LEXINGTON, Va. – Fourteen-year-old Sam Corry claimed an exciting maiden USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires victory today in the first of three races which will comprise this weekend’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. After finishing five of the previous seven races this season on the podium for his VRD Racing team, Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., fought his way past championship points leader Mac Clark (DEForce Racing), from Toronto, Ont., Canada, following a brief full-course caution and held off Clark by just 0.798 of a second to take the win.
Corry’s VRD Racing teammate Alessandro De Tullio, from Miami, Fla., finished third.
Clark continued his rich vein of form during a busy morning by posting the fastest lap in official practice and then securing his seventh Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying. Less than an hour later, Clark took full advantage by leading the 18-car field away from the rolling start, but he was unable to shake off the attentions of Corry, who remained hot on his tail.
The top four cars from qualifying maintained their positions through the early stages with De Tullio in third ahead of a third VRD Racing Ligier-Honda driven by Nikita Johnson, from Gulfport, Fla.
Jeremy Fairbairn (Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport), from Wellington, Fla., moved up a couple of positions on the opening lap to head Andre Castro (International Motorsport), from New York, N.Y., and Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), from Indianapolis, In., who impressively rose up six positions on the opening lap.
Cox made one more pass on the next lap, at the expense of Castro. The pair chased hard after Fairbairn until Castro was able to move back past on lap 12. Unfortunately, the race stewards later determined that the pass had been made after a full-course caution was called following a spin for Maxwell Jamieson (DEForce Racing), from Houston, Texas, at the back of the field.
Corry looked to have slightly the faster car during the middle portion of the race as he kept the pressure on Clark. At the restart, Clark defended the inside line into Turn Two, the Keyhole, but Corry was able to gain a better exit on to the long downhill back straightaway. The two leaders briefly made contact as they swept through the kink at Turn Three, but it was Corry who emerged in front before the braking area for Turn Four. Job done.
Clark tried hard to retaliate but also needed to be mindful of De Tullio, who was following closely in third place. The podium positions remained the same until the checkered flag, although De Tullio set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap as the three leaders were blanketed by less than a second.
Corry’s magnificent performance ensured a fourth consecutive PFC Award for VRD Racing team principal Dan Mitchell as the winning car owner following De Tullio’s sweep of the Virginia International Raceway weekend in early June.
Johnson finished fourth ahead of Castro, who was later penalized for his pass under yellow and moved behind Cox in the final results. Fifth was therefore taken by Castro’s new International Motorsport teammate Giorgio Carrara, from Las Brenas, Argentina, who recovered impressively on his USF Juniors debut after slipping from sixth to 10th on the opening lap. Fairbairn had to be content with sixth ahead of Cox and Castro.
Two more races, Rounds Nine and 10 of the championship, will be held tomorrow in advance of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series headline event.
Provisional championship points after 8 of 16 races:
1. Mac Clark, 216
2. Alessandro De Tullio, 175
3. Sam Corry, 173
4. Nikita Johnson, 151
5. Andre Castro, 132
6. Titus Sherlock, 110
7. Jeremy Fairbairn, 106
8. Ethan Ho, 94
9. Elliot Cox, 90
10. Jake Bonilla, 88
Sam Corry (#14 Red Line Oil/Fill-Rite/Stilo Helmets-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was a really good race. Mac and I battled really well and I was just trying to run him down in the beginning stages of the race. Once we moved towards the end after the safety car, I tried the outside in Turn Two and that didn’t work, but I got on the inside on the back straight and had a really good run in Turn Four and got it done there. I want to thank all of the VRD boys for just a great car.”
Mac Clark (#17 MIR Raceline USA/Sekanskin/Valkyrie AI-DEForce Racing Ligier JS): “It was a good race. I was happy to have the pole in qualifying. Sam fought me really hard all race long and he managed to get me at the end. He slipped by on the back straightaway and we had a little bit of contact. I am really looking forward to Race Two. We’ll be starting on pole and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of my supporters. Obviously, DEForce Racing for the mega-fast car, Valkyrie AI – because without them we wouldn’t be here – MIR Raceline, and all my friends and family back home.”
Alessandro De Tullio (#20 VRD/DTI Group Inc.-Velocity Racing Development Ligier JS): “It was not a really interesting race for me. I was just chasing the whole time. An amazing job by Sam and a big congrats. He deserves that one. He’s been on the podium almost every race, so he deserves this one. For my part, just a few mistakes on the restart that set me back and I had to chase back up but it was a bit too late. If there are any restarts tomorrow, I need to work on getting up to pace quicker and hopefully I will be there for the fight.”
Categories: Race Recap, Road to Indy
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