Clark Makes His Mark on USF Juniors with Two Wins
 April 23, 2022| 
  • Series News
GRAVOIS MILLS, Mo. – USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires is up and running. And so is Canadian Mac Clark. The opening two races of the brand-new championship, a pre-step to the internationally acclaimed Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, were held today at the challenging and equally new Ozarks International Raceway, with Clark, from Milton, Ont., scoring a pair of dominant victories for DEForce Racing.
Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla., and Velocity Racing Development teammate Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., shared the second-place finishes, with Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., taking a brace of thirds aboard a third Velocity Ligier.
Clark established his mastery from the moment he took to the undulating 3.97-mile, 19-turn race track for the first time in testing on Friday. And after securing the inaugural Cooper Tires Pole Award with a lap more than a full second faster than his rivals, Clark made no mistake at the start and immediately began to exert his authority.
The 17-year-old Canadian completed the first of 12 laps a full 2.1 seconds clear of fellow front row starter Sam Corry and continued to drive away from the field. Clark’s advantage had grown to a whopping 14 seconds by Lap 10, when the yellow flags flew for the first and only time as a result of an incident involving Jacob Bolen (IGY6 Motorsports) at the back of the field.
Clark’s huge lead was erased immediately, but there were no concerns as the final lap and a half were completed behind the Safety Car and his win in the inaugural USF Juniors race was assured.
Corry held second from the start but Johnson, who started sixth after problems in qualifying, was on a charge. The youngest driver in the field at age 13, Johnson made up two positions on the opening lap, then scythed past Andre Castro (International Motorsports), from New York, N.Y., on Lap Four. Not content with third, Johnson put a move on his teammate on the ninth lap to secure a fine second-place finish.
Corry held on for third ahead of Castro, who was chased home by Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Wellington, Fla., after an impressive charge from eighth on the starting grid.
Clark repeated his form later in the afternoon. This time the race was interrupted by an incident on the opening lap which eliminated Fairbairn, Jake Bonilla (DEForce Racing), from San Antonio, Texas, and Castro’s teammate Alan Isambard, from West Palm Beach, Fla., but that proved to be only a minor inconvenience for Clark.
After a red flag stoppage to allow the track to be cleared, Clark carried on from where he left off, romping clear of the pace to take the checkered flag with a sizeable margin of 8.6 seconds.
Johnson, who started second, seemed set to maintain that position until spinning in Turn Seven halfway through the race which dropped him to seventh.
Corry took up the chase of Clark, but he had bigger concerns with teammate De Tullio looming large in his mirrors. The pair went into the final lap virtually side by side, with De Tullio making the move stick in Turn One and emerging to take second place.
Castro secured another fourth-place finish, well clear of Titus Sherlock (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Prosper, Texas, while Johnson managed to gain back one position in the closing stages by taking sixth from Californian Ethan Ho (DC Autosport w/Cape Motorsports).
Clark ended the day with a maximum score of 66 points and commanding early championship lead. He also earned a pair of PFC Awards for David and Ernesto Martinez as the winning car owners.
The third and final race of the opening weekend of the season will see the green flag tomorrow at 11:50 a.m. CDT.
Provisional championship points after two of 16 races:
1. Mac Clark, 66
2. Sam Corry, 44
3= Nikita Johnson, 40
3= Alessandro De Tullio, 40
5. Andre Castro, 38
6. Titus Sherlock, 27
7. Jeremy Fairbairn, 25
8. Elliot Cox, 25
9. Ethan Ho, 23
10= Alan Isambard, 20
10= Jake Bonilla, 20
10= Earl Tucker, 20
10= Noah Ping, 20
Race One Quoteboard:
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “Great race! I managed to take home the win and a big thank you to DEForce Racing for the mega-fast car. I really love the track and I’m looking forward to doing it again in Race Two.”
Nikita Johnson (#7 Allen Exploration, LLC/Walker’s Cay-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “I started in sixth place due to some issues in qualifying. I worked my way up and had a great battle with Sam and then, unfortunately, the race ended under caution. But I think it was a great race and I was always improving. I can’t wait for the second race.”
Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “I had a pretty good race. I started P2 and ended up P3. Mac drove really well. He was quick all weekend. Nikita raced me cleanly and it was a good battle. It’s unfortunate the caution came out, but it was a really good race.”
Race Two Quoteboard:
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “This was another good run for us. We managed to take home the win. Tire conservation was kind of the name of the game. I am really looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what the weather brings to this beautiful race track.”
Alessandro De Tullio (#20 VRD/DTI Group Inc.-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a pretty exciting race. I just tried to keep the pressure on the whole race. I knew we had a good car from the beginning so it was about not making mistakes. It was a good race with Sam and everyone in the end and I am really happy with P2.”
Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “We had a really good race there fighting with Alessandro. I was just really trying to be consistent. Alessandro raced me clean so thank you to him for that. He sat in my mirrors the whole time and did what he was supposed to do and got around me there at the end. The car was really good, it is a fun track and a great event. Thank you to all the VRD boys.”
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