Closing the 2023 USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires season this past weekend at the Portland International Raceway, TJ Speed is now fully focused on their 2024 campaign. Ending their rookie year as a team in the talent-filled INDYCAR ladder program, TJ Speed added four more top-ten results in the Pacific Northwest, three courtesy of Italian Francesco Pizzi.
“While we had hoped to leave the last race of the season victorious, it was still a valiant effort by our program having never run these cars at this track, and with a pair of drivers that have never seen the facility before,” expressed TJ Speed’s Tim Neff. “Turn one is always a lottery here, and we were caught up in that on occasion, but in the end, we logged laps and gathered information that will be beneficial for the future.”
After qualifying in the 14th position, it was Pizzi who moved forward in all three races finishing sixth, tenth, and sixth once wheel-to-wheel action began. Lirim Zendeli qualified in the sixth position but fell to 11th in race one before rebounding to narrowly miss the podium in race two crossing the line fourth. Contact in race three ended his day early as he was classified in the 18th position. Unfortunately, Nicolas Monteiro, who stepped into the TJ Speed program to replace the departed Christian Weir for this weekend, had a major crash in race one and was unable to compete for the remainder of the race weekend.
Neff continued, “It is straight into 2024 for us. Our goal is to win, and we will focus on our test program to make sure we can compete with the best teams and drivers in the series. It was a learning experience for us this season, but we managed to have success with wins, podiums, and pole positions. Next year we will be aiming for the title.”
Francesco Pizzi ended his season fifth in the championship point standings with teammate Lirim Zendeli one point behind in sixth. The duo also ended second and third in the Rookie of the Year Championship battle.
“We are actively looking for race-winning drivers that want to fight for a championship in 2024,” added Neff. “Our 2024 race-winning and championship-winning goals begin today. We are committed.”
Photo Credit: RTD Media