Clark Wins at Mid-Ohio as Championship Rivals Clash
 July 1, 2023| 
  • Series News
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Mac Clark, from Milton, Ont., Canada was perfectly positioned to take his second USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires victory of the season this morning for DEForce Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after championship rivals Simon Sikes (Pabst Racing) and Lochie Hughes (Jay Howard Driver Development) clashed at Turn Two with four laps remaining.

Hughes’ teammate Evagoras Papasavvas, from Loveland, Ohio, continued his banner weekend at his home track by finishing second. Sam Corry (VRD Racing), from Cornelius, N.C., followed in third.

Sikes, from Augusta, Ga., began the day in perfect style. After regaining the points lead yesterday in the first of three races that will comprise the Discount Tire Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Sikes started at the front of the field this morning by virtue of posting the second-fastest lap of all drivers during the lone qualifying session on Friday to secure his fifth Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season.

Sikes took off confidently in the lead and quickly built a seemingly unassailable advantage of more than seven seconds. Unfortunately, a midfield incident with seven laps remaining necessitated a full-course caution and slashed Sikes’ lead to nothing.

At the ensuing restart, Hughes, running second, spotted what would likely have been his only opportunity to make a challenge for the lead as he lunged to the inside under braking for the Keyhole, Turn Two. Hughes caromed into Sikes’ right-rear wheel before cartwheeling spectacularly into the gravel trap and out of the race.

Sikes was able to continue in second place, minus his rear wing, but just as the race was about to be restarted for a one-lap dash to the checkered flag, race officials determined that the car was in an unsafe condition and Sikes was instructed to bring the car onto pit lane. He was eventually classified an unrepresentative 18th, his only consolation the fact he was able to claim the three bonus points for pole position, fastest race lap and leading most laps.

Meanwhile, Clark maintained his advantage on the final lap and crossed the line merely 0.2189-seconds ahead of Corry, with VRD teammate Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., and the two Pabst Racing entries of Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., and Jacob Douglas, from Christchurch, New Zealand, hot on his heels.

Thomas Schrage (Exclusive Autosport), from Bethel, Ohio, claimed his second Tilton Hard Charger Award in as many days after rising from 21st on the grid to 11th.

David and Ernesto Martinez picked up the PFC Award as the winning car owners.

The final race of the weekend is scheduled for later this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

Provisional championship points after 12 of 18 races:
1. Simon Sikes, 277
2. Lochie Hughes, 270
3. Nikita Johnson, 246
4. Mac Clark, 224
5. Evagoras Papasavvas, 216
6. Chase Gardner, 147
7. Jorge Garciarce, 161
8. Sam Corry, 159
9. Jacob Douglas, 127
10 Max Garcia, 127

Mac Clark (#1 USF Pro Championships/Valkyrie AI/ARM/Clubine Motorsports-DEForce Racing Tatuus USF-22): “It was a crazy second race here at Mid-Ohio. That was insane. We managed to take advantage on the second to last restart and just be smart, keep our nose clean and managed to come away with the win. It is really special on Canada Day weekend for me to get it done and just a really big thank you to the team. This is really good for us in terms of the point standings, so I am really excited. A big thank you to all my sponsors. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Evagoras Papasavvas (#6 JHDD/CSU One Cure/Lucas Oil Products/LHP-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-22): “I wouldn’t say the race went smoothly. It was definitely up and down position-wise. I was working to put my car in the right spots on the track and to make sure I stayed out of trouble and it took me where it took me to second place. I have to thank God to clear the path to get me into second, and I am really thankful to all my sponsors and everyone that supports me.”

Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-VRD Racing Tatuus USF-22): “Today’s race was pretty good and the car was pretty good. It rained last night, so the track was a bit different than we expected. It’s always a challenge here. Mid-Ohio is fun, and we just had to stay in it starting P10 and be consistent with what we had. We knew it would be a bit chaotic at the end so we had to let the race come to us. Once it did, we ended up with a podium. It is good to get the VRD Racing car up here and hopefully we can go for it again in Race Three.”

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