Solid USF Pro Championships Weekend at Sebring for DC Autosport
 March 30, 2023| 
  • Team News
Ho
The team contested both the USF Juniors and USF2000 in the season opener at Sebring
 
SEBRING, Fla. – It was double the effort for DC Autosport last weekend in the USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires season opener at Sebring International Raceway, as the team competed on two of the three rungs of the vaunted driver development ladder system.
 
Carson Etter (Villa Park, Calif.), a freshman at Boise State University, made his USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires debut, having competed for several years in off-road racing. Ethan Ho (Los Angeles) pulled double duty, contesting both the USF Juniors and USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires series races. Both drivers acquitted themselves well on Sebring’s notoriously tricky (and bumpy) 3.74-mile, 17-turn combination of asphalt and concrete racing surface – though both endured more than their share of bad luck.
 
“We had good pace but with all the incidents it didn't show in the points tally unfortunately,” said team principal Don Conner. “But both drivers did a great job. Ethan showed he can run at the front and Carson made a lot of progress through the event, it was great to see him racing in eighth by the end of the event.”
 
The USF Juniors tripleheader took place on Thursday and Friday, giving Ho the opportunity to finish all three races before the USF2000 races Saturday and Sunday.
 
Both drivers were able to put the lessons learned at the official series test at Sebring earlier in March to good use, as the race weekend was conducted in similar warm and humid conditions. At that test, Ho had paced in the top five in all three USF Juniors sessions (with the second quickest time in the third and final session), while setting the quickest time in the third and final USF2000 session. Etter showed speed as well, breaking into the USF Juniors top 10 with the eighth-quickest time in that final session.
 
That experience would come in handy, with only one official practice ahead of the lone qualifying session that would set starting positions for all three races. Ho qualified fifth and Etter 12th for race one, though races two and three would be set by the second-quickest qualifying time versus a driver’s quickest race lap.
 
USF Juniors
 
Race one took the green flag Thursday afternoon and the field headed into battle immediately, with the leaders going four-wide through turn one. Ho and Etter tucked in and took the measure of the drivers around them in the early stages of the race.
 
On lap three, Ho decided to make his move, tucking to the inside of seventh position heading into turn three. Unfortunately, the car ahead spun at the exit of the turn, sending Ho into the grass in avoidance maneuvers. He recovered quickly but nonetheless found himself at the back of the pack. Meanwhile, Etter fought hard, learning a great deal about how to race the Tatuus JR-23, especially in traffic.
 
Making smart but decisive moves, Ho carved his way back through the field to come home in eighth position, while Etter took the checkered flag in 11th in his series debut.
 
Race two was once again green for the entire 10 lap event. Ho started in fifth and Etter was set to start 11th until a battery issue saw him start the race from the pit lane.
 
Ho darted to the inside in turn one, looking to move forward, but with drivers again going three-wide in turn one, he wisely tucked back in and bided his time. As drivers shuffled for position, Ho found himself back in seventh position but made calculated moves forward, battling tires that were going off in the heat to take fourth at the checkered flag. Once again, Etter fought hard throughout the 10-lap event to bring the car home in 11th position.
 
Race three late Friday afternoon saw the drivers again crowd into turn one, with drivers trying the inside then the outside to gain position. In the hectic shuffle, Etter held his ground in the chaos, launching himself into eighth position, making a pass for seventh at the midway point. Meanwhile, Ho, falling back to 11th in the early laps, once again began working his way back through the field. But while fighting for position midway through the race, he found himself in the middle of a three-wide run through turns 12 and 13, with a competitor clipping Ho’s front wing off and forcing him to settle for ninth at the checkers. Etter battled hard to the end but a small mistake in turn three caused him to clip a curb and do a half spin, which put him back in 11th position.
 
USF2000
 
Ho then jumped into the Tatuus USF-22 on Saturday morning, setting the fourth-quickest time in practice. But a mechanical issue and an ill-timed red flag prevented Ho from getting a single flying lap, putting him back in the race one starting field. He started 14th and was hit from behind while working his way forward, finishing 18th with a flat tire.
 
Qualifying a much more representative fourth for race two, Ho jumped into the fray at the green flag, taking third position with an outside move in turn one. He fell to fourth on lap two but stayed in the fight, dicing with Elliot Cox and making a solid defensive move on the back straight before Cox was able to nose ahead. But Ho stayed right on the rear wing of Cox, who was stapled to Evagoras Papasavvas in third – until those two drivers came together with six laps remaining. Ho had to go through the dirt to avoid the incident and emerged from the incident in fourth position. After the subsequent restart, Ho was caught up in another incident, clipped from the left and then hit from behind.
 
Next up for DC Autosport and USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires will be the doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park – alongside the NTT INDYCAR SERIES – on April 27 and 28. Tune into USFJuniors.com for all the action!
 
QUOTEBOARD
 
ETHAN HO – No. 68 Triple S Suspensions

USF Juniors Race 1: Start – 5th / Finish – 8th
USF Juniors Race 2: Start – 5th / Finish – 4th
USF Juniors Race 3: Start – 7th / Finish – 9th
 
USF2000 Race 1: Start – 14th / Finish – 18th
USF2000 Race 2: Start – 4th / Finish – 15th
 
“It was the best and worst race weekend of my entire car racing career. We’ve come a long way from last year in terms of raw speed but one unfortunate incident after another made for a result that didn’t reflect that. In Juniors, qualifying fifth on the inside meant that I was boxed in from all sides with nowhere to go, but we were consistently fast all weekend.
 
“The transition from Juniors to USF2000 wasn’t too difficult – we adapted quickly to the difference in speed. We just didn’t have the best of luck, either in qualifying or in the races. I had some good battles in race two, which was fun – though it wasn’t fun having the two guys ahead of me come together and nearly take me out! I could see them coming at me as they were spinning, I was just trying not to get hit. Then there was the incident at the end – it was very disappointing; we’d been doing so well through the whole race.
 
“But it shows that our speed in the series test wasn’t a fluke; we can be up there, we just need some more luck on our side.”
 
CARSON ETTER – Priority Workforce
Race 1: Start – 12th / Finish – 11th
Race 2: Start – 11th / Finish – 11th
Race 3: Start – 11th / Finish – 11th
 
“Overall, a pretty solid weekend. I made a lot of adjustments after the series test earlier this month to improve my pace and I closed the gap to the rest of the field. But this is such a competitive series – the top nine are within a second and a half. The drivers are so evenly matched I feel as though anyone can win a race.
 
“I do need to be more aggressive at the start. Drivers get into a groove by lap four and really pull away so the early race aggression is the most important takeaway for me. And of course, most tracks are fairly smooth, not where you’re jumping through the corners, so that also takes some getting used to. I’m definitely looking forward to Barber!

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