What came as no surprise, the start of the Indy Lights race was declared to be wet by race officials.
Ed Jones, who started on pole for the sixth time this season, was able to tip-toe his way through the first three corners ahead of the 13 drivers behind him that were were side-by-side through Turn 5. Everybody made it cleanly through the first lap, but eventual winner Urrutia was the biggest loser when got shuffled back to sixth place from his outside front row starting spot.
The top 10 after the first lap were: Jones, Veach, Negrao, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Urrutia, Kyle Kaiser, Zachary Claman de Melo, and Juan Piedrahita.
Over the next five laps Jones was able to maintain a one second lead over Veach, until yesterday’s winner spun in Turn 5 while he was pushing to catch Jones. The eventual podium finisher fell back four spots to sixth.
At the very end of the same lap, the No. 28 Andretti Autosport machine of Dalton Kellett looped it into the gravel trap in Turn 14 and needed the help of the Holmatro Safety Team to get restarted. The Canadian driver finished the race in 12th, one lap behind the leaders.
The top five under yellow were: Jones, Stoneman, Negrao, Serralles, and Urrutia
On the Lap 7 restart, Jones was able to get through Turn 1 and Turn 3 ahead of now second place Stoneman, but the No. 27 Andretti Autosport was able to use the additional horsepower that push-to-pass generates in his turbo charged 2.0L Mazda engine to pull in front of the Carlin No. 11 before the end of the Moraine Sweep.
Jones was able to out brake Stoneman and get through Turn 5 first, but Stoneman used a textbook over-under to get along side of Jones, when the two drivers got together on the uphill run to Turn 6.
TSO was able to talk with both drivers after the race and not surprisingly they had differing opinions on what happened.
“It was quite clear what he (Jones) did,” explained Stoneman. “It’s very obvious the he physically drove me off the track.”
“I thought I made a really great move into Turn 5, using the boost around the outside,” added Stoneman. “Jones came back at me on the brakes, which I was expecting because I was more focused on the exit. And as you could see I got the cutback on him, and he literally drove me off the track.”
On the restart, Dean got around and past me going by, then in the braking zone I went down the inside. I locked up a little but was able to keep the position. After Turn 5, I went to defend and it was maybe a bit too much,” admitted Jones. “That’s not really a passing spot and when Dean drove off the track, I touched his wing. Once his wing was damaged he realized that it was over for him and he tried to run me off in Turn 6, and that’s what caused the pileup.
Serralles and Negrao were both innocent bystanders in the incident with Jones bouncing off of the No. 17 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian machine of Negrao and slowing down so much Serralles rear-ended his teammate.
In his IndyCar Radio interview Serralles blamed both Jones and Stoneman, and thought that Stoneman braked checked Jones in Turn 6.
From Negrao’s standpoint, the incident at Turn 6 was initiated by Ed Jones.
Serralles and Jones both made it back to pits where the Carlin crew went to work on both cars. The damage to the No. 4 of Serralles was too serious for the Puerto Rican driver to continue, finishing in last place. The No. 11 of Jones required timely repairs but he was able to get back out on track to end up finishing 13th.
Coming to the restart, Stoneman slowed down not knowing that he had suffered a cut tire during his contact with Jones.
Urrutia, who was reminded by his crew that he had push-to-pass left just as he was coming to the restart and he was able to get by the wounded Stoneman and Negrao before Turn 1.
Stoneman was forced to pit due to his flat tire and he told TSO that they were 50/50 on whether or not to move to slicks or stay on the wet weather tires. The No. 28 eventually rejoined the field a lap down with Cooper Tire slicks.
The call to go to slicks was the right one as Stoneman was able to un-lap himself, make up two spots and turn the quickest lap of the race, gaining him three extra championship points.
The remainder of the race ran green with the 10 drivers still on wet weather Cooper Tires doing their best to keep their car underneath them.
Over the second-half of the race, Urrutia was able to manage his tires and grow his gap up to 8.1 seconds. This marked the second win of the year for the Uruguayan and the fifth of his two season Mazda Road To Indy career.
The podium was the first in the United States for Negrao. The GP2 veteran has spent the majority of his career racing in Europe. Negrao told TSO that he thinks this will really help them build some momentum for the rest of the year.
Veach, who stood on an Mazda Road To Indy podium for the 24th time, was not pleased with how he drove in the wet, but was happy that he was the only Indy Lights driver on the podium in both races this weekend.
Most teams and drivers now head to Iowa Speedway for a test on Tuesday before a 100 mile race at the ⅞ mile high-banked oval on July 10, 2016.
The top five in points after the race are:
- Ed Jones –> 212
- Dean Stoneman —> 194
- Santiago Urrutia —> 190
- Kyle Kaiser —> 174
- Felix Serralles —> 169
Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 results
|Zachary Claman De Melo