Zachary Claman De Melo became the sixth winner in eight Indy Lights races, when he was able to get by pole-sitter Colton Herta on the fifth lap of the race.
The victory is the third straight for the Trevor Carlin led, Delary Beach, Fl. based squad.
Points leader Kyle Kaiser was able to snag his sixth podium in the last seven races, and extend his point lead to 27 points over the Road America race one winner Matheus Leist.
Herta, a second generation driver, was able to hold on for the bottom step of the podium, ending a streak of four straight finishes in double digits.
The Mazda turbo-charged 2.0L engines powering the 14 Indy Lights entries fired for the final MRTI race of the KOHLER Grand Prix weekend at 8:50am and after one pace lap, the front row of Herta and Leist brought the field to the green flag.
Herta got a great jump on the field, leaving room for Kaiser, who started in third room to get around Leist in Turn 1. Urrutia, who started fifth was immediately on the charge and after going by Leist and Claman De Melo, was able to move to the second spot, passing Kaiser in Turn 5. Kaiser wasn’t going to give up that second spot so easily, making an aggressive move into Turn 6, and holding onto second.
The busy first lap also saw Shelby Blackstock go wide at Turn 5, and the silver and red No. 27 Andretti Autosport car of Nico Jamin come to a stop on track. The Frenchman who tested an IndyCar at Road America last week, was able to recycle the machine and bring it back to pit road, but was forced to retire. The championship contender told IndyCar Radio that he was having problems with the gearbox and said, “it’s a big bummer to lose the points, but we’ll try and fight back at Iowa.”
At the end of the first lap, the top 10 were Herta, who had a 1.8 second lead Kaiser, Urrutia, Claman De Melo, Leist, Alberico, Telitz, Kellet, Norman and Piedrahita.
On Lap 2, Claman De Melo was able to get by both Urrutia, and Kaiser and immediately began to put pressure on leader Herta.
De Melo told IndyCar Radio that he could see that Herta was burning up his tires, and coached himself to be patient. The 19 year-old finally pounced, going around the outside of Herta in Turn 1.
De Melo made a mistake in Turn 3 on Lap 6 and was forced to defend against Herta going down the Kettle Moraine to Turn 5. De Melo was warned for blocking by Race Control, but didn’t make any more mistakes and was able to pull away for a 10.5 second victory.
Just before the half way point Kaiser was able to get around Herta, who was immediately under pressure from Leist.
At the half-way point of the race Claman DeMelo, who had just run his quickest lap of the race had seen his lead grow to 4.6 seconds, while a further 10 seconds behind the leader, Belardi Auto Racing teammates Urrutia, and Telitz were battling for fifth place. The 2016 Pro Mazda champion was able to get by the 2015 Pro Mazda Champion around the outside of Turn 1.
The race settled in after that with the Kaiser, Herta and Leist battle for the final spot on the podium being the closest.
The action picked up for the final two laps when a pair of twosomes, Piedrahita and Alberico (Turn 1), and Norman and Urrutia (Turn 6), made contact while they were battling for position. Both incident were going to be reviewed after the race, and we’ll update the results of those reviews in our post-race Monday notebook.
Urrutia, who was running in sixth had a scary moment on the final lap of the race, when his left rear tire exploded while he was going through the high speed Kink. The Uruguayan driver was able to keep control and immediately parked the Arrow sponsored, black and gold No. 5 as he crossed the finish line in 11th.
Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Allied Building Products Race #2 Results
|1||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||Carlin||20 LAPS|
|2||18||Kyle Kaiser||Juncos Racing||10.5479|
|3||98||Colton Herta||Andretti Steinbrenner Racing||12.7612|
|5||9||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||17.5908|
|6||51||Shelby Blackstock||Belardi Auto Racing||24.6336|
|7||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||26.0311|
|9||28||Dalton Kellett||Andretti Autosport||28.9308|
|10||2||Juan Piedrahita||Team Pelfrey||45.2029|
|11||5||Santi Urrutia||Belardi Auto Racing||57.6546|
|12||31||Nicolas Dapero||Juncos Racing||102.6810|
|13||11||Garth Rickards||Carlin||-2 LAPS|
|14||27||Nico Jamin||Andretti Autosport||-19 LAPS|