2023 REVIEW - USF 2000

The USF 2000 Championship came to a close in September at Portland International Raceway. In this review, we take a look at all the race weekends of 2023 and the drivers who stood out to me. 




The season opener took place on the first weekend in March on the streets of St. Petersburg in Florida. The reigning F4 US champion Lochie Hughes took pole position for the first race. He controlled the race from the lead and opened his season with a victory. Second was Evagoras Papasavvas ahead of Nikita Johnson in third place. A spectacular recovery drive was made by Simon Sikes, who came from 15th on the grid to fourth.


Pabst Racing driver Simon Sikes started the second race from pole position. But he was beaten in the race by Nikita Johnson, who celebrated his first USF 2000 victory at the age of 14 at home. Sikes took second place, while Lochie Hughes secured another podium finish in third.




The second race weekend took place at Sebring International Raceway. Simon Sikes took both pole positions. In a hard-fought race one, Sikes only had to admit defeat to Lochie Hughes in the last corner. The Australian secured his second victory of the season in the third race. The podium was completed by Evagoras Papasavvas in third place.


In the second race, Simon Sikes finally prevailed from pole position and claimed his first victory of the year. Mac Clark crossed the finish line in second place ahead of Jacob Douglas in third. For the New Zealander, this was the first USF 2000 podium ever.




The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course then saw three races in May. Nikita Johnson started the first race from pole position and led most of the laps. In the end he was beaten by his teammate Sam Corry who celebrated his first victory in the USF 2000 championship. Lochie Hughes finished the race in second place ahead of Nikita Johnson who finished third.


In the second race Johnson started again from pole position, but again he finished only third. Simon Sikes won his second race of the year ahead of Lochie Hughes who finished second.


In the third and final race of the weekend, Sikes started from the front. But again the driver on pole position failed to convert it into a victory. The Pabst Racing driver also finished the race in third place as Johnson in both races before. The race was won by JHDD driver Lochie Hughes, who already took his third victory on the third race weekend of the year. The podium was completed by Nikita Johnson in second place.




Lucas Oil Raceway hosted the only oval race of the year in May. The Freedom 75 is held every year in the same week as the Indy 500. Mac Clark started from pole position ahead of Evagoras Papasavvas. The two immediately pulled away from the rest of the field as the sun set over the rolling start. The two could not be caught and Clark took his first win of the year. The podium was completed by Simon Sikes in third place, who made his way through the field from 9th on the grid.




In mid-June, two races were scheduled at Road America. Lochie Hughes lead the field from pole position in race one ahead of Sikes and Clark until he went off exiting turn six and dropped behind the pair. Multiple caution periods and incidents shuffled the field further. Simon Sikes ultimately took the race win. Jacob Douglas finished in second ahead of Nikita Johnson in third.


In race two, Mac Clark started in pole position. Hughes managed to overtook Clark and several caution periods followed. Lochie Hughes secured the win, with Clark finishing second ahead of Max Garcia in third. Hughes lead the championship by just three points after the round.




Just two weeks later, three races were scheduled at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Evagoras Papasavvas took the pole position for the first race and managed to turn it into his first win on the "Road To Indy". Simon Sikes in second and Mac Clark in third completed the podium. 


The second race was started by Simon Sikes from pole position. After a dominant start to the race, a crash between Sikes and Hughes occurred later in the race, allowed Mac Clark to benefit and take his second win of the season. Evagoras Papasavvas took second place ahead of Sam Corry in third.


Sikes started the last race from pole position again. This time he was able to control the race from start to finish and took a safe victory. Second was Nikita Johnson ahead of Mac Clark who crossed the finish line in third.




Just a few days later, the action continued in Canada on the streets of Toronto. Evagoras Papasavvas took pole position for the first race. As it started to rain before the race, the race was declared wet. However, the track dried quickly which Simon Sikes was able to take advantage of with an early change to dry tires. The pit stop secured Sikes his fifth win of the season ahead of Max Garcia in second and Logan Adams in third.


Simon Sikes then started the second race from pole position. In the course of the race, however, he had to admit defeat to local hero Nico Christodoulou, who celebrated his first victory on his only USF 2000 weekend this year. The podium was completed by Simon Sikes in second place and Lochie Hughes in third.





The season finale took place at Portland International Raceway in early September. New Zealand's Jacob Douglas was the driver of the weekend. After setting the fastest time in qualifying, he started all three races from pole position. In the first race of the weekend there was double reason for joy for the Pabst Racing Team. While Jacob Douglas drove towards his first victory in a controlled manner at the front, his teammate Simon Sikes secured the championship title in third place. The podium was completed by Evagoras Papasavvas.


In the second race, too, there was no way around Jacob Douglas, who secured another victory. Behind him, Simon Sikes took second place. Third place went to an impressive Nikita Johnson, who also competed in the USF Pro 2000 this weekend, making it six races in one weekend.


The very last race win of the season then went to Simon Sikes again. He passed his teammate and pole setter Douglas on the very first lap and could not be caught after that. Jacob Douglas made it onto the podium once again in second place. Third place went to Jonathan Browne, who celebrated his second podium of the season.


Simon Sikes


Simon Sikes won the championship at the final weekend and the battle for the title was also open for longer. In retrospect, however, a certain dominance of the racer from Georgia can be seen. Sikes took part in the podium ceremony in 14 of 18 races. He was able to win six of those races. In 2020, he won the FRP F1600 Championshipin equally dominant fashion. In the years that followed, he struggled to keep the budget in check. It's all the nicer to see that with this title and the prize money that comes with it, he can take the next step in his career. Sikes is an extremely talented racer who definitely needs to get the opportunity to prove himself in higher classes.


Lochie Hughes


The Australian was Sikes' challenger in the fight for the title for large parts of the season. With four wins and four further podium finishes, he can look back on a very successful rookie year on the "Road To Indy". Especially at the beginning of the year he was very convincing and could even lead the championship for a short time. Last year's F4 US champion proved once again that he has what it takes to make it big in the United States. Hughes is for me one of the most talented Australians currently racing in junior series. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the Indycar series in a few years.


Nikita Johnson


The driver of the year for me, however, is Nikita Johnson. The 15-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida was the most consistent racer of the season alongside Sikes. He secured the runner-up title with just one win. A total of eight podiums and 16 finishes in the top eight have enabled him to do so. Johnson is an exceptional talent. You can put him in a wide variety of cars, he'll win with every single one of them. He has also raced in the USF Pro 2000 at Austin and Portland this year, where he has already finished on the podium four times in five races, winning twice. He will definitely be fighting for the Drivers' Championship title next year as well.


Mac Clark


The year didn't start out the way he wanted for the 2022 USF Juniors champion, but midway through the season he managed to shift up a gear and compete for race wins. By the end of the year, Clark was on the podium six times, of which he won two races. Among them, he won the Freedom 75 race on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. The Canadian has now managed to finish at the front of every race series he competed in for several years in a row. This year was further proof to me that Mac Clark is destined for great things. With two podium finishes in his USF Pro 2000 debut, I expect him to be competing for wins and the title in 2024 as well.


Evagoras Papasavvas


The surprise of the year for me was Evagoras Papasavvas. The American, who has his roots in Cyprus, already had a strong start to the year with a second, a fourth and a third place, but was able to improve even more over the course of the season. In the end, he finished on the podium six times and won one race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Papasavvas convinced me several times this year. I'm curious to see how he will do in the coming years.


Jacob Douglas


Jacob Douglas actually had a very mixed season. The New Zealander only made his real breakthrough at the season finale in Portland. But then he did so all the more impressively. After taking his first pole position in qualifying, he converted it into two race wins, another podium finish and a fastest race lap. After struggling to get going at Exclusive at the start of the season, he switched to Pabst Racing, where he eventually fared better. If he can carry over his form at the end of the season to next year, Douglas will definitely have something to say about the title.


Max Garcia


And Max Garcia also particularly caught my eye this year. The rookie from Miami, Florida, is only 14 years old. Since he was still too young for the season opener in St. Petersburg, he only made his debut at Sebring Raceway, where he immediately finished the races in sixth and seventh place. It was only a matter of time before he was seen on the podium. He managed to do so twice. First as third at Road America and then as second in the first race in Toronto. For me, Garcia is definitely one of the top favorites for the title next season.


Nico Christodoulou


Last but not least, I'd like to mention Nico Christodoulou. The Canadian only competed in the races in Toronto this season, but managed to make an impression that weekend. He had already gained experience in the series before, but it's not easy to get used to it so well in just a few practice sessions and to fight for race wins right away. In my opinion, the USF 2000 field this year was peppered with several big talents, so a performance like the one Christodoulou showed in Toronto is all the more impressive.


P1: Simon Sikes / 447

P2: Nikita Johnson / 344 

P3: Lochie Hughes / 335

P4: Evagoras Papasavvas / 323

P5: Mac Clark / 318 

P6: Jacob Douglas / 249 

P7: Sam Corry / 222

P8: Jorge Garciarce / 212

P9: Max Garcia / 207

P10: Chase Gardner / 193

P11: Al Morey / 172 

P12: Elliot Cox / 145

P13: Danny Dyszelski / 141

P14: Ethan Ho / 137

P15: Gordon Scully / 133

P16: Maxwell Jamieson / 121

P17: Avery Towns / 101

P18: Max Taylor / 86 

P19: Zack Ping / 60

P20: Thomas Schrage / 55 

P21: Nico Christodoulou / 48

P22: Logan Adams / 40 

P23: Carson Etter / 38

P24: Joey Brienza / 37 

P25: Trey Burke / 29 

P26: Nicholas d'Orlando / 23 

P27: Louka St-Jean / 22 

P28: Brady Golan / 21

P29: Jack Jeffers / 19

P30: Lucas Fecury / 19

P31: Lucas Mann / 17

P32: Ava Dobson / 15

P33: Andre Castro / 13

P34: Dane Scott / 12


P1: Pabst Racing / 476 

P2: Jay Howard Driver Development / 413

P3: Velocity Racing Development / 372

P4: DEForce Racing / 272

P5: Exclusive Autosport / 157

P6: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development / 109

P7: DC Autosport / 74

P8: Future Star Racing / 17

written by Claudio Graf  / 9th September, 2023