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Taylor caps stellar weekend with second USF2000 win

What a weekend for Max Taylor. The 16-year-old from Hoboken, N.J., is gaining a huge amount of experience this season by pulling double duty in both USF Juniors and USF2000, and he displayed the benefits during this morning’s USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire finale to a busy Tatuus Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio by claiming his third win from five races.

Taylor’s second victory from the USF2000 tripleheader came at the expense of VRD Racing teammate Thomas Schrage, who still achieved his best-ever finish in second after starting from the pole position for the first time. Sam Corry rounded out the podium in third for Pabst Racing.

“I can’t believe the weekend we have had, and it is perfect to cap it off with a one-two for the team. We won five of seven races this weekend and the VRD car was on fire. I can’t thank them enough,” said Taylor. “I started sixth and I definitely had some wood to chop. I was able to get up into the lead pretty quickly and hold it. The safety car didn’t really play into my hand, but I was able to control the restarts really well. Thomas put up a really good fight. He has a lot of perseverance and he is a very talented driver. I want to thank the whole VRD team, my parents and everyone who helps out. I am just so thankful.”

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The starting order for the final race of the tripleheader weekend was determined according to the fastest laps by each driver during Saturday’s race, when every single one of the 18 starters took advantage of cooler temperatures and perfect track conditions to post times faster than during the lone qualifying session on Friday. After experiencing a series of misfortunes, Schrage finally was able to display his full potential by posting a series of laps faster than everyone else to claim his maiden Continental Tire Pole Award.

Schrage was joined on an all-Ohioan front row by yesterday’s winner Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development). Papasavvas saw an opportunity to build more momentum and move closer to points leader Max Garcia (Pabst Racing) in the championship battle on the opening lap as the two leaders battled side-by-side for several corners before Schrage was able to secure his position out front.

Not far behind, Jay Howard Driver Development’s Michael Costello and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development’s Elliot Cox tangled on the entry to Turn 9 while disputing fourth place to bring out the caution flags for the first time while Costello’s car was removed from the gravel trap.

Papasavvas resumed his efforts to pass Schrage on the restart, which also allowed Taylor to join in the party. Unfortunately, their attempt to go three-wide on the exit of Turn 6 was always unlikely to end well, and sure enough it was Papasavvas who came off worst, sliding onto the grass and not only losing a bunch of positions but also picking up a puncture. He eventually finished a lapped and disgruntled 14th.

Schrage found his car understeering rather more than he would like as a result of the incidental contact with Papasavvas, and a couple of laps later he decided that discretion was the better part of valor when title-contender teammate Taylor attempted a pass at Turn Four.

Once into the lead, Taylor controlled the remainder of the race to secure his fourth win of the season and the fifth PFC Award for VRD Racing’s Dan Mitchell as the winning car owner. The result vaulted him from fourth to second place in the standings with five races remaining.

Schrage compounded Mitchell’s pleasure with a fine drive to second, while a late pass by Corry on Floridian teammate Garcia netted third position and aided his own title aspirations.

Exclusive Autosport’s Joey Brienza and Nicolas Giaffone (DEForce Racing) also finished close to the heels of the Pabst pair, while DEForce Racing’s Maxwell Jamieson took home his third Tilton Hard Charger Award after rising from 17th on the grid to 11th.

The quest for the USF2000 title and a scholarship valued at $458,400 to progress to USF Pro 2000, the next level of USF Pro Championships in 2025, will continue in two weeks’ time on the streets of Toronto with a doubleheader event July 20-21.

RESULTS

Provisional championship points after 13 of 18 races:
1. Max Garcia, 304
2. Max Taylor, 262
3. Sam Corry, 259
4. Evagoras Papasavvas, 248
5. Joey Brienza, 204
6. Elliot Cox, 189
7. Nicolas Giaffone, 164
8. Hudson Schwartz, 164
9. Michael Costello, 146
10. Ayrton Houk, 144

Story originally appeared on Racer