ST. PETERSBURG — Jordan Lloyd admitted there was a lot of pressure on him during Saturday's season-opening USF2000 races.
Competing in the series for the second year, Lloyd needed to do more than just race well. He needed to win in hopes of attracting more corporate backers to compete for a full season.
Lloyd got off to the start he wanted, winning the opening race and finishing second in the other.
"It is very hard with me being from Australia to build support over here in America," Lloyd said. "Hopefully I can continue to put some results together and talk to the right people and get a bit more backing for the last half of the season."
Last season, Lloyd had an abbreviated debut in USF2000, competing in four races. That was all he could afford given his limited number of sponsors.
After that, Lloyd returned to Australia, where he won the inaugural CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship thanks to 12 victories and six podium finishes in 21 races.
"For me as a driver it helped me grow and experience a bit more of what these cars are like on the Road to Indy (the three IndyCar ladder series, of which USF2000 is the first step) and helped me carry the momentum into this round as well," Lloyd said of his Formula 4 experience.
His performance helped him earn a "Road to the World" scholarship, giving Lloyd the financial wherewithal to compete for half of the USF2000 series this year.
"I won the scholarship, which was a good hunk of money," he said. "But I need more to get through a full season. I know the exact total I need, I just don't want to say it. It's … a lot. Hopefully, I'll get some sponsors onboard to carry me through the season.
"There's huge pressure on myself and the guys on the team to be able to provide a good car and for me to perform the best I can to try to get my name out there and get as much publicity as I can."
Yufeng Luo won the second USF 2000 race.
Pro Mazda: Pato O'Ward, a second-year driver in the Pro Mazda series, took pole position in qualifying and used the start to his advantage by winning the season-opening race Saturday.
It has been quite a turnaround for O'Ward, who was not sure he would even compete in the series this year until agreeing to run a four-race schedule with Team Pelfrey two weeks ago. Teammate Aaron Telitz took second. Jake Eidson of St. Petersburg's Cape Motorsports was third in his series debut.
Local flavor: New Port Richey's RC Enerson was fifth in the Indy Lights race, his 11th top-five finish since making his debut in the series last year. Felix Serralles was the winner, followed by Scott Hargrove and Kyle Kaiser.
World Challenge: Michael Lewis won the GT class, and Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry took the GTA and GT Cup classes in the first round of racing. The second race for all three classes is today at 3:15 p.m.
Jack Roush Jr., the son of NASCAR team owner Jack Roush, won the second race of the GTS class to complete a weekend sweep in the series.