After missing out on pole in Friday’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires qualifying session by one-tenth of a second, Andretti Autosport rookie Patricio O’Ward ended Saturday’s qualifying session the same amount ahead Colton Herta (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing).
The Mexican pilot’s pole lap of 1:05.039, was quicker than Aaron Telitz’s pole lap of 1:05.1279 from Friday afternoon.
It’s the 18-year-olds first Indy Lights pole, and sixth career Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pole.
O’Ward told INDYCAR Radio’s Rob Howden that it took longer then they thought it would for the tires to come up to temperature, and that the team made no changes to the No. 27 for his final run at pole. He just had to dig deeper to find the extra speed.
The top three qualifiers from Friday’s qualifying session, Telitz, Herta, and O’Ward, spent the first half of the 30-minute session trading the provisional among themselves.
At the halfway point of the 30 minutes session, the top five were: Teliz, O’Ward, Herta, Franzoni, and Blackstock. At this point, Telitz’s lap time was 1:05.499, but the top five were all within four-tenths of the Rice Lake, Wisc. Native.
Other then Santi Urrutia, who appeared to be doing a long race run on scrubbed tires, the track went reasonably quiet as the teams called their drivers to pit road to make some final adjustments bolt on the second set of sticker Cooper Tire slicks. The Belardi red was called to pit road just as the rest of the field started to head back out for the final pole shootout.
After three or four laps to let the Cooper Tires came up to temperature, the timing and scoring screen started to light up as drivers began to get quicker
Neil Alberico and O’Ward were the first two drivers to improve on the quickest lap of the session.
With just under five minutes left in the qualifying session, O’Ward grabbed the provisional pole. That lap at 1:05.039 broke Telitz’s track record set in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session.
Telitz, Herta, Franzoni, Alberico, and Urrutia were all turning quicker and quicker laps, but the session came to an end with just under two minutes remaining when Telitz made contact with the concrete barriers in Turn 3.
At the time of the incident, Telitz had the second quickest lap of the session but was dropped to third after he lost his fastest lap for causing the red flag.
Telitz was checked, cleared and released to drive.
For the second straight day, the Belardi Auto Racing team will have to flail to repair a badly damaged machine after a Turn 3 incident.
Scratch that. The car appears to have suffered enough damage that it will not be able to be run further this weekend. The team does not have a spare car available, and other options are being explored.
This was the second straight Indy Lights qualifying session before the first of two Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Cooper Tires races gets the green flag at 1:05 pm.
|Andretti Steinbrenner Racing
|Belardi Auto Racing
|Belardi Auto Racing
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