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Jack Hawksworth wins Indy Lights race

ST. PETERSBURG — By winning his first Indy Lights race, Jack Hawksworth became part of some exclusive company.

He is the 11th driver to win his debut race in the series and the seventh to win in his debut in St. Petersburg. Hawksworth joins an impressive list that includes Marco Andretti, Raphael Matos, Junior Strous, J.K. Vernay, Josef Newgarden and Tristan Vautier.

To win Saturday, Hawksworth had to stay out of trouble. Carlos Munoz, the pole-sitter, and Gabby Chaves were battling for first when they made contact in Turn 1 of Lap 11. Hawksworth took advantage, making his way around the wreck to take control of the race.

"I'm so fortunate to be working with these guys and working with such a great team," he said. "They've helped me develop over the winter, and (Saturday) I nearly scooted off on the first corner, and they gave me a really, really good car."

USF2000: Scott Hargrove continued his strong start to the season by winning the first of this weekend's two races.

"It may have looked easy out there, but driving on the streets of St. Petersburg is not easy, especially with the walls out there. It was really close in qualifying, but I couldn't be happier with the result."

Hargrove won one of two races in a season-opening doubleheader last weekend in Sebring. He followed that by finishing first in one of two practice rounds Friday and grabbing pole position Saturday morning.

Just in time: Stefan Rzadzinski, of Edmonton, Alberta, planned on his mother, Magda, watching every practice round and qualifying session in the USF2000 series this weekend.

That did not happen.

Magda was delayed for a day after a storm dumped nearly 10 inches of snow Thursday in Edmonton resulting in a series of crashes on the highway that injured 100 people.

"My mom was trying as hard as she could to be here all weekend," Rzadzinski said. "It's the first time she's been able to see me race in almost two years. The connection to her flight was delayed and she had to stay overnight in Chicago. I'm glad she made it."

Magda made it in time to watch her son finish third Saturday. Last year, Rzadzinski competed in Star Mazda, finishing 16th in points. His top finish was sixth.

"(My mom) turned out to be my good luck charm because it's been way too long since I've been on a podium," Rzadzinski said.

Pro Mazda: Matthew Brabham did not have the greatest start Saturday.

In qualifying, he was eighth-fastest after the gearshift lever broke in his hand. Still, Brabham found a way to maneuver around traffic and win Round 3 of the championship series, completing 21 laps in 26 minutes, 58.560 seconds.

"It was a fantastic race, but a little hairy for me in the begging," Brabham said. "My main goal was to get through the first corner, the balance of the car was really good. It's such a good car."

World Challenge: Ryan Dalziel won the GT class and Jack Baldwin won the GTS class in Round 1 of racing, with Round 2 today.

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4169.

Jack Hawksworth wins Indy Lights race 03/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 10:54pm]
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