Taylor scores first USF2000 victory at Indianapolis

The Continental Tire Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader for USF2000 began in dramatic fashion this afternoon with Max Taylor taking an accomplished victory for VRD Racing. Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J., took the lead in Turn 1 immediately following an early full-course caution and a restart, then quickly established his authority to claim an overdue maiden victory.

Exclusive Autosport’s Joey Brienza overcame a poor qualifying position to finish second ahead of teammate Evan Cooley, who made an impressive USF2000 debut by qualifying on pole position.

Cooley’s primary commitment in his first full season of car racing is to USF Juniors Presented by Continental Tire in which he has recorded one top-five finish from the opening five races. But with an eye to the future, he entered this weekend’s USF2000 event and immediately made an impression by posting the fastest time in qualifying earlier this morning to secure the Continental Tire Pole Award.


Cooley led the first three laps under caution following a midfield accident even before the green flag, and while his initial restart was good, he was unable to prevent the more experienced Taylor, who started third, from taking the lead in Turn 1 with a bold move around the outside under braking.

Behind, Brienza made extraordinary progress at the first corner after lining up a disappointing seventh on the grid due to his best lap in qualifying being thwarted by a red flag. Brienza followed Taylor on the outside line, braking deeper into the right-handed Turn 1 than the majority of his rivals and sweeping past outside front row starter — and Exclusive Autosport teammate — Thomas Schrage to vault all the way to third.

Taylor duly completed the first proper lap of racing with a handy lead, only it was Brienza who followed in second after Cooley found himself shuffled down to sixth position behind Schrage, Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development) and VRD Racing’s Nico Christodoulou.

Farther back in the pack, a mistake by rookie Michael Costello (Jay Howard Driver Development) under braking at Turn 7 sent championship leader Max Garcia (Pabst Racing) spinning and delayed several other contenders in the midfield.

A variety of other minor incidents during the 15-lap race resulted in some major shuffling of the pack, but the race remained green and there was no stopping Taylor, who followed up a strong weekend last month at NOLA Motorsports Park, where he earned a podium finish, by speeding home to a well-deserved win.

“My plan was to get into the lead as fast as I could and I did just that. I got to the lead and had a little battle with Evan and just checked out and put some good laps in,” said Taylor. “The VRD car just drove itself really. I put cruise control on and just left. It is an amazing feeling to do this here. I couldn’t have dreamed it any different. I want to thank everyone at VRD for putting together a rocket ship of a car and a great program together, all of my sponsors and my parents for coming out here and my sister as well.”

Taylor also secured another PFC Award for team owner Dan Mitchell, whose VRD organization has now won five of the last seven USF2000 races on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road circuit.

Brienza was similarly untroubled in second place, finishing well clear of Cooley, who picked off, firstly, 2023 Indy race winner Sam Corry (VRD Racing) and then Papasavvas.

Garcia mounted an incredible comeback following his early spin to climb from 19th to sixth at the finish, three places ahead of where he started, although the Tilton Hard Charger Award went to DEForce Racing’s Brady Golan, from Austin, Texas, who steered clear of the midfield carnage and rose from 19th on the grid to eighth.

The second leg of the Continental Tire Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader will see the green flag tomorrow morning at 8:55 am ET.


Story originally appeared on Racer