Giaffone Heads DEForce 1-2 in USF Juniors at Mid-Ohio
 July 7, 2023| 
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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Brazilian Nicolas Giaffone extended his already impressive advantage in the chase for the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires championship by heading another DEForce Racing one-two today in the first of two races that will comprise the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.

Giaffone led from start to finish in the 20-lap race to notch his sixth victory, heading home Australian teammate Quinn Armstrong for the third time this season in just nine races. Jack Jeffers, from San Antonio, Texas, finished third for Exclusive Autosport.

Third-generation racer Giaffone, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, continued his series dominance earlier this morning by posting the fastest lap in qualifying to clinch his fourth Cooper Tires Pole Award.

Ethan Ho, from Los Angeles, Calif., qualified a strong second for DC Autosport, matching his performance during last week’s USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires event at the same Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course venue, only to experience a sudden loss of power on the opening lap of the race which caused his car to stop at Turn Two.

Ethan Barker, from Houston, Texas, who started third, took up the chase of Giaffone before losing out to charging VRD Racing teammate Max Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J., up from sixth on the grid.

Unfortunately, Taylor fell to the back of the field when his car stuttered almost to a standstill just before the completion of Lap 8. He quickly recovered five positions following a brief mid-race caution period, only for the same problem to rear its head with just four laps remaining.

The caution instantly negated Giaffone’s lead, which had grown to almost four seconds, and at the restart Barker saw an opportunity to challenge for the lead under braking for Turn Two at the top of the hill. Giaffone staunchly defended his inside line, then braked a fraction too late which caused Barker to run wide into the gravel and slip all the way to the rear of the pack.

Giaffone narrowly maintained his lead, with teammate Armstrong slipping through into second place, while a major shuffling of positions saw Jeffers vault from sixth place to second ahead of Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing), from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After that initial challenge, Giaffone was able to reassert his authority and ultimately take the checkered flag almost two seconds clear of Armstrong. Jeffers couldn’t match the leaders’ pace but did manage to hold off a spirited challenge from Lockhart for third.

Hudson Schwartz (VRD Racing), from Arlington, Va., finished fifth ahead of Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport), from Golden, Colo., and Barker, who stormed back from 12th to seventh in the final five laps.

A little farther back, Carson Etter (DC Autosport), from Villa Park, Calif., took eighth after starting in 13th to earn himself the Tilton Hard Charger Award.

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

The doubleheader weekend in support of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will continue with a second qualifying session at 9:00 a.m. EDT tomorrow which will set the starting order for Race Two at 11:30 a.m.

Provisional championship points after 9 of 16 races:
1. Nicolas Giaffone, 263
2. Joey Brienza, 184
3. Quinn Armstrong, 174
4. Jack Jeffers, 169
5. Jimmie Lockhart, 150
6. Lucas Fecury, 137
7. Max Taylor, 128
8. Ethan Barker, 114
9. Erick Schotten, 114
10. Brady Golan, 113

Nicolas Giaffone (#19 OMNI-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “This isn’t a very easy track to be honest, especially when you are new here. It’s always changing. All the sessions, the track is going to feel different and you are going to be driving differently. I’m pretty happy with the results we have had. The race wasn’t at all easy. The two yellow flags really got things mixed up, but I think we fought it off with a lot of sportsmanship. I hope we can bring this effort and this performance again tomorrow. A huge shoutout to the DEForce team, my main sponsors and my parents – they support me so much.”

Quinn Armstrong (#16 NDA-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “It was a tough race. This track always demands a lot. I remember last year that nothing came easy, and it was much of the same story again this time. I dropped back to sixth I believe midway through the race and then I was just chipping away. DEForce provided a nice car for me to drive. We managed to chip away and get to the front and I ended up P2. I’m happy with the result, just looking to go one more tomorrow.”

Jack Jeffers (#92 Corpay Cross Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23): “Coming in it was kind of a send-it-in mindset. I knew I had to make up positions. It was really about just making smart moves and setting others up. I knew I could make them defend in the Keyhole and get the run down into Turn Four and make an easy pass. I got lucky on the restart. I was able to get by Hudson relatively easy. He raced with respect, and then Jimmie made a mistake and I was able to get by him. From there, it was eyes set forward. I realized I didn’t have the same pace as Jimmie and I just had to defend from him. Luckily, this track kind of makes it easy to defend and that played into my favor. We were able to come home third.”

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