Jeffers takes hometown USF Juniors win at COTA

Jack Jeffers claimed his second consecutive win in USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires competition with a thrilling battle in the first of the Cooper Tires Circuit of The Americas Grand Prix tripleheader. Jeffers, 17, from nearby San Antonio, entered the weekend tied for second in the championship standings for Exclusive Autosport and now holds a 23-point advantage over third with just two races remaining.

Had Jeffers finished second in Saturday’s 12-lap race around the 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course, DEForce Racing’s Nicolas Giaffone, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, would have accumulated enough points to land the championship title Saturday. Instead, with his third-place finish, Giaffone will head into the second round Sunday with a 64-point advantage and 66 total points possible on the table.

He will need merely to start the first of two races Sunday to clinch the Discount Tire Driver Development Scholarship valued at $241,890 to advance to USF2000 in 2024.


Max Taylor, of Greenwich, Conn., drove a fine race to finish second, notching his second consecutive podium for VRD Racing after a maiden win in the last round at Road America.

Jeffers led the field to the green flag after securing his second Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season with Taylor alongside and DEForce Racing teammates Quinn Armstrong, from Newcastle, NSW, Australia, and Giaffone sharing the second row.

The opening lap started clean but had championship implications as contact occurred between Armstrong and VRD Racing’s Jimmie Lockhart, from Boca Raton, Fla., who started fifth, sent Armstrong into the pits with a cut tire. Armstrong, who entered the weekend tied on points with Jeffers, fell to the back of the field and eventually finished 14th – dropping to third in the point standings.

Jeffers lost the lead to Taylor on the second lap, with Taylor eventually building up a gap of 1.018s. But Jeffers continued to whittle away at the margin and was able to retake the lead on lap 10 which he maintained to the end.

“It feels amazing to win at home,” Jeffers said afterward. “I’ve grown up watching F1 races on this track and watching a bunch of different races, and being able to drive on it is amazing, and better yet, to win on it. It feels special.

“The pass for the win was calculated, and I was planning it ahead of time. I had my crew chief Michael [Duncalfe] on the radio, and Lou [d’Agostino] and Conner [Clubine] telling me how to set it up and I have to thank them for keeping the car good through the entire race. The setup was perfect from start to end. I set the pass up as planned – I knew Turn 1 is a big passing opportunity and it’s a wide track and I knew I could send it in there and I knew he would see me and leave me room. So I sent it down the inside and was able to make the move stick and we were side-by-side through the Esses, but I came out ahead. I truly want to thank Exclusive Autosport, Corpay, and my parents for giving me this opportunity.”

Giaffone had dropped to sixth in the opening tours but was able to regain track positions while also posting the fastest lap of the race.

Filipina Bianca Bustamante, who made a return with Exclusive Autosport prior to the F1 Academy event at COTA in October, took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award after a gain of five positions to finish 10th.

Exclusive Autosport’s Michael Duncalfe earned the PFC Award as the winning car owner.

Two races remain on the docket Sunday at 11 a.m. and 3:55 p.m. CDT.


Story originally appeared on Racer