Armstrong Claims USF Juniors Victory at Road America
 August 12, 2023| 
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Quinn Armstrong sped to his third win of the season and second in succession for DEForce Racing as the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America tripleheader kicked off this afternoon with an eventful 10-lap race. After starting from pole position, Armstrong, from Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia, narrowed the deficit to championship-leading teammate Nicolas Giaffone to 49 points with five races remaining on the season.

The Exclusive Autosport pair of Jack Jeffers, from San Antonio, Texas, and Joey Brienza, from Golden, Colo., finished second and third.

The high level of competition in this year’s USF Juniors field already had been amply demonstrated prior to qualifying earlier this afternoon. Carson Etter (DC Autosport), from Villa Park, Calif., Ethan Barker (VRD Racing), from Houston, Texas, and fellow Texan Jeffers all had enjoyed a share of the limelight by leading one of the three test sessions on Friday, while this morning during official practice it was VRD’s Max Taylor from Hoboken, N.J., who set the fastest time thus far at 2:15.609.

When it mattered in qualifying, Armstrong became the fifth different driver – from four different teams – to top the timing charts when he sliced well over four seconds from the USF Juniors qualifying lap record to secure his first ever Cooper Tires Pole Award. Armstrong’s best time of 2:15.003 was enough to edge Taylor by a scant 0.072 of a second. The previous mark, using a different equipment package, was established last year by eventual series champion Mac Clark at 2:19.578.

Armstrong took off into the lead at the start but was unable to break the draft on the long Road America straightaways as Taylor, Hudson Schwartz (VRD Racing) from Arlington, Va., Jeffers and Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing), from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., remained close behind during the early stages.

Taylor took the lead with a nice move under braking for Turn 12, Canada Corner, on the third lap, although Armstrong soon regained the advantage and was out front when the caution flags waved following an incident in the midfield at Turn Five.

Soon after the restart, Jeffers made a move on Taylor for second at Turn Five. Unfortunately, the pair then made contact at the next corner, which left Armstrong with a clear lead which he had no trouble in retaining until the finish.

Taylor was forced to make a pit stop to replace a damaged front wing. Teammate Lockhart also fell out of contention when he lost control and spun while the melee unfolded at Turn Six.

Jeffers was left alone in second, chased by teammate Brienza, who picked up the Tilton Hard Charger Award after having started in ninth.

Barker also profited from the dramas to claim a personal best fourth-place finish, well clear of Giaffone who could only salvage a distant sixth following an incident at the first corner which caused him to fall from fourth to the tail of the field.

DEForce Racing’s David and Ernesto Martinez took home their ninth PFC Award of the season as the winning car owners.

The fastest lap of the race was set impressively by Jay Howard Driver Development’s Ayden Ingratta, from Ruthven, Ont., Canada, who started third on his and the team’s debut but was forced into the pits after making contact with Giaffone at Turn One on the opening lap. The former karter returned to finish a lap down in 14th, although will start from the pole position for the first of two more races tomorrow at 10:10 a.m. CDT. The third and final race will see the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

Provisional championship points after 11 of 16 races:
1. Nicolas Giaffone, 285
2. Quinn Armstrong, 236
3. Joey Brienza, 214
4. Jack Jeffers, 213
5. Jimmie Lockhart, 171
6. Lucas Fecury, 157
7. Max Taylor, 151
8. Ethan Barker, 150
9. Brady Golan, 140
10. Erick Schotten, 139

Quinn Armstrong (#16 NDA-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “This win is massive. A win is always a big deal but when you can do two in a row, it builds on that confidence. It’s not over yet. We still have five more races left and we have to use this momentum to keep going and keep pushing. I went into today knowing it was going to be a high-speed game of chess with the tow. The restart didn’t make it easy but we managed to pull a bit of a gap with some carnage behind and drove off. We are still taking it race by race. There are so many factors to a championship; it just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s every race.”

Jack Jeffers (#92 Corpay Cross Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23): “The race went well. I was able to get up to third before the Safety Car came out, and after that I was able to take second from Max Taylor. I was able to do my own laps and try to run down Quinn. But he and the DEForce guys have a little something on us that we’ll find for tomorrow. Overall, a good race considering qualifying didn’t go our way.”

Joey Brienza (#91 UBS-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23): “I’m really happy with that race. On the timing sheets it will say third and on the podium, but this race would have been impossible without everyone on the team pitching in to get the engine swapped from qualifying to the race. If there was any way to get their names on this podium, I would. I am really happy and I am happy for them. Getting an engine changed in four hours is not easy at all. This is their podium. They earned it. I just went out and drove the car.”
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