The Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio first race of the weekend for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, had a two word and two word-only story line:
The Uruguayan, who started from pole by nearly seven tenths of a second over the rest of the field, utterly controlled the 30-lap race en route to his third win of the season – all of which have come on permanent road courses.
The driver of the Soul Red No. 55 Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports also won at the second races at both Barber Motorsports Park and Road America. He also won at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championship.
From pole, Urrutia led but there was a change for second and third on the opening lap.
Andre Negrao, Urrutia’s teammate in the No. 17 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry, got around the No. 4 Carlin car driven by Felix Serralles at Turn 4. Then Dean Stoneman, in the No. 27 Stellrecht backed car for Andretti Autosport, followed him through, courtesy of being outside by Turn 5, and then the inside at Turn 6 before powering past.
By the end of the first lap, Urrutia’s lead was 1.6599 seconds clear of Negrao, with Stoneman ahead of Serralles and Zach Veach of Belardi Auto Racing – the latter of whom had gained two spots in the opening lap from seventh place on the grid.
Ed Jones was sixth ahead of Zachary Claman De Melo, Kyle Kaiser, Garett Grist, Shelby Blackstock, Dalton Kellett and Neil Alberico. Blackstock started sixth but fell to 10th on the opening lap.
Veach passed Serralles for fourth a lap later.
By Lap 5 Urrutia’s gap to Negrao was 2.6599 seconds. By Lap 10, it was 4.0941 seconds.
There weren’t many other changes by the halfway point, only Serralles having got back around Veach on Lap 8 at Turn 4.
The lead was stretched to 5.8639 on Lap 20. There was an intense battle occurring between De Melo and Blackstock for seventh, but De Melo held off Blackstock for the position.
Urrutia got the lead to north of 8 seconds before it fell back to 6.4947 seconds at the finish, ahead of Negrao and Stoneman, with Serralles fourth and Veach fifth.
With Jones sixth, this unofficially brings Jones’ lead from 24 points in the championship down to six points. Jones has 283 to Urrutia’s 277, with Stoneman at 259 and Serralles at 255.
For all intents and purposes, the title hopes of Kaiser (245) and Veach (238) appear to be dashed with this result, barring a remarkable string of results that will bring the top two back to the field.
Urruita said afterwards “our strategy is to win” following a dominant performance at a track that suits him well, similar to European tracks.
Negrao fought off the Serralles attack on the opening lap, then emerged clear of the rest of the field behind his teammate. This is his third podium of the season (Road America race two, Toronto race two).
Stoneman got a really good start and then thanked Serralles for the clean battle through Turns 4 through 8.
Results are below:
|7||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||30|
The second Indy Lights race of the weekend slots in the 12:20 to 1:25 p.m. ET slot on Sunday, the featured race of the weekend.