Johnson snatches fourth USF Pro 2000 win in a row at Indy GP

Nikita Johnson and VRD Racing are on a roll. The 15-year-old rising star from Gulfport, Fla. scored his fourth victory in a row Friday when he once again showed a clean rear wing to his USF Pro 2000 Presented by Continental Tire rivals and comfortably won the first of three races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course which will comprise the VP Racing Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Ditto his VRD Racing team, which also won the USF2000 race earlier in the afternoon.

New Zealand rookie Liam Sceats finished a distant second for TJ Speed Motorsports, earning his best finish of the young season, while fellow Antipodean Lochie Hughes, from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, bounced back to form with a strong run to third for Turn 3 Motorsport.


Johnson served notice of his intentions this morning as he set the fastest time in qualifying to secure his second Continental Tire Pole Award of the season. Sceats lined up alongside with Exclusive Autosport’s Braden Eves, who now resides in Indianapolis, and DEForce Racing’s Mac Clark of Milton, Ont., Canada rounding out the second row.

The start saw a reshuffle of positions with Eves suffering the worst of the affair after going into the cut off in Turn 1 to avoid contact and rejoining in 10th position. Johnson briefly lost the lead to Sceats but regained the point in time for lap two, which saw contact between Clark and Hunter Yeany (TJ Speed Motorsports). Clark’s damage ended his day while Yeany, of Virginia Beach, Va., was shuffled back down the order after starting sixth.

Over the course of the next few laps, several cars made off-course excursions but it wasn’t until lap five when the first caution flag flew as Frankie Mossman (Jay Howard Driver Development) ground to a halt in Turn 6. By this stage, everyone in the top five in points was having issues with the exception of Johnson.

Eves’ day continued to worsen as contact in Turn 7 on lap eight brought out a second caution and ended his day. Jace Denmark of Pabst Racing, who was running seventh, was penalized for the avoidable contact and sent to the back of the field.

The race resumed on lap 11 and all eyes were on the ensuing battles mid-pack, including a sensational drive by Simon Sikes of Pabst Racing, who started last after an incident in qualifying and had worked his way up into the mix in seventh – earning the Tilton Hard Charger Award along the way with a gain of 14 positions.

The remaining laps were caution free with Johnson romping to a lead of over four seconds when the checkered flags flew. Ricardo Escotto – a winner last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – finished a fine fourth for BN Racing to claim his best result of the season to date with Yeany rounding out the top five.

“The race was really good,” Johnson said. “We started P1 but unfortunately lost the lead at the start when we went three wide. I was able to get back around Liam and just focus on getting clean laps. There were a couple of restarts and I just kept it out front and kept them behind me and drove my VRD car to the end. … A great day overall and I can’t thank the VRD boys enough. Also, thanks to my dad for being here and my mom and brother watching back home and all of my sponsors. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

The PFC Award once again was claimed by Dan Mitchell as the winning team owner.

Two more 25-lap races will take place Saturday on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit with green flags slated for 7:55 a.m. and noon ET.


Story originally appeared on Racer