Hunter McElrea

The field for the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship is starting to take shape.

Several teams have announced drivers for the upcoming season including eight-time defending champion Cape Motorsports, who signed Braden Eves for the upcoming season.

Braden Eves, a 19-year-old from New Albany, Ohio will join the multi-time series champions, having gained additional experience in F4, F1600 and USF2000 last season.

The former karting champion has won at some of the biggest karting events in the United States, including the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour. Eves enters his first full season of USF2000 competition with wins in F4 and F1600 on his resume as well.

“Cape Motorsports is really a great team, and their history of winning championships speaks for itself,” Eves said. “Coming off a difficult 2018 season, it’s extremely refreshing to have such confidence in the people around me. I’ve been working hard at home to put all of this together, as well as getting my fitness back to 100 percent after my surgeries a few months ago. Pre-season testing starts next week, and I can’t wait to get back into the car. I’m excited to work with Cape Motorsports and learn from their experience! Special thanks to Team USA Scholarship for giving me the opportunity to compete for the MRTI 200k scholarship a few months ago. This season can’t come soon enough.”

McElrea picks Pabst Racing

The winner of the Road to Indy $200,000 Shootout has also chosen his team for 2019. Nineteen-year-old Hunter McElrea (pictured above) has joined Pabst Racing, who will field the Mazda-sponsored Tatuus USF-17.

“I am ecstatic to be on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship grid this year in the Soul Red Crystal No. 22 Pabst Racing car,” said McElrea, the Australian Formula Ford champion. “Without the amazing support from Mazda Motorsports and my personal sponsors, Doric NZ and Miles Advisory Partners, I would not be here, so I cannot thank them enough for giving me this amazing opportunity.” 

The team is equally thrilled to welcome McElrea. 

“This announcement has been in the making for quite some time and we couldn’t be more excited to have a talent such as Hunter as part of our team,” said team owner Augie Pabst. “Mazda Motorsports has been a huge part of open-wheel racing for many years and we couldn’t be more honored to put this effort on the racetrack for 2019.” 

Howard team lands Round-Garrido

Another driver joining the field include British standout Matthew Round-Garrido who has signed for Jay Howard's Driver Development.

Round-Garrido won the Northern Irish Formula Ford 1600 championship and finished third in the British Formula Ford Championship to earn a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout.

"I'm really excited that I'll be racing in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship with JHDD this season,” Round-Garrido said. “It's been a target of mine to race abroad for a number of years now and with the Road to Indy scholarship system they've got here, there's no better place to be racing than America right now.”

Newman Wachs to field Shields, Siegel

Newman Wachs Racing has added a pair of talented racers for the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.

Cameron Shields, a native of Toowoomba, Australia and 14-year-old American Nolan Siegel will contest the full season for the Illinois-based team.

“I’m very excited to have Cameron signed with the team for the 2019 season,” said Brian Halahan, NWR Team Manager. “I think his racing history speaks for itself and I expect to be fighting for wins right out of the box. The combination of his experience and our engineer John Hayes’ knowledge should be a powerful combination. St. Petersburg cannot come soon enough.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Nolan this year,”  Halahan added. “I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people throughout the season. He’s been working with Tom Dyer, our driver coach, over the winter months and has also completed a few days of testing, so he should be ready to go at the season opener in St. Pete.”

Shields, who counts Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power and his father Bob as mentors, has built an impressive resume that includes an impressive 52 wins out of 154 races entered, running in Australian Formula 3, Formula 4 and Formula Ford.

“Newman Wachs Racing is a very professional team, with a long history of results to back that up and I am full of confidence that together this season we can continue that trend of success with the ultimate goal of becoming the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 champions,” Shields said.

Siegel got his start racing karts in Northern California at the renowned Simraceway Performance Karting Center, which is located at Sonoma Raceway.  In 2013, as a car lover at the age of eight, he sampled a kart at the Sonoma facility and hasn’t stopped since.

The next year, Nolan continued karting at the local club level before stepping it up in 2015 and 2016, competing in the California Rotax Max Challenge and then the ROK Sonoma Series. Siegel won the ROK Junior championship in the ROK Sonoma Series in 2017, and he also competed against some of the best karters at the Superkarts! USA California ProKart Challenge.

The 2018 season brought many new experiences for the young pilot, as he continued his develop his racecraft at the SKUSA ProKart Challenge, running in both the X30 Junior and S5 Junior Stock Honda shifter. He also made his car debut in the Sonoma Raceway Formula 3 Series, where he was crowned the 2018 champion.

“I am very excited to step up to a new level of competition,” Siegel said. “Especially with such a well-known and established team like Newman Wachs Racing. It is going to be a big challenge, but I am ready and itching to get out on track in St. Pete."