By Steve Wittich
In the four races prior to arriving in Canada, it was Carlin’s Matheus Leist who was the hottest driver in the Indy Lights series, winning three of four races and gaining 37 points on Kyle Kaiser in the chase for the $1 million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship. But a trip to the “Great White North” has cooled off the 18 year-old Brazilian who was out scored by 38 points this weekend by double Toronto race winner and points leader Kyle Kaiser.
For the second straight Indy Lights race in Toronto, Kyle Kasier crossed the finish line with a comfortable margin over the second place finisher. However, today’s tale is much different than yesterday’s.
On Saturday, the 21 year-old won pole and led every lap in a dominant performance. Today, it was an aggressive start and a little luck that helped Kaiser climb back to the top of the podium.
Kaiser, who has continued to tell TSO that he’s going to remain aggressive held true to his word, not holding back and pushing hard until he grabbed the lead.
Aaron Telitz, who started seventh was able to make up five spots to finish on the second step of the podium, the Wisconsin driver’s third podium of his Indy Lights rookie season.
Claman DeMelo started fifth, but ended up with his second “home field” podium of the weekend.
The beautiful blue skies that greeted the first rung of the MRTI, had changed to overcast when the 14 turbo-charged Mazda 2.0L power plants were fired for the final MRTI race of the weekend
The green flag for the the 45 race lap was waved off when there were stragglers trying to catch up to the top three rows who were all in perfect side-by-side formation.
Herta was able to jump out to a slight lead on the second lap double file start redo, but behind him Kaiser jumped to inside and Nico Jamin jumped to outside of Santiago Urrutia making three wide going into Turn 1.
That was never going to work, and didn’t when the black and gold Arrow sponsored No. 5 of Urrutia made contact with the red and silver Synovus sponsored No. 27 of Jamin. The French rookie made contact with the wall on the outside of Turn 1, and with no where to go, Shelby Blackstock’s familiar red Belardi Auto Racing car came upon the stranded car of Jamin and the Nashville, Tenn. native went for a wild ride, climbing up and over the right rear wheel of the No. 26.
The car’s of Jamin and Blackstock were not able to continue, and after limping around to the pits, the No. 22 of Neil Alberico was also retired.
Four drivers, Matheus Leist, Garth Rickards, Juan Piedrahita, and Dalton Kellett were all forced to pit to make repairs, but all four were able to continue and remain on the lead lap.
After three laps of clean-up, the race was restarted with the following drivers making up the top 10: Herta, Kaiser, Urrutia, Claman DeMelo,
Kaiser was able to closely follow Herta on the restart, and took a look on the outside of Turn 3, but smartly tucked in behind the fellow American driver. Right behind that battle, Claman De Melo was able to get by Urrutia for third. A lap later, Telitz was able to get by Urrutia for fourth place.
A few laps later, Leist nudged into the tire barrier in Turn 3 after missing his braking point while trying to pass Ryan Norman for seventh. The Brazilian was able to get the No. 26 re-started and pointed in the right direction but fell down to 11th. Leist was able to recover, making up six spots in the final 30 laps of the race.
The yellow flag was shown by starter for second time on Lap 12 after the No. 5 of Santiago Urrutia came to a stop right under the flag stand, and on the racing line. Urrutia told TSO after the race that his power plant just shut down.
The green came back out for the final time on Lap 14, and once again Kaiser made an effort to get by Herta on the outside of Turn 3, and once again, he thought better of it and tucked in behind the No. 98. Behind the leaders, Teltiz was able to get by Claman de Mello for what at that point in the race, was the final spot on the podium
Herta was able to pull out to almost a two-second lead with 20 laps to go, but IndyCar Radio reported that their spotter said that Herta might have tagged the concrete wall, and that he was reporting an issue but his lead continued to grow until Lap 26, when Herta came to a stop in the run-off in Turn 3 with visible suspension damage to the left rear of the Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing No. 98.
Herta told IndyCar radio that he didn’t think he hit the wall, but qualified it by saying that “those things don’t just fail.” After the race, Kaiser told TSO that he witnessed Herta tag the wall at the exit of Turn 6 on a number of occasions and that he wondered how long it would be before he had an issue.
With ten laps left Kaiser was able to pull out to a 8.6 lead over Telitz, and the best action on track was between Norman, and Leist for the final spot in the top five.
It took three laps for Liest to muscle his way by Norman, but he was eventually able to get the outside Turn 3 pass completed.
Telitz was able to eat into Kaiser’s lead over the final ten laps, but the points leader still had a 5.8 second lead when he crossed under the checkered flag.
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products Race #2
|Zachary Claman De Melo
|– 1 LAPS