Nick d'Orlando leads Exclusive Challenge at St. Pete
 March 10, 2023| 
  • Team News
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HARTSDALE, N.Y. – The 2023 season of the USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires championship kicked off on the streets of St Petersburg, Fla., last weekend. The season-opener is currently the only race on the 2023 calendar for 19-year-old Nicholas d’Orlando due to budget restrictions.  As such, the Hartsdale, N.Y. and University of North Carolina Charlotte student had one mission. “I’ve only got one shot”, he said prior to the weekend. ”I’ll make it count.” Mission accomplished!

He took to the streets of St Petersburg in the USF2000 series as one of five cars with Indianapolis-based Exclusive Autosport. His only practice he’s had since he last sat in the race car at Portland International Raceway over six months ago, was the three practice sessions at the USF Pro Championships official series test at Sebring Race just two days before St. Petersburg. His results in St. Petersburg were impressive with his career best finish in the USF Pro Championships and completing the weekend as the top driver for Exclusive Autosport.  He currently sits in the top eight of the drivers’ points championship in a field of 21 drivers.

After a difficult practice session Friday morning, d'Orlando qualified in the seventh position later that afternoon (in the only qualifying session of the weekend). Being a street race, the course is lined with concrete barriers which is extremely challenging, and often intimidating, for any USF2000 driver, but Saturday’s first head-to-head action proved d’Orlando was a solid driver keeping it all together and gaining one position for a sixth-place finish.   

Sunday’s early morning start as the first class on the racing surface for the day, had d’Orlando starting in the 6th position with another strong and aggressive start on the opening laps. Unfortunately, in the opening laps he over-drove the corner and went into the safe runoff in Turn 10 which sent him sliding down the order. He made a solid comeback from deeper in the field to finish thirteenth. 

“Firstly, I’m quite proud of the accomplishments the team and I achieved this weekend.” states d’Orlando. “After six months out of the car, I think it says volumes that we were able to bring home a sixth place in race one and be on pace to compete for even more in race two. I strongly believe that with more experience on track with the team we would be confidently fighting for wins and podium results. So hopefully we can find some new sponsors to step in so we can make that happen this year."

We would like to send a special thanks to Michael & Kimberly Duncalfe and everyone at Exclusive Autosports for their support and the opportunity for Nick to compete with them this past weekend, and to our partners at Priority Technology Holdings, Focused Project Management, DB Collaborative, Rising Star Racing, MotorMedia USA, and UFC Gym - Mamaroneck NY.

d’Orlando and his partners continue to push off track to find additional funding to keep him in action when the USF Pro Championships returns for the next round at Sebring Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 23–26, 2023.
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