Pro Mazda Weekend Recap
Indianapolis, IN – Team Pelfrey’s Pro Mazda Championship team of Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz enjoyed another successful and record breaking weekend on the road course at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For Telitz, it was his second visit to the Speedway in his No. 82 Rice Lake Weighing Systems-Team Pelfrey Mazda, after finishing on the podium in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2015. O’Ward was looking to capitalize on his early season success to maintain his position at the top of the driver points standings.
After consistently finishing practice sessions at the top of the charts, the teammates were poised to make an impact on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course in qualifying.
During the 30-minute session, Pato O’Ward set a new track record with a lap time of 1 minute 22.88, clinching pole position and etching himself in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway record books. The Birchwood,Wisc. -native, Telitz, qualified in second position with a lap time of 1 minute 23.30, setting up an all Team Pelfrey front row.
In Race One, O’Ward got off to a clean start heading into the crucial turns 1-4 complex, gapping the field by almost a full second going into turn 7. Telitz battled for second place with Will Owen, before locking up the brakes in turn 7 and going off course, falling all the way back to 9th place. O’Ward held the lead and built over a six-second gap over Owen, leading every lap of the 40-minute race. Telitz managed to finish the race in 7th place. With the win, O’Ward became the youngest driver to win on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 17 years old and 7 days.
In Race Two, both drivers started in first and second again. O’Ward made another great start in his No. 80 Gap Guard-Team Pelfrey powered Mazda, with teammate Telitz in his rear-view mirror. The Pelfrey duo gapped the field by over 20 seconds on their way to the team’s fifth 1-2 finish of the 2016 season. With another dominant weekend in the books, O’Ward stretched his lead in the points championship by 39 points over second place, teammate Aaron Telitz.
The team’s next race will be the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway, May 27th. Pro Mazda qualifications begin at 4:30 p.m. EST, with the 90 lap race will beginning at 7:10 p.m. You can follow the action on ProMazdaChampionship.com, or on Team Pelfrey’s social media channels.
The early exposure to the high-speed circuit proved beneficial for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda field, setting new track records and showcasing the most competitive racing the series has seen in 2016. For Megennis, Cane and Fischer, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend was one to learn from.
In the Thursday morning qualifying session, Megennis piloted his No. 80 Palo Alto Networks-Team Pelfrey Mazda into the 14th spot on the grid while the 14-year-old Briton, Jordan Cane, qualified 12th which set them up to start on the inside of the 6h and 7th rows of the 26 car grid. For the 22-year-old Fischer, all of his recorded lap times from the 30-minute session were erased after not returning to the pits after the checkered flag was shown. Four other drivers suffered the same penalty, forcing them to start from the rear of the grid.
In Race One, the rookie trio focused forward and charged through the field on the opening laps. Fischer advanced six positions during the opening laps, eventually finishing in 9thafter passing a total of 16 cars in the 30-minute race. Meanwhile, Megennis and Cane took advantage of their inside grid positions, overtaking several cars going into the 90-degree right-hand first turn before battling with Dakota Dickerson, Ayla Agren, and Fischer throughout the race. Megennis, the 16-year-old New York, N.Y.-native managed to hold on for 8th place as tire wear became a factor on the greasy circuit, while Cane and his No. 81 #2bn1-Team Pelfrey Mazda managed to round out the top 10.
Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway recorded unseasonably low temperatures, hovering around 49 degrees with gusty winds out of the west for most of the afternoon. With track and tire temperatures playing a factor in the second race of the weekend, Fischer and his No. 82 Rathbun Associates-Team Pelfrey Mazda managed to overcome the conditions after starting 17th. The Vacaville, Calif.– native made up six positions before he even completed the first lap.
Megennis started 15th and managed to make up five positions through only seven laps of green flag racing and held on for a 10th place finish. As for the youngest competitor in the Cooper Tires USF2000 field, Jordan Cane made contact with Dakota Dickerson and Cameron Das in turn seven on the first lap. After repairing the damage on pit lane, Cane finished two laps down in 21st place. Despite only contesting the first green flag laps with 8 minutes remaining, Fischer gained two more positions on his way to his second straight top 10 finish, his fourth of the year, in 9th place.
The next race of the 2016 season will be the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway, May 27th. Qualifications begin at 4:00 p.m. EST, with the 75 lap race beginning at 6:10 p.m.
You can follow the action on Usf2000.com or Team Pelfrey’s social media channels
Friday practice was held in mixed conditions, with the morning session interrupted by heavy rain before the track dried for the afternoon session. Denes and Ming ended practice at the top of the time sheets, and this form followed through into Saturdayqualifying with Denes claiming pole position with a time of 2:00.923 and Ming securing the third position.
Race One saw a flurry of showers before the start and the teams and drivers having to make tough decisions about which tires to start on. Both Denes and Ming opted for the dry tire option and the opening laps saw both Team Pelfrey entries fall behind multiple competitors who had opted for wet tires. However, at half distance the track was drying and both Denes and Ming began to skillfully slice their way through the field. Having brilliantly survived the tricky conditions, Denes came through to score his first win in open wheel machinery by 10.273 seconds, with Ming bringing home his Myagle in the 4thposition.
Race Two greeted the drivers with cold and blustery conditions, and once again, Denes and Ming set about their tasks by breaking the draft and establishing their positions at the front of the field. However, a full course caution for oil was deployed therefore neutralizing the field. With 4 laps remaining, the race went back to green for a mad dash to the checkered flag. Ming conquered the madness to secure a hard fought victory by 0.241 seconds, and Denes came home with another podium in third having dropped as low as 5th.
The final race of the weekend was held in cold conditions once again and the Team Pelfrey duo hit the front. However, drama struck Ming at the bus stop as another driver made contact with his left rear entering the bus stop on lap 1, dropping him back to the 10thposition. It would ignite a remarkable comeback drive that saw Ming slice his way through the field to claim a stunning podium finish which at the conclusion of the opening lap looked an unlikely prospect. Denes, meanwhile, led from the front with Neil Verhagen tracking his every move. On the last lap, Verhagen drafted past Denes into the Bus Stop, only for Denes to dramatically grab back the initiative around the outside of turn 6. Denes claimed his second win of the weekend, leaving him at the top of the championship standings.
The team’s next race will be at Virginia International Raceway the weekend of June 4th and 5th. You can follow the action on Race Monitor or F1600ChampionshipSeries.com, or on Team Pelfrey’s social media channels.