After 11 of 16 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire events, Team Pelfrey’s Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz are in the exact same position they were in before the 2016 season began. Tied in points and with an equal chance to win the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship and a seat in Indy Lights.
After splitting the top step of the podium during the championship’s first two races at the opening event at St. Petersburg, the story of the Team Pelfrey duo of O’Ward and Telitz, is one of back-and-forth momentum.
O’Ward, a Monterrey, Mexico native had the early momentum, winning five straight races starting at Barber Motorsports Park, continuing through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and ending on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval. The 17 year-old left Indianapolis, Indiana and the “Month of May” with what looked like an unsurmountable 55 point lead.
Since traveling home to his home state race at Road America, Telitz, a native of Rice Lake, Wisconsin has won four straight races, scoring 132 of a possible 133 points available. Combine that dominacnce with only one podium from O’Ward during the same period, the championship leaves Canada tied at 295.
For the fourth race in a row, Team Pelfrey rookie Telitz started on pole and was able to get a jump on the rest of the field.
Behind Telitz, the field spread out three-wide with front row starter and championship leader O’Ward falling into the clutches of Nico Jamin, Jake Parsons, and Will Owen, falling all the way back to fifth.
After the race, O’Ward explained that after crashing on the opening lap yesterday, he knew he couldn’t push too hard to keep his foot in it because another DNF would be devastating to his championship hopes.
At the end of Lap 1 the running order was: Telitz, Jamin, Parsons, Owen, Ward, Cevallos, Fisher, Dapero and Eberle.
O’Ward wasted no time beginning his march back towards the front of the field, getting Owen for fourth on Lap 2, making slight contact with Parsons while passing him on the inside of Turn 3 on the Lap 3 for a spot on the podium and getting by Jamin on the inside of Turn 1 after a four lap battle.
The dicing behind leader Telitz allowed him to pull out to a 6.2 second lead over O’Ward by Lap 10.
Further behind the lead group, Juncos Racing teammate Parsons and Owen were involved in an intense six lap tussle for fourth. Sophomore Owen was finally able to get by rookie Parsons in Turn 3.
After getting by Jamin, O’Ward was able to eat into the lead that Telitz had built up, setting the quickest lap of the race on Lap 18.
Telitz explained that after O’Ward’s quick lap his engineer Tom Knapp came on the radio telling him that he wasn’t the quickest anymore.
Understanding that every point counts, Telitz immediately responded with by recapturing the top lap honors on Lap 20. The lap at 1:11.040 stood as the quickest for the remaining 14 laps. It was the fifth time in 2016 and seventh time in his career that Telitz scored a bonus point for having the quickest race lap.
Telitz continued to turn quicker laps than O’Ward did for the remainder of the race and was able to pull out to a maximum 7.4 second lead and ended up winning by 4.0 seconds.
After early trouble dropped Team Pelfrey’s TJ Fischer to the rear of the field, the 22 year-old from Vacaville, California was able to recover to finish sixth, making a last lap pass of Jorge Cevallos in Turn 3.
The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series has next weekend off before a double header on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Race #2 Results:
|1||Aaron Telitz||34 laps|
|8||Bobby Eberle||-1 laps|
|9||Nicolas Dapero||-24 laps|