MRTI: RJB Motorsports names Michai Stephens as second driver in USF2000

Photo: RJB Motorsports

Following the team announcement and initial confirmation of Clint McMahan as one of its drivers, RJB Motorsports has confirmed its second driver for the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season in rising American talent Michai Stephens.

The announcement was confirmed today at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.

RJB dipped its toes into the water in 2015 and also enjoyed a solid test at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas in late November.

This signing joins others such as Garth Rickards (Pabst Racing) and Team Pelfrey’s first two drivers (Robert Megennis and Jordan Cane) confirmed for the 2016 USF2000 season.

RJB’s full release is below:

In a press conference today at the PRI Show, RJB Motorsports and Metalloid Corporation announced that talented up-and-coming American Michai Stephens will join SCCA champion Clint McMahan as the Sturgis, Mich-based team steps up full-time into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2016.

Stephens, 23, from Evanston, Ill., gained his introduction to the sport as a 4-year-old when he spied an Indy car on display during a family visit to the Chicago Auto Show. Hailing from a background with no ties to the racing industry, nor the means to pursue his new-found passion, Stephens finally found an opportunity 16 years later, in 2012, when he discovered information about the Skip Barber Racing School’s INDYCAR Academy – aimed specifically at drivers without any previous background in car racing or even karting.

Stephens’ progress since then has been impressive. After winning an academy scholarship, he took part in his very first race – in the Skip Barber Summer Series – in May 2014. His first win came in just his second race weekend, leading to an invitation to a shootout for the Team USA Scholarship. Stephens again made the most of his opportunity and went on to finish an astonishing third at the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford race at Silverstone in England – from a field of almost 120 drivers from around the world.

He has spent this year building his network of connections and continuing to work toward his dream. Stephens raced only sporadically in 2015 but secured another Team USA Scholarship which he again used to excellent effect, claiming podium finishes both at Brands Hatch and Silverstone.

“We are excited about having Michai Stephens drive our second car in USF2000, the first step on the Mazda Road to Indy, for 2016,” said Fred Edwards, CEO of Metalloid Corporation. “Michai is the type of individual we want to help grow within the racing community. Based on his short racing career so far, he has clearly been blessed with natural talent and a burning desire to become a champion. We feel Michai will be a great ambassador in and out of the car for RJB Motorsports and Metalloid Corporation.”

“An incredible and priceless opportunity has magically fallen into place,” said Stephens. “Thanks to Metalloid and RJB Motorsports, we will join forces and encourage one another to the best results possible. To have been selected for a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity like this by Fred and RJB only fuels the fire that burns bright inside. I am beyond grateful to have this fairytale come to life and will do my very best to repay the faith that has been shown in me. I can hardly wait to get started.”

The team is making plans for McMahan and Stephens to conduct an extensive test program prior to the season-opening event in St. Petersburg, Fla., in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series, on March 12-13.

Motocross: Chase Sexton to miss Hangtown after midweek practice crash

Sexton Hangtown practice crash
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Chase Sexton announced on Instagram he will sit out this weekend’s Pro Motocross race at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California after a practice crash on Tuesday left him with a concussion.

Sexton’s crash on Tuesday happened during a test session at Fox Raceway.

“Bummed to make this post but I’ll be sitting out this weekend,” Sexton said. “As you guys saw I had a big one during qualifying at Pala, then another one on Tuesday this week that banged me up pretty good. Nothing broken just need a few days to get back to 100%.”

Despite his crash in the first qualification session in Pala, California, Sexton mounted up for both motos and finished second in each race behind his teammate Jett Lawrence, who was making his Motocross debut and won with a pair of first-place finishes. Sexton padded his SuperMotocross points’ lead over the injured Eli Tomac, who is still second in the combined Supercross and Motocross standings despite missing the SX finale at Salt Lake City and the outdoor opener with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Sexton has an advantage of 78 points over Cooper Webb and cannot give up his SMX lead by missing this round.

At stake, however, is the risk of losing ground to Lawrence in the Pro Motocross championship. Sexton currently trails his teammate by six points and is liable to lose significant ground this weekend.

In addition to his concussion, Sexton has also been diagnosed with mononucleosis and the combination of the two conditions caused the team to make the difficult decision to keep him out of the lineup at Hangtown.

“I’m super-bummed to miss this weekend’s race,” Sexton said in a press release. “I feel like I rode well at Pala, and I was really looking forward to Hangtown because it’s a good track for me. Unfortunately, I was already pretty banged up from my qualifying crash on Saturday, and now with mono and Tuesday’s concussion on top of it, I want to do the right thing and hopefully be back on the track soon.”

A return date for Sexton has not yet been announced.

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