Clark Maintains USF Juniors Superiority with Barber Win
 April 28, 2022| 
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LEEDS, Ala. – Mac Clark continued his USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires mastery by leading throughout this afternoon’s first leg of the Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Clark, from Milton, Ont., remained under pressure for the first half of the all-green 20-lap race before taking advantage of some in-fighting to pull clear in the closing stages. He and the DEForce Racing team are now unbeaten in three races.

Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., who started fifth, moved up impressively to finish second. Velocity Racing Development teammate Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., the youngest driver in the field at age 13, completed the podium.

After sweeping both races from the pole last weekend at Ozarks International Raceway in the inaugural USF Juniors event, Clark maintained his form this morning in qualifying by posting the fastest lap and securing his third consecutive Cooper Tires Pole Award.

Clark immediately leapt into the lead at the start, albeit with a train of cars keeping him honest. Andre Castro, from New York, N.Y., who set the fastest time in the lone morning practice session before annexing a front row position in qualifying, held second in the early going ahead of Johnson and Corry, who managed to sneak past another VRD teammate, Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., on the opening lap.

The top four eked out a small advantage over De Tullio in the first few laps, but Clark was biding his time out front, anxious not to overwork his tires too soon. Corry moved up one more place on the seventh lap by out-braking Johnson at Turn Five, and then made quick work of Castro, too, to vault into second.

Corry then put the race leader under intense pressure before making a mistake on the half-distance lap. Clark, at the same time, posted what was to stand as his fastest lap of the race, and suddenly his once tenuous lead had ballooned to a relatively comfortable 1.7 seconds over Johnson, with Corry recovering from his error and slotting in behind.

Clark continued to increase his margin before backing off in the closing stages once his victory – and another PFC Award for David and Ernesto Martinez as the winning car owners – had been assured.

Corry managed to redress the situation over his teammate on Lap 14 before pulling away rapidly in second place. Corry also netted the extra bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

Johnson held on for third, despite a late challenge from Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Wellington, Fla., whose attempt to wrest away the position ended with a broken front wing which dropped him to sixth at the finish behind De Tullio and Castro.

Race Two of the Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama will start tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. CDT.

Provisional championship points after 3 of 16 races:

1. Mac Clark, 98
2. Sam Corry, 70
3. Nikita Johnson, 62
4. Alessandro De Tullio, 59
5. Andre Castro, 55
6. Jeremy Fairbairn, 40
7. Ethan Ho, 37
8. Elliot Cox, 35
9. Titus Sherlock, 32
10. Noah Ping, 32

Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “The DEForce Racing and Valkyrie team has given me such a good race car to start off the season. I prepared myself all winter long and the goal was to come out strong, and the goal was to win every race – but until I won the first three races, I had no idea of how it would go. Super thankful for everything that’s happened so far, I just want to build on that. The VRD cars are really fast so it’s heads down tonight, look at the data, try to improve myself and work with my engineer, Carlos, to improve the car and try to extract the most we can for tomorrow’s race.”

Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a great race. I had a good start with Nikita, and we were both just trying to get close to Mac. I was catching Mac toward the end but made a mistake on the back section that really cost me. It’s awesome to race here and this is one of the most beautiful tracks we’ll go to all season, but it’s a hard track to pass on. We’ll go back with the team and look at the data, but we know we have pace. The VRD cars are amazing, the team has done a great job so we’ll get after it tomorrow.”

Nikita Johnson (#7 Allen Exploration, LLC/Walker’s Cay-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a good race and I had a good start. We were trying to run down Mac and I was really pushing. I had a good battle back and forth with Sam – he was really fast. I could see that he was able to catch Mac. We tried to stay in the chase but the car was lacking a bit at the end and I made some mistakes. I had a fun battle with Alessandro and Andre late in the race and I succeeded in keeping them behind me. I can’t thank the whole VRD crew enough – and my parents, for always supporting me.”

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