The USF2000 campaign kicked off in fine form at Sebring International Raceway today with a huge, 36-car field keeping the action flowing throughout the contest.
Third generation driver Matthew Brabham, son of Geoff and Roseina, who recently turned 18 took the lead at the first corner and never looked back.
The race featured a pair of incidents, the second of which caused it to finish under full-course caution after only nine of the scheduled 12 laps were completed.
Brabham drove the No. 83 The GTE Group Van Diemen-Mazda and brought continued success for the St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports-Wayne Taylor Racing team that won last year's USF2000 crown with Petri Suvanto, who steps up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder by competing in the Star Mazda Championship.
The race began dramatically when 15-year-old Chicago native and polesitter Luigi Biangardi tangled with third row qualifier Trent Hindman in Turn One. Brabham, who qualified second had already moved into the lead, but the incident behind him resulted in an immediate full-course caution.
At the restart--with three laps in the books--Brabham again took off from the lead, chased by Australian-born Roman Lagudi (now living in Las Vegas) in the Belardi Auto Racing entry. He was followed by Canadian Thomas McGregor in third place, driving the Dairy Queen/Exclusive Management/Andretti Autosport car. Spencer Pigot, who was last year's series runner-up jumped from sixth to fourth place.
On the succeeding lap, Pigot caught and passed McGregor in the seventh turn to take third place.
With Brabham secure in the lead, Pigot began to chase down Lagudi for second, but was prevented from making his challenge but the second full-course caution that brought the race to a close.
With his win, Brabham starts on pole Friday for the second race of the weekend. "It is really fantastic to get my first win in the first race of the series," Matty Brabs (his nickname) said. "I can't explain the feeling. My plan was just to stay out front and my plan went through. It was a pretty easy race out in front except for the yellow flags bunching us up. It was a bit disappointing," he noted, "to finish under yellow but I'll take any win as it comes. I am just really pleased with how everything went and would like to thank the guys at Cape Motorsports."