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USF Pro Championships set for Spring Training at NOLA

A new season of major open-wheel racing in North America is approaching fast. Two weeks from now, on March 8-10, the NTT IndyCar Series will take to the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for its opening race. And as usual there will be a full supporting cast which will comprise two of the three levels of the world-renowned USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire open-wheel development ladder.

Interest in the critical proving ground categories is running at an all-time record level. Accordingly, no fewer than 65 young drivers representing 11 nationalities will be on hand when USF Pro Championships hosts its traditional Spring Training two-day test for all three series on Monday and Tuesday, February 26-27, at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La. All have their eyes set firmly on grabbing a portion of the $1.68 million in scholarship prizes and awards which will be distributed at the late August season-ending banquet in Portland, Ore.

Veterans, rookies set for USF Pro 2000 test

A dozen USF Pro 2000 Presented by Continental Tire rookies will be joined by eight series veterans when testing commences next week on the 2.74-mile, 13-turn road course, just a few miles from downtown New Orleans.

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Entry List

After clinching last year’s USF2000 championship and a scholarship valued at over $433,000 to advance to the next level, Simon Sikes heads the rookie contingent with an eye to becoming the second driver in three years to secure successive titles in USF2000 and USF Pro 2000. Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen, who achieved the feat in 2020 and 2021, will line up on the NTT IndyCar Series grid this year with Ed Carpenter Racing. Sikes, from Augusta, Ga., remains with Pabst Racing, which also claimed last year’s USF Pro 2000 crown with Myles Rowe.

The rookie contingent also will include second and third-place finishers in the 2023 USF2000 title-chase – Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing), from Gulfport, Fla., and Australian Lochie Hughes (Turn 3 Motorsport) – as well as Canadian Mac Clark (DEForce Racing), who won the inaugural USF Juniors title in 2022.

With several of the top point-scorers last year moving up the ladder to INDY NXT including Rowe — who becomes the sixth consecutive USF Pro 2000 champion to advance — Arizonan Jace Denmark (Pabst Racing) is the highest placed returnee. He will be joined in the Pabst Racing stable by Christian Brooks, from Los Angeles, Calif., who won once despite making only four starts in 2023.

Braden Eves also is set to rejoin the fray with a point to prove. Eves, the 2019 USF2000 champion, placed second in the 2021 USF Pro 2000 season and now returns with the Exclusive Autosport team after a year’s hiatus.

USF2000 field wide open

A similar blend of drivers with differing levels of experience make up the entry list in USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire. Once again, many of the leading protagonists from 2023 have graduated to the next level, USF Pro 2000, leaving Ohioan Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), who placed fourth last year, and Sam Corry, who ended the year seventh in points, as the early favorites to chase after a champion’s scholarship valued at $458,400.

Entry List