Garcia Doubles Up for Pabst to Take an Early USF2000 Points Lead
 March 10, 2024| 
  • Series News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A sweep of The Andersen Companies Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has catapulted 14-year-old Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., into an early lead in the quest for this year’s USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire title chase and a scholarship valued at $458,400 to progress onto the next level of the USF Pro Championships ladder in 2025. Pabst Racing’s Garcia executed a bold pass for the lead just before the midway point in this afternoon’s second race of the weekend and maintained his advantage to the finish.

Pabst Racing teammate Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., also slipped past early leader Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Loveland, Ohio, for second place to ensure a reversal of their finishing positions from yesterday’s opening race of the season.

Garcia once again started at the front of the pack after claiming his second Continental Tire Pole Award, but for the second successive day found himself behind after the first corner as Papasavvas, a second-place finisher also in 2023, used his prior experience to fine effect by slipping into the lead.

Canadian Nico Christodoulou also made a fast getaway for VRD Racing, jumping from sixth to third at the start, although he was unable to hold that position for long as Corry, who had started second, made his way back into third on Lap Three.

Garcia heaped the pressure on Papasavvas in the early laps, prior to a full-course caution due to an incident farther back in the field, although as the leaders began their ninth lap, Garcia made a fully committed lunge under braking for Turn One and was able to wrest away the advantage.

The resulting loss of momentum also allowed Corry to clip through into second, which is where he remained.

The race ultimately finished behind the Safety Car following an incident in Turn Four with just a couple of laps remaining after Ayrton Houk, from McCordsville, Ind., was forced to abruptly slow when the fire extinguisher in his DC Autosport Tatuus unexpectedly discharged. Even more unfortunately, Brazilian Lucas Fecury was caught unawares in his DEForce entry and also forced out of the race.

Up front, the two Pabst cars completed another excellent weekend for the Oconomowoc, Wis.-based squad by claiming a one-two finish. Papasavvas remained in third, while Elliot Cox, from Indianapolis, Ind., completed a strong weekend by taking fourth once more for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development team.

Christodoulou ended the day in fifth, just ahead of Exclusive Autosport’s Thomas Schrage, from Bethel, Ohio, who overcame some difficulties in qualifying and yesterday’s race to charge impressively from 17th on the grid to sixth. Schrage's effort netted him the Tilton Hard Charger Award.

Australian Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing) finished seventh again as Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport), from Golden, Colo., Hudson Schwartz (Pabst Racing) from Arlington, Va., and a second Australian, Xavier Kokai (VRD Racing), rounded out the top 10.

Augie Pabst claimed yet another PFC Award as the winning team owner.

The series next will return to NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., the scene of last week’s Spring Training preseason test, for a tripleheader race weekend on April 5-7.

Provisional championship points after 2 of 18 races:
1. Max Garcia, 64
2. Evagoras Papasavvas, 48
3. Sam Corry, 47
4. Elliot Cox, 38
5. Nico Christodoulou, 32
6. Quinn Armstrong, 28
7. Joey Brienza, 24
8. Thomas Schrage, 23
9. Michael Costello, 19
10. Xavier Kokai, 18

Max Garcia (#24 Pabst Auto Parts-Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-22): “I was jumped at the start but got by him full-send on a restart. We got into the lead and never really looked back after that. The red flag was a bit stressful, just waiting there, but once we got back to racing, the car was fast. Big thanks again to Pabst Racing.”

Sam Corry (#23 Redline Oil/Stilo/Simpson Race Products-Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-22): “Today was a good race. It was definitely hotter than yesterday. With all the yellows and the red, it just threw everyone off I think. We were having to think more than we did yesterday. It’s good to get two podiums and good points for the championship overall. I am super happy with the car, super happy with the team. Good job to Max. He did a top job this weekend. We’ll move on to NOLA with some stride and see what we can do.”

Evagoras Papasavvas (#6 BodyWise/Tiger Natural Gas/Ares Elite-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-22): “We had a pretty good start and I got myself into the lead. The car was strong in the beginning. It’s just disappointing. A win is obviously what I would like for sure, especially with my goals for this year, but third place is still good. It is better than nothing. Some of my teammates didn’t even finish the race so I am thankful for that for sure. Points are points and that is good for the long run. We look forward to NOLA.”
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