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Taylor slips and slides to sopping USF2000 win at Mid-Ohio

Max Taylor kept a clear head while many of his rivals were losing theirs amid treacherous conditions Friday afternoon, sweeping home to a well-deserved victory for VRD Racing in the opening leg of the Tatuus Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio tripleheader. Taylor, 16, from Hoboken, N.J., moved up to third in the USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire points standings with his third win of the season.

Championship leader Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., overcame a spin under yellow-flag conditions to finish second for Pabst Racing, while 2023 USF Juniors champion Nicolas Giaffone, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, secured third for DEForce Racing.

Jay Howard Driver Development’s Evagoras Papasavvas, from Loveland, Ohio, set what he hoped would be the tone for his weekend early Friday morning by turning the fastest time during practice, then continued his form into qualifying to secure his first Continental Tire Pole Award of the season. Both of those sessions had been held under clear, sunny skies, although by the time race time rolled around the weather – and track – conditions had changed dramatically due to persistent mid-afternoon rain showers.

Stereotypical Ohio summer struck once again at Mid-Ohio just in time for the race start. Gavin Baker Photography

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The 2.258-mile road course remained wet as Papasavvas led the field toward the green flag, all 18 cars now fitted with grooved Continental tires, but it didn’t take long before a pair of separate incidents brought out the waved double yellow flags for the first time.

Unfortunately, the majority of the 40-minute race was spent with the field circulating behind the Honda Civic Type-R pace car, but even before the first lap had been completed, Taylor had moved into the lead despite lining up in seventh on the starting grid.

Taylor maintained his advantage during the numerous additional full-course cautions, and cemented his authority by claiming an additional championship point after posting the fastest lap of the race following a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.

Garcia, who fell as far as 10th during the middle stages, charged his way back up to second immediately prior to the final full-course caution to extend his championship lead to 42 points over Pabst Racing teammate Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., who finished fourth behind Giaffone.

“I was able to lead the entire race and control the pack during the restarts and just had amazing pace with the VRD car,” Taylor said. “Thanks so much to everyone involved. It was an amazing race.”

Hudson Schwartz, from Arlington, Va., earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after steering clear of the carnage and rising from 15th on the grid to fifth.

Dan Mitchell of VRD Racing scoped another PFC Award as the winning team owner.

The USF2000 contenders will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. EDT for their second race of the tripleheader weekend which will conclude with a third and final race at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday.

RESULTS

Story originally appeared on Racer