ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Scott Hargrove enjoyed a perfect day during round three of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda on the challenging 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg.
The 18-year-old qualified on pole position, made an exemplary start and controlled the remainder of the 21-lap, 30-minute race.
Fellow front row qualifier and teammate Neil Alberico, who had won race two at Sebring last week, once again hit misfortune in the opening race of the weekend – just as he did one week ago when he encountered a mechanical problem on the very first lap. This time he was involved with an incident at the first corner with teammate Jeroen Slaghekke and was eliminated immediately.
Several other cars were involved in various incidents on the opening lap which brought out the Pace Car while the debris could be cleared away. Hargrove took off in confident style at the restart on Lap 3, edging clear with every lap to take the win a full 3.3 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger.
Wyatt Gooden (Afterburner Autosport) moved from third to second on the opening lap and held off a determined race-long challenge from Stefan Rzadzinski (JDC MotorSports).
Brandon Newey in a second Afterburner Autosport/BHA with Curb/Agajanian entry, held a fine fourth in the early stages but slipped back to seventh by the finish.
Former karting star Jesse Lazare passed Newey on Lap 16 to secure fourth place for the Pabst Racing Services team ahead of fellow 15-year-old Florian Latorre (JAY Motorsports).
Scott Rettich finished 15th and was the highest finishing driver in the National Class.