St. Petersburg, Fla. – It’s been 179 days since the last Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda race, but after a long off-season full of building and testing the new Tatuus USF-17 car, the series has reconvened in St. Pete this weekend for the first two rounds of the 2017 season.
A total of 22 cars will be competing on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit, with 15 of those cars being piloted by rookie drivers. One of those rookies is Kris Wright, who will be driving the No. 34 John Cummiskey Racing machine with sponsorship from MasterTech, PPG and Wright Automotive. The 22-year-old Wright, who hails from Wexford, Penn., has been JCR’s test driver for winter testing, but this weekend will represent his first-ever competition in a single-seater, open-wheel car.
Wright has logged well over 1,800 miles in the USF-17, so he is more than comfortable with the car, but also understands that there will be a learning curve learning each new circuit and racing the car instead of just testing.
“I really like driving the USF-17, but once we get on track in St. Pete I know it will be a much different feel than I’ve ever had before,” Wright said, “but testing has gone well and I think we have made a lot of great strides in learning the car. I think we have the chance to be quick, but more than anything I’m just excited to finally be able to get out and race.”
The USF-17 has been met with positive reviews so far, and if last week’s Spring Training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway is any indication, it will make for a lot of close racing. In several of the sessions at Homestead, the first 10-12 cars were separated by less than a second per lap, leaving many predicting this season will be, well, unpredictable.
“With the new car and with so many first-year drivers, it will be interesting to see how the season progresses,” JCR owner John Cummiskey said. “Kris has done a good job for us in testing, but there is certainly going to be a bit of a development period for him when it comes to running in an open wheel car.
“We’ve seen progress from him as testing as gone on, so that should carry into the season as well.”
JCR will also be supporting Kaminsky Racing and driver Colin Kaminsky in the No. 27 SlickLocks entry this weekend. Kaminsky, who raced in SCCA competition in 2016, will be making his USF2000 debut. He is the son of Bob Kaminsky, who has run 11 races in the Pro Mazda series over the last two seasons.