Jeffers and Taylor Share USF Juniors Victory Spoils
 August 13, 2023| 
  • Series News
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Young Americans Jack Jeffers and Max Taylor each claimed a race win today during the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America, while Brazilian rookie Nicolas Giaffone took another big step toward the USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires championship crown with a pair of second-place finishes.

Exclusive Autosport’s Jeffers, from San Antonio, Texas, led Giaffone (DEForce Racing) to the checkered flag in the opening race this morning by 0.692 of a second. A little later in the day, Taylor (VRD Racing), from Hoboken, N.J., was adjudged to have been narrowly in front of Giaffone when the yellow flags waved following an incident at the infamous Kink and the race was concluded under caution.

Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing) from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Jeffers both scored a third -place finish.

Four different leaders during this morning’s 10-lap race around the fast and challenging 4.014-mile Road America circuit ensured an exciting start to the day. It began with Jay Howard Driver Development’s series debutant Ayden Ingratta, from Ruthven, Ont., Canada at the front of the field as a result of having posted the quickest of all drivers’ second-fastest laps during the lone qualifying session on Saturday. But the Cooper Tires Pole Award winner was quickly swallowed up in the snarling pack before his race was ended prematurely following contact with a rival and a spin at Canada Corner.

Early leader Taylor completed each of the first four laps in a different position – first, fourth, third and second – before his race also came to an early conclusion at Turn Three, triggering a brief full-course caution.

A restart with four laps remaining saw Jeffers slip from the lead to third place, although he was able to battle his way back to the front and hold off a late charge from championship leader Giaffone to secure his second win of the season.

Lockhart matched his career-best finish in third as Brazilian rookie Erick Schotten (Exclusive Autosport) posted by far his most impressive performance of the season by holding off Saturday winner Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing), from Newcastle, N.S.W., Australia, for fourth.

Schotten also earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after having started 11th.

The final race of the weekend saw Giaffone claiming his fifth Cooper Tires Pole Award by virtue of the fact his fastest lap in Race Two – on the final lap – was quicker than anyone else’s second-best lap set during Saturday qualifying.

A six-car battle for top honors later distilled into a two-horse race as Taylor and Giaffone edged clear of the pack. Taylor took the lead with a bold move to the inside of the championship leader at Turn 14 on Lap Nine, and even though the Brazilian drafted back past as the two leaders crested the hill as the yellow flags flew, Race Control quickly determined that Taylor had been in front at the moment the caution was called.

A titanic battle for third place went the way of Jeffers after the rapid Ingratta ran wide at Turn Five and then spun at the Kink as he attempted to make up the lost ground. DC Autosport’s Carson Etter, from Villa Park, Calif., also was involved in the incident which triggered the final caution period.

Lockhart eventually was credited with fourth. He also took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award after making up six positions.

The pair of PFC Awards for the winning car owners were shared by Exclusive Autosport’s Michael Duncalfe and VRD Racing’s Dan Mitchell.

Giaffone will head to the series finale, a tripleheader event at Circuit of The Americas, home of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix, near Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time on August 26/27, with a commanding 72-point lead over Armstrong and Jeffers, who are tied for second. At stake is a Discount Tire Driver Enhancement Scholarship valued at $241,890 to progress onto the next rung on the ladder, USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2024.

Provisional championship points after 13 of 16 races:
1. Nicolas Giaffone, 338
2. Quinn Armstrong, 266
3. Jack Jeffers, 266
4. Joey Brienza, 238
5. Jimmie Lockhart, 212
6. Max Taylor, 188
7. Ethan Barker, 175
8. Lucas Fecury, 173
9. Erick Schotten, 173
10. Brady Golan, 164

Jack Jeffers (#92 Corpay Cross Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23) – on the win: “The race went well. We were able to get to the lead really early but, as you know, Road America is big for keeping the battle close because of the huge draft. I fell back to third but fought my way back to first. There was a little bit of a kerfuffle on the restart with me and my team messing up a little bit, but we were able to claw back the gap to the DEForce cars and get by them and ultimately take a last lap move on Jimmie and the win.”

After Race Three: “As far as the weekend goes, it was a very good weekend. I think I was the only driver to finish on the podium all three times. We brought home a good points haul and there’s definitely a lot to play for at COTA. Thank you to Exclusive Autosport, my parents and Corpay Cross-Borders Solutions for all their support."

Max Taylor (#33 PINK ETF/Susan G Komen Foundation-VRD Racing Tatuus JR-23): “We started from third so I knew I just had to get a good start. Coming into the race, we had to do a full engine swap actually because we were caught up in an accident in Race Two. So mega props to the team for fixing it so quickly and getting me back out there. I wouldn’t be here without them and it is a great feeling. On the last few laps, I knew I had to make a move and I just timed it right with the yellow. I sent in into the last corner and got a good enough exit and held it up the straightaway and got the win.”

Nicolas Giaffone (#19 OMNI-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “We are race car drivers and the ultimate prize is the win. In the position we are now, points are more important. P2 is way better than crashing when trying to go for a win we don’t necessarily need in terms of the championship. It was a bizarre way to end the race under a Safety Car and white flag, so I have mixed up feelings right now but still very happy to again be on the podium.

“Despite the confusion in the first race, I think we were still very consistent and Road America being Road America, it doesn’t disappoint in terms of racing spectacle. It is so, so hard to get a clean advantage from P2 especially when you are in front. We have had our share of wins and not only wins make a championship, so I am happy with our position today. I hope we can be as competitive as we were here, and all the events before, at COTA.”

Jimmie Lockhart (#48 Yacht Next-VRD Racing Tatuus JR-23): “It was a great start. I was able to get up front early and was just running a smart race until then. Going into the final lap, I was really just trying to capitalize especially because there is a long back straight and just being able to get to the draft. It was not so smart of a last lap and I made a few mistakes in some corners and ended up third. We were still able to get some points out of it, but it wasn’t what we were looking for. We are still coming for that win. This is probably the best pace we have had all season.”
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