By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
The wait is officially over as Pabst Racing announced that Hunter McElrea has signed on for the 2019 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
McElrea, 19, captured 13 victories in 21 starts en route to the 2018 Australian Formula Ford Championship, which punched his ticket for a spot at the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. In turn, he kept the momentum rolling to earn the Shootout Scholarship award for a shot at the USF2000 title for 2019.
“I am ecstatic to be on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship grid this year in the Soul Red Crystal No. 22 Pabst Racing car!” McElrea said. “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!”
Having already tested with Pabst Racing over the offseason, he is already seeing a distinct difference in racing forms.
“The main difference from the Formula Ford I was driving last year is having a slick tire and aerodynamics,” McElrea observed. “This obviously means a lot more overall grip which I really like. Living in the U.S. this year is also a new adventure which I am enjoying a lot.”
He added: “I am extremely happy to be joining a top Road to Indy team such as Pabst Racing,” he noted. “I am really looking forward to putting the massive effort from the team and myself from the off season to use, and I will do my very best.”
Patient through the process, team owner Augie Pabst was elated with having McElrea sign on for the upcoming campaign.
“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 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.”
For McElrea, he is already looking at some of his favorite circuits to take his No. 22 Tatuus USF-17.
“I am looking forward to all of the tracks,” McElrea said. “Obviously, tracks with history such as Indianapolis, Road America and Laguna Seca are going to be special, but also experiencing street courses and an oval for the first time will be a great experience. I can’t wait!”