By Tony DiZinno

Welcome to Round 7 of the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires and Round 5 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda seasons, from Lucas Oil Raceway just outside Indianapolis right at the Clermont/Brownsburg border.

Remember that tonight, there are 50 percent more points on offer for what will be the first of two oval races for Pro Mazda and the first and only USF2000 oval race this season.

It was a mad scramble to get out of Indianapolis Motor Speedway by 2:15 p.m. from Carb Day and after a crazy Freedom 100 for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, and off to Lucas Oil Raceway, but I made it here halfway through USF2000 qualifying about 2:55 p.m.

A couple surprises greeted us upon our return here to the track for the first time in two years. For one, the usual gate we enter near the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires paddock on the south side of the track, near Turn 2, is closed. That means a quick detour to head north to the main entrance. This then means a longer drive back inbound once in the circuit and to a number of different potential parking spots near the Lucas Oil Raceway road course, near Turn 4.

The second surprise was literally earth-shaking and ground-pounding. Some drag race testing is happening behind us on the Lucas Oil Raceway drag strip. So, naturally, this is quite a bit louder than what we’re hearing with open-wheel cars.

MRTI’s own one-night “Field of 33”

There are two scratches to the projected fields. Aaron Telitz’s planned “Carb Day Double” won’t happen as ArmsUp Motorsports will run a single car only for Mazda Motorsports Scholarship recipient Keith Donegan in USF2000. Meanwhile Kris Wright is a no-go in Pro Mazda in the second BN Racing car.

This leaves 21 Tatuus USF-17 Mazdas and 12 Tatuus PM-18 Mazdas, respectively, for the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires’ own personal “Field of 33” at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.

Quick practice notes and times

Following the Mazda Road to Indy Oval Summit, it was time to be on track on Thursday afternoon for testing and practice.

Practice took place last night for both USF2000 and Pro Mazda, to be closer to race conditions.

Both points leaders led their respective sessions with Parker Thompson (Pro Mazda) and Kyle Kirkwood (USF2000) on top.

USF2000 Times
Pro Mazda Times

Qualifying reports

Kirkwood topples the Pabst posse

In USF2000, it was looking like Pabst Racing would have a 1-2 on the grid, but Kyle Kirkwood spoiled the party right at the end for Cape Motorsports.

The past Team USA Scholarship recipient laid down two laps at 98.568 and 98.442 mph to have a two-lap average of 98.505 mph.

Pabst will roll off second and third with Rasmus Lindh and Lucas Kohl. Kohl has one past start here in 2016.

Keith Donegan has a career-best fourth spot on the grid at a track that plays to ArmsUp Motorsports’ engineer John Walko’s strengths.

Pabst’s third of four drivers, Kaylen Frederick, completes the top five.

Points leader Alex Baron will roll off from eighth place in the Swan-RJB Motorsports entry.

The Freedom 75 will go green at 6:05 p.m. and run until 6:45 p.m.

Cooper Tires Freedom 75 – Unofficial Qualifying Results

P No Name Team QSpeed L1Speed L2Speed
1 8 Kyle Kirkwood Cape Motorsports 98.505 98.568 98.442
2 23 Rasmus Lindh Pabst Racing 98.443 98.144 98.744
3 22 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 98.175 98.042 98.308
4 30 Keith Donegan ArmsUp Motorsports 97.575 97.690 97.460
5 24 Kaylen Frederick Pabst Racing 97.569 97.833 97.306
6 36 Darren Keane Newman Wachs Racing 97.565 97.669 97.462
7 91 Igor Fraga Exclusive Autosport 97.559 97.479 97.639
8 19 Alex Baron Swan-RJB Motorsports 97.428 97.050 97.808
9 80 Julian Van der Watt Team Pelfrey 97.338 97.149 97.528
10 12 Jose Sierra DEForce Racing 97.264 97.833 96.703
11 11 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 97.231 97.918 96.553
12 21 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 97.046 96.905 97.188
13 10 Zach Holden DEForce Racing 96.580 96.407 96.753
14 5 Mathias Soler-Obel Sol.O Racing 96.458 96.611 96.304
15 90 Manuel Cabrera Exclusive Autosport 95.925 95.015 96.853
16 27 Colin Kaminsky DEForce Racing 95.576 95.398 95.755
17 37 David Osborne Newman Wachs Racing 95.157 95.125 95.189
18 82 Bruna Tomaselli Team Pelfrey 94.860 93.969 95.768
19 29 Russell McDonough BN Racing 94.617 94.364 94.872
20 38 Oscar DeLuzuriaga Newman Wachs Racing 94.048 94.123 93.972
21 81 Kyle Dupell Team Pelfrey 93.383 92.969 93.802

Parker Thompson parks it on pole for Exclusive 

For Pro Mazda, Juncos Racing found itself in the similar place as Pabst Racing – it looked like they’d have three of the top four positions, before the last driver to run knocked them off pole.

In this case it was two-time Lucas Oil Raceway starter in USF2000, Parker Thompson of Exclusive Autosport, who pulled off the pole speed at 107.764 mph.

Juncos fell to second with Carlos Cunha at 106.826 mph, then David Malukas in third in the BN Racing entry and the two other Juncos cars of Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis.

RP Motorsport Racing’s Harrison Scott will start sixth for his oval debut while Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew will start eighth, behind the lone Team Pelfrey car of Sting Ray Robb.

Cooper Tires Freedom 90 – Unofficial Qualifying Results

P No Name Team QSpeed L1Speed L2Speed
1 90 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 107.264 106.816 107.716
2 1 Carlos Cunha Juncos Racing 106.726 106.423 107.031
3 79 David Malukas BN Racing 106.129 106.219 106.039
4 9 Robert Megennis Juncos Racing 105.530 105.774 105.286
5 2 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 105.375 105.569 105.182
6 10 Harrison Scott RP Motorsport Racing 105.256 105.154 105.358
7 82 Sting Ray Robb Team Pelfrey 105.210 104.925 105.497
8 3 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports 104.428 104.373 104.483
9 27 Lodovico Laurini RP Motorsport Racing 103.484 103.500 103.467
10 91 Antonio Serravalle Exclusive Autosport 103.167 102.962 103.374
11 8 Nikita Lastochkin Cape Motorsports 103.087 103.523 102.655
12 83 Charles Finelli BN Racing/Fatboy Racing 101.983 101.818 102.148

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