Papasavvas is Perfect in Flag-to-Flag Home USF2000 Win
 July 6, 2024| 
  • Series News
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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Local driver Evagoras Papasavvas put a disappointing Friday firmly behind him as he sped to a flag-to-flag victory for Jay Howard Driver Development in this afternoon’s second leg of the Tatuus Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio tripleheader. On pole for the second straight day, Papasavvas, from Loveland, Ohio, repeated his maiden success from one year ago. He also moved up to second place in the USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire point standings with his first win of the season.

Teammate Michael Costello, from Naples, Fla., maintained his recent strong form by claiming a second runner-up finish in his last three races, while Elliot Cox, from Indianapolis, Ind., also snagged his second podium finish of the season with third in his patriotically liveried Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development Tatuus USF-22.

Papasavvas has been the form man all weekend. He backed up his first Continental Tire Pole Award of the season yesterday by once again starting at the front of the field, courtesy of his second-fastest lap during the solitary qualifying session on Friday being quicker than all of his rivals.

The weather turned a 180-degree change from yesterday, with a treacherously wet track replaced by perfect summer conditions. And, having made a mistake on the opening lap on Friday afternoon, there was no such hiccup today as Papasavvas made a clean getaway to maintain the early advantage.

Front row starter Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing), from Newcastle, Australia, was unfortunately shuffled down the order on the opening lap as Costello took up position behind Papasavvas and another home-state driver, Thomas Schrage, from Bethel, Ohio, slipped into third for VRD Racing.

Schrage, a former FRP F1600 champion and Team USA Scholarship winner, has seemingly endured more than his fair share of misfortune since making his USF2000 debut at Mid-Ohio last year. Sadly, his luck was no better this afternoon as his car’s shock-absorber cover flew off on the third lap... and, incredibly, lodged itself firmly against the rear wing, stripping his car of downforce.

Schrage battled on gamely for a few laps before giving up the unequal struggle and heading for pit lane. Once the offending piece of bodywork had been replaced, Schrage rejoined at the back of the field and promptly turned a series of fastest laps of the race which, with the improved weather conditions today, were enough to ensure that he will start tomorrow’s third race of the weekend from pole position. Lady Luck still wasn’t done, however, as Schrage headed to the pits once again with just a couple of laps remaining after the car’s fire extinguisher mysteriously discharged.

Following a brief full-course caution which concluded with four laps remaining, Papasavvas edged clear of Costello to cement a well-deserved victory, while Costello just held off a strong attack from Cox to maintain second.

Behind, yesterday’s winner, Max Taylor (VRD Racing), from Hoboken, N.J., mounted an impressive late charge by making three passes in the final few laps to annex fourth position ahead of championship leader Max Garcia (Pabst Racing), from Coconut Grove, Fla., Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport), from Golden, Colo., and Brazilian Nicolas Giaffone (DEForce Racing). However, Taylor was later assessed a one-position penalty for blocking, which enabled Garcia to extend his championship lead to 44 points over Papasavvas with six races remaining on the season.

Taylor’s effort from ninth on the grid secured his first Tilton Hard Charger Award of the season.

The PFC Award went the way of Jay Howard as the winning team owner.

The weekend will conclude with a third race tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. EDT, immediately before the NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup.

Provisional championship points after 12 of 18 races:
1. Max Garcia, 285
2. Evagoras Papasavvas, 241
3. Sam Corry, 237
4. Max Taylor, 231
5. Joey Brienza, 187
6. Elliot Cox, 183
7. Hudson Schwartz, 150
8. Nicolas Giaffone, 149
9. Michael Costello, 143
10. Ayrton Houk, 131

Evagoras Papasavvas (#6 Ares Elite Sports Vision/D1 Training-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-22): “The race was unbelievable. Just from the start, I had my teammate behind me and we had a plan before the start of the race to stay in front the entire race and just focus on ourselves. We executed and that’s what we did. I stayed in front the entire race and just hit my marks. The car was really fast and felt great and I have to thank the team for that. It’s unbelievable what we did and we won in great fashion for the team with a one-two. We had a yellow that came and that bunched up back together but I just stuck to my line. It was great.”

Michael Costello (#8 ProGuard Warranty/-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus USF-22): “The race was good. I knew I had the pace for second. I am not really in the championship but Evagoras is and I didn’t give him too hard of a time. I am just happy with the team having a one-two. The car was great all day, even yesterday but unfortunate events happened in race one but we came back and put it one-two today. I just want to say a great job to everyone – Evagoras and the team. It feels so good to be back on the podium.”

Elliot Cox (#67 Drive Planning/Hartman Oil-Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development Tatuus USF-22): “The race was good, consistent. I got up to fourth at the start and moved into third about six laps in and maintained. We were catching second for a while and the yellow came out and kind of halted the progress we were making. I am still so happy for a third-place finish – another podium – and hopefully come back and challenge for the win tomorrow.”
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