After a pair of test sessions held earlier Thursday on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, it was time for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series to hold their first official practice sessions to cap off track activity for the day ahead of the Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America weekend.
Victor Franzoni paced Pro Mazda’s only practice session before Saturday’s qualifying. The Brazilian, in his No. 23 Juncos Racing entry, set a best time of 1:24.340 in the 30-minute session. The overall best time of the day was Franzoni in the second test session, at 1:23.446.
The primary Juncos driver bested all three drivers from Team Pelfrey, with TJ Fischer, Carlos Cunha and Nikita Lastochkin all running in succession from second to fourth. It was a slight surprise to see St. Petersburg double race winner Anthony Martin only in fifth for Cape Motorsports.
Pelfrey has won the last three Pro Mazda races at this track, with Santiago Urrutia (Race 3, 2015) and Pato O’Ward (both races last year), while Juncos and Andretti Autosport also won in the abnormal Indianapolis triple-header of 2015 (NOLA race two was postponed until here due to weather).
It has been since 2014, when Scott Hargrove swept the weekend, when Cape last won in Pro Mazda here, and that’s an interesting wrinkle to note going into the rest of the race weekend.
The second Juncos driver in the field, Jeff Green, caused a red flag halfway through the session but returned to the pits. Green was eighth in the session, only 0.9458 of a second off the pace and behind the first two World Speed Motorsports cars of Phillippe Denes and Sting Ray Robb in sixth and seventh.
Qualifying is from 8:30 to 9 a.m. ET and local time tomorrow.
|7||14||Sting Ray Robb||1:25.162|
|14||44||Kevin Davis||No Time|
|15||83||Charles Finelli||No Time|
Kaylen Frederick took his No. 81 Team Pelfrey Tatuus USF-17 Mazda to the top of the charts in the opening 30-minute practice session in USF2000 at 1:25.298.
The 14-year-old out of Baltimore will look to break Oliver Askew’s recent stranglehold on the top of the USF2000 field, as Askew has won three straight races and leads Frederick and Rinus VeeKay by 34 points (122-88) heading into this weekend.
Frederick’s fast start has been an interesting story to kick off the USF2000 season, particularly compared to veteran teammates Ayla Agren and Robert Megennis. NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno has a longer form feature about Frederick’s start, which is linked here.
Askew, meanwhile, had the fastest time of the day with 1:24.703 set in the second test session held earlier in the day.
Behind the top two in this session, it was Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson in third, then Megennis fourth and Pabst Racing’s Calvin Ming in fifth.
Team BENIK driver Darren Keane did not set a time in this session, the only driver of 23 unable to do so.
This is the only USF2000 official practice. On Friday, qualifying one takes place from 7:55 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. ET and local time.
|16||12||Moises de la Vara||1:26.685|
|23||32||Darren Keane||No Time|
Here is the Friday Mazda Road to Indy schedule at the track.
7:55-8:15 a.m. USF2000 Q1
8:30-9 a.m. Pro Mazda Q1
10:15-11 a.m. Indy Lights P1
11:15-11:35 a.m. USF2000 Q2
11:50-12:10 a.m. Pro Mazda Q2
1:45-2:15 p.m. Indy Lights Q1
2:30-3:10 p.m. USF2000 Race 1
3:25-4:05 p.m. Pro Mazda Race 1
5:50-6:50 p.m. Indy Lights Race 1