima who led the way with a top-ten effort in P8 while Ricardo Escotto scored an outside row six starting spot with the 12th fastest race lap.
With the weather clearing for the first wheel-to-wheel action of the weekend, it was Hughes who drove forward from his disappointing qualifying effort to earn JHDD’s first podium result of the weekend with a second place. Al Morey had his career-best USF2000 result in his home event being classified in the seventh position while Papasavvas was a victim of an engine failure that forced him to the sidelines and delivered a significant blow to his championship.
Returning to the track Saturday with a pair of wheel-to-wheel racing prior to the start of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event, it was Hughes who carried the team adding an additional two podium results including a win in race three. Courtesy of his second-place result Saturday morning and the victory on Saturday afternoon, Hughes has taken over the USF2000 point lead with seven of 18 races complete. Papasavvas recovered in race two scoring a top-ten result gaining 12 positions to finish ninth and bettered that result leading race three early and was battling for a podium result before finishing seventh. With Morey’s best finish of the season on Friday afternoon, contact due to no fault of his own in race two saw him classified in the 17th position before he finished 13th in race three.
With the USF2000 drivers having three races over the weekend, USF Pro 2000 competitors would have two wheel-to-wheel races. In a weird race one that saw competitors start on dry weather Cooper tires before a red flag and a switch to the grooved wet weather tires, it was the JHDD drivers who rose to the top when the checkered flag flew. With both Escotto and Ushijima scoring their best career USF Pro 2000 results, Escotto scored his first-career race win in a Jay Howard Driver Development one–two finish. While race two on Saturday did not provide the best results for Saturday’s podium winners, it was a good weekend for JHDD.
“Great team weekend,” expressed Jay Howard. “We won in both USF2000 and Pro in difficult conditions. We had five podium results and lead the championship standings in one of our two programs. We will now shift our focus to Lucas Oil Raceway and our one and only oval race of the season.”
While the next time the USF Pro Championship Presented by Cooper Tires drivers will be on track in the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway, JHDD will travel to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this coming weekend for the next event weekend of the F4 United States Championship Powered by Honda.
For more information on Jay Howard’s Driver Development program, follow them on social media by searching ‘Jay Howard Driver Development’ or contact Jay Howard via e-mail at Jay@JayHoward.com or visit him online at www.JayHoward.com.
Photo Credit: RTD Media