2023 PREVIEW - USF 2000

This weekend, the USF 2000 Championship starts its new season. The season opener will take place together with the Indycar Series on the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida. In this preview you will get an overview of all the teams and their drivers, the season calendar, pre-season testing and more. At the end, you'll find my previews for the driver and team championships.


A total of 22 drivers from eight different teams will compete this season. Last year's driver champions from Cape Motorsports have withdrawn from the championship due to their new Indy NXT commitment. The Turn 3 Motorsports team is also no longer competing this season. In addition, both the reigning USF Juniors and the reigning F4 US champions will tackle the championship this season.


DEForce Racing

Mac Clark,  Jorge Garciarce, Maxwell Jamieson


DEForce Racing is sending three cars to the starting grid this year. Mac Clark already attracted attention in his debut last year. The reigning USF Juniors champion contested only last year's season finale at Portland International Raceway and immediately won his second of the three races he did so far in USF 2000. In the USF Juniors championship, he won five races and stood on the podium twelve times. The Canadian also finished runner-up in the 2021 F4 US Championship and won the 2020 Canadian F1600 Championship Series. Jorge Garciarce is contesting his second year on the Road To Indy. Last year he finished thirteenth in the championship with JHDD. In 2021, the Mexican raced with Jenzer Motorsport in Italian Formula 4. The team is completed this year by Maxwell Jamieson. The 18-year-old from Houston, Texas competed with the team in the USF Juniors last season. His best result was an eighth place on the final weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.


Exclusive Autosport

Jacob Douglas, Avery Towns, Joey Brienza, Nicholas d'Orlando, Chase Gardner


Exclusive Autosport has four drivers competing in the championship this year. Jacob Douglas made his Road To Indy debut with the team last year. He finished the season in twelfth place and finished in the top five in three races. To prepare for the new year, the New Zealander competed in the Yacademy Winter Series, where he went on to win the USF Juniors class with three race victories. His teammate is Avery Towns. The TCU College student from Allen, Texas will be making his Road To Indy debut this year. The American doesn't have too much experience in motorsports yet compared to other drivers. But during the first two years of his open-wheel career, Towns was successful in the SCCA Formula X category, taking numerous race wins and winning the U.S. Majors points championship in both years. Joey Brienza, will participate in selected race weekends. The 18-year-old from Denver, Colorado will compete full-time with the team in USF Juniors this year. He has already celebrated race wins and podiums with Exclusive in the F1600 Championship Series in recent years. The team is completed by Nicholas d'Orlando. The brother of reigning champion Michael d'Orlando competed in his first races in the series last year. His best USF 2000 result to date was an eighth-place finish at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In 2021, the American won the F1600 Championship Series. Chase Gardner will also be racing for the team this year. In 2021, he competed in a few races in the F4 US Championship. His best result was a fifth place at Mid-Ohio.


Jay Howard Driver Development

Evagoras Papasavvas, Albert Morey, Lochie Hughes, Louka St-Jean


Jay Howard's team will compete with four drivers this year. Evagoras Papasavvas has rejoined the Jay Howard Driver Development Program for the 2023 season after being unable to compete in all races in his USF 2000 debut season due to a karting accident at the start of 2022. His twelfth place finish at the last race in Portland is his best result to date. One of his teammates is Albert "Al" Morey. For him it will be the first year on the Road To Indy after he competed in some F4 US races with JHDD last year. His best result was a ninth place finish in the third race at Virgina International Raceway. With Lochie Hughes, the reigning champion from Formula 4 US will also be competing with the team again. The Australian only came to America last season and has already won six races in the States and has been on the podium ten times out of 18 F4 US races. Hughes made his USF 2000 debut last year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he finished a strong fourth in race three. Rounding out the team is Louka St. Jean. The Canadian has also competed in the F4 US Championship in recent years and joined the JHDD team in 2022. He finished eleventh in the championship last year and made the podium in third place in race one at New Jersey Motorsports Park.


Velocity Racing Development

Sam Corry, Danny Dyszelski, Nikita Johnson, Zack Ping, Gordon Scully


Velocity Racing Development has the largest lineup of any team alongside Exclusive in USF 2000 with a total of five drivers. Sam Corry competed for the team in USF Juniors last year and finished runner-up in the championship. The 15-year-old from Chicago, Illinois won three races in his first single-seater racing series and finished on the podium 11 times. Danny Dyszelski is still competing with JHDD in his first races on the Road To Indy last year. The 14-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina had his strongest weekend at the season finale in Portland when he recorded his two best results of sixth and eighth. Nikita Johnson competed in last year's USF Juniors championship with Velocity and competed in individual USF 2000 races. He won three races in USF Juniors and finished on the podium a total of ten times. The 14-year-old from Saint Petersburg, Florida has also been on the podium in the USF 2000 Championship, finishing second in Portland. Zack Ping was supposed to compete in the USF Juniors Championship with the team this year. However, after his brother Noah moved to the British GB3 Championship, a seat became available. Zack will now compete in the full USF 2000 Championship and in selected USF Juniors races. Last year he competed primarily in the World Racing League sports car series, where he won the GP1 national class. The fifth driver at Velocity RD is Gordon Scully. The American is contesting his first season on the Road To Indy. Last year he competed in the F1600 Championship Series and finished seventh in the championship.


Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development

Elliot Cox


Elliot Cox enters his first season on the Road To Indy. The 15-year-old from Indianapolis has been a Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development driver since 2020. He is a SKUSA Pro Tour National Champion and has won two races in the Lucas Oil School of Racing. In addition, he is a race-winner in the Yacademy F4 Winter Series. The American finished eleventh in USF Juniors after competing only a partial season last year.


Future Star Racing

Andre Castro, Trey Burke


Future Star Racing has confirmed only one driver, Andre Castro, for the full season. The American-Colombian racer competed in the USF Juniors series last year. He finished fifth in the championship and was on the podium once. In 2021, he previously competed in the USF 2000 Championship and contested six races with Legacy Autosport. That same year, he finished third at the Formula Ford Festival overseas in the UK. Joining him as a teammate for at least the first weekend is Trey Burke. The 18-year-old from Park Ridge in Cook County, Illinois already competed in USF 2000 for the last two seasons. His best result was a seventh-place finish in the season opener at Saint Petersburg last year.


DC Autosport

Ethan Ho


Ethan Ho is entering his first full season in the USF 2000 Championship. The American with Taiwanese roots competed mainly in USF Juniors races with DC last season. He finished seventh in the championship after making the top five twice in the races. His best result came in fourth place at the final race of the season in Austin, Texas.


Pabst Racing

Simon Sikes


For the reigning team champions from Pabst Racing, only one car will be competing in the USF 2000 this season. Simon Sikes has contested occasional races with Legacy Autosport in the racing series over the past two years. In 2021, he finished on the podium four times. In 2020, he won the F1600 Championship Series with eight wins and 11 podiums from 14 races.


This year, 18 races will again be held, spread over eight tracks. The only oval race of the season will take place on May 27 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The other 17 races are again road races. The only change to the race schedule is the second race weekend taking place at Sebring International Raceway instead of Barber Motorsports Park. 


Round 1/2: Streets of St. Petersburg (4-5 March)


Round 3/4: Sebring International Raceway (25-26 March)


Round 5/6/7: Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Road Course (12-13 May)


Round 8: Lucas Oil Raceway (27 May)


Round 9/10: Road America (17-18 June)


Round 11/12/13: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (1-2 July)


Round 14/15: Exhibition Place - Toronto (15-16 July)


Round 16/17/18: Portland International Raceway (2-3 September)


Each race weekend includes a different number of races. Only one race will be held at Lucas Oil Raceway. In most cases, however, two races will be held each weekend, with the exception of the events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the season finale at Portland International Raceway, where three races will be held.


There are also more points to be won for the only oval race than for the road races. The following points are awarded in the oval: P1 = 45, P2 = 38, P3 = 33, P4 = 29, P5 = 26, P6 = 23, P7 = 21, P8 = 20, P9 = 18, P10 = 17, P11 = 15, P12 = 14, P13 = 12, P14 = 11, P15 = 9, P16 = 8, P17 = 6, P18 = 5, P19 = 3, P20 = 2.


For a road race, the following points are awarded:

P1 = 30, P2 = 25, P3 = 22, P4 = 19, P5 = 17, P6 = 15, P7 = 14, P8 = 13, P9 = 12, P10 = 11, P11 = 10, P12 = 9, P13 = 8, P14 = 7, P15 = 6, P16 = 5, P17 = 4, P18 = 3, P19 = 2, P20 = 1.


In addition, there are extra points to be won in each race. One point is awarded to the driver who lead the most laps, one point is awarded to the driver with the fastest race lap and one point is also awarded for pole position.


This years USF 2000 Spring Training took place earlier this week at Sebring International Raceway. In contrast to the USF Pro, the USF 2000 only took to the track on Tuesday. The fastest man of the day was Pabst driver Simon Sikes. He won the first session by 0.654 seconds and the second session by 0.160 seconds. He then skipped the third and final session of the day as DC Autorsport's Ethan Ho set the pace. All three sessions lasted an hour each. The busiest driver of the day was Maxwell Jamieson with 52 laps completed. Gardner (51), Brienza (51) and Ho (50) also took full advantage of the only Spring practice day.


Test Results

P1: Simon Sikes - Pabst Racing / 2m05.431s

P2: Ethan Ho - DC Autosport / +0.233s

P3: Mac Clark - DEForce / +0.576s

P4: Lochie Hughes - JHDD / +0.654s

P5: Evagoras Papasavvas - JHDD /+0.788s

P6: Elliot Cox - SFH RD / +0.897s

P7: Al Morey - JHDD / +0.957s

P8: Louka St. Jean - JHDD / +1.136s

P9: Nikita Johnson - Velocity RD / +1.140s

P10: Jorge Garciarce - DEForce / +1.223s


As I already did last year, I dare to make a prediction for this year's USF 2000 driver and team championships.


Drivers Championship Prediction


P1: Mac Clark

P2: Lochie Hughes

P3: Simon Sikes

P4: Nikita Johnson

P5: Jacob Douglas


In my opinion, we can expect a three-way battle for this year's championship title, provided Sikes can compete in all races. Together with the reigning F4 champion Hughes and the reigning USF Juniors champion Clark, I think he is one of the best drivers on the grid. Behind them it will be very exciting for the other places. I think Castro, Douglas, Johnson, Corry, Ho and others will be able to compete for a race win and the podium here and there.


Teams Championship Prediction


P1: DEForce Racing

P2: Jay Howard Driver Development

P3: Velocity RD


The team championship is extremely exciting this year. With DEForce, JHDD and Velocity RD, I think three teams could be able to win the title. I think that in the end Mac Clark will be the decisive factor and DEForce will also win the team championship. Behind them there is mainly Exclusive Autosport and two strong teams with only one driver. Pabst Racing with Simon Sikes and DC Autosport with Ethan Ho will also be competing for wins and podiums. I also count Future Star Racing among them.


The first two races of the year will be held over the next three days on the streets of Saint Petersburg, Florida at the Firestone GP.

written by Claudio Graf  / 2nd March, 2023