In less than two weeks it's that time again and the USF Juniors Championship starts into its new season. In this season preview you will get an overview of all teams and their drivers, the race calendar, the points system and the Spring Training tests. At the end you will find as usual my short prediction for this year's driver and team championship.


This year, instead of the Formula 4 cars that were used last year, new cars with halo and more horsepower are used in USF Juniors. Therefore, only four teams are participating in the championship this season. A total of 14 drivers are spread among these teams. Due to the lower costs, between six and nine teams with a total of 27 drivers competed last year.


DC Autosport

Carson Etter, Ethan Ho


DC Autosport is fielding two drivers this year. Carson Etter is contesting his debut season in the championship. Last year he competed in the F4 Formula Pro USA Western Championship. The 19-year-old from Villa Park, California won five races, finished on the podium twelve times and ended the championship as runner-up. His teammate for this season is Ethan Ho, who will also compete in selected USF 2000 races this year. The Taiwanese-American dual citizen from Los Angeles already competed in last year's USF Juniors championship and finished seventh overall. He also made his USF 2000 debut at Portland International Raceway and represented Taiwan at the FIA Motorsport Games in the Formula 4 Cup at Circuit Paul Ricard in France.


DEForce Racing

Quinn Armstrong, Lucas Fecury, Brady Golan, Nicolas Giaffone


DEForce Racing has four drivers starting the new USF Juniors season. Quinn Armstrong already raced with the team last year. He only competed in the second half of the season and finished the 2022 USF Juniors Championship in twelfth place. The Australian achieved his best race result with a seventh-place finish in the second race at Virginia International Raceway. Lucas Fecury is also contesting his second year in the championship. The Brazilian also contested only selected races last year. His best result was a tenth place in the first race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In preparation for the 2023 season, he also competed in the Formula Regional Oceania in New Zealand. Brady Golan is entering his first single seater season. The 15-year-old from Houston, Texas competed in karting and Skip Barber Formula 4 last year, where he scored a fourth-place finish at Sebring. He also competed in the F4 US season finale at Circuit of the Americas. The team is completed by Nicolas Giaffone. The Brazilian is contesting his first car races in the United States this year. Last year he competed in Brazilian F4, where he won three races and finished on the podium another three times. He finished the championship in a strong fifth place.


Exclusive Autosport

Erick Schotten, Joey Brienza, Jack Jeffers, Giovanni Cabrera


The Exclusive Autosport team also has four cars on the grid this year. Erick Schotten is making his debut in the championship this season. In his native Brazil he won several titles in karting and last year he also took the title in the Formula Delta Championship. In the process, he won a total of eight races and stood on the podium 13 times. Last year Joey Brienza competed in the FRP F1600 Championship Series where he finished fifth. This year, in addition to his involvement in the USF Juniors Series, he is also competing in select races in the USF 2000 Championship with the team. At the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, he finished tenth in the first race. Jack Jeffers, the reigning Lucas Oil School Formula Car Race Series champion, has also joined the Exclusive squad. The driver from San Antonio, Texas secured the title with six race wins, which earned him the scholarship to compete in USF Juniors. Rounding out the team this year is Giovanni Cabrera. The 15-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be competing in his rookie season this year. Last year he mainly took part in kart races in Florida and completed his first Formula 4 tests.


Velocity Racing Development

Ethan Barker, Max Taylor, Jimmie Lockhart, Zack Ping


Velocity Racing Development will enter the new season with four drivers. Ethan Barker already competed in selected races in the F4 US Championship and USF Juniors last year. The 17-year-old from Houston, Texas achieved his best result with a third place finish in the first F4 US race at the Circuit of the Americas. Max Taylor competed in his first national kart races last season where he was one of the front runners. The 15-year-old rookie from Greenwich, Connecticut also competed in the Yacademy Winter Series earlier this year, where he finished runner-up in the USF Juniors class. For Jimmie Lockhart, it will also be his first year in the championship. Last year he completed a limited program of X30 senior kart racing in preparation for a full season of car racing in 2023. In addition to his USF Juniors program, Jimmie is also competing for Velocity in the F4 US Championship this year. The racer from Boca Raton, Florida won his first F4 US race at NOLA Motorsports Park just today. Completing the team is Zack Ping, who has inherited his brother Noah's seat in the USF 2000 championship after his brother's move to the British GB3 championship. So he will not race the full USF Juniors season as planned, but will concentrate on the USF 2000 while competing in selected USF Juniors races.


This year, 16 races will be held, spread over six tracks. Three races will be held over four weekends. Only two races are held at Barber Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.


Round 1/2/3: Sebring International Raceway (23-25 March)


Round 4/5: Barber Motorsports Park (28 April)


Round 6/7/8: Virginia International Raceway (3-4 June)


Round 9/10: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (8 July)


Round 11/12/13: Road America (12-13 August)


Round 14/15/16: Circuit of The Americas (25-27 August)


Each race will be a road race and the following points are awarded for the driver championship.


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 year's USF Juniors Spring Training Test was held together with USF Pro and USF 2000 at Sebring International Raceway at the end of February. The entry level on the Road To Indy was only on track for three practice sessions on the first day. Joey Brienza set the fastest lap time of the day in the second practice session. The busiest driver at Sebring was Ethan Ho. He completed a total of 52 laps.


Test Session 1

P1: Nicolas Giaffone - DEForce / 2m12.037s

P2: Max Taylor - Velocity RD / +0.579s

P3: Quinn Armstrong - DEForce / +0.620s

P4: Ethan Ho - DC Autosport / +0.687s

P5: Jack Jeffers - Exclusive / +1.386s


Test Session 2

P1: Joey Brienza - Exclusive / 2m11.964s

P2: Quinn Armstrong - DEForce / +0.102s

P3: Nicolas Giaffone - DEForce / +0.253s

P4: Jimmie Lockhart - Velocity RD / +0.280s

P5: Ethan Ho - DC Autosport / +0.390s


Test Session 3

P1: Nicolas Giaffone - DEForce / 2m12.009s

P2: Ethan Ho - DC Autosport / +0.135s

P3: Jack Jeffers - Exclusive / +0.278s

P4: Quinn Armstrong - DEForce / +0.624s

P5: Lucas Fecury - DEForce / +0.938s


As I already did with some other racing series last year, I dare to make a little prediction for this year's USF Juniors driver and team championships.


Drivers Championship Prediction


P1: Nicolas Giaffone

P2: Ethan Ho

P3: Joey Brienza

P4: Max Taylor

P5: Quinn Armstrong


We can look forward to an exciting battle for the drivers' championship title. In my opinion, half of the starting grid can become champions depending on how the season progresses. For me, this includes drivers like Nicolas Giaffone, Ethan Ho, Joey Brienza, Jack Jeffers, Max Taylor and Erick Schotten. In the end, I think Nicolas Giaffone will prevail, as long as he brings more consistency to his results than he did last year in Brazilian Formula 4. His opponents definitely won't make it easy for him. In addition to the drivers mentioned above, names like Quinn Armstrong, Ethan Barker and Jimmie Lockhart will also be competing for podium places and race wins during the course of the season.


Teams Championship Prediction


P1: DEForce Racing 

P2: Exclusive Autosport

P3: Velocity Racing Development


DEForce, Exclusive and Velocity will decide the champion among themselves with four drivers each. Since I estimate all three driver lineups to be similarly strong, I expect a close three-way battle between the teams. In the end, I would bet on DEForce to make the race and take the title in the team championship.


The first races of the season will be held the weekend of March 23-25 at Sebring International Raceway.

written by Claudio Graf  / 12th March, 2023