After winning the first three Indy Lights races in 2015, Carlin sophomore Ed Jones was in the midst of a 16-race drought heading to Barber Motorsports Park. A difficult first practice session did not provide the 20 year-old much confidence, but a set of fresh Cooper Tires and revisiting a previous set-up shot the Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels sponsored No. 11 to the top of the time charts in the afternoon.
Jones led all 35 laps, holding off teammate Felix Serralles by 1.5 seconds, and credited the decision to do a new tire run yesterday as the springboard to starting on pole today.
The victory was driver Jones fourth career Indy Lights win and the sixth team win for Carlin.
Quick note from qualifying: Zachary Claman De Melo who turned in the quickest time during the early morning qualifying session was disqualified from the session for pursuant to Rule 14.6.1.
Rule 14.6.1 states that:
The minimum underwing height as measured from the reference plane is 1.250”
In layman’s terms, that means that the floor of the car was lower than allowed. The lower the floor, the higher the downforce, so it was a definite advantage for the No. 13 Juncos Racing machine.
Just as the two rows of eight Mazda powered Dallaras began to pair-up for their side-by-side start, the Stellrecht sponsored No. 27 piloted by Dean Stoneman, who was to start in the second spot, sputtered in Turn 14 backing up the field and causing the start to be waved off.
The green flag flew the next lap by and Jones was able to get the jump on the field into Turn 1. Andretti Autosport’s Shelby Blackstock who had an empty spot vacated by Stoneman directly in front of him was not able to take advantage as he ran wide in Turn 2 and RC Enerson was able to take advantage and slot into second place.
There running order at the end of the first lap was: Jones, Enerson, Felix Rosenqvist, Santiago Urrutia, Scott Hargrove, Blackstock, Serralles, Zach Veach, Kyle Kaiser, Claman De Melo, Dalton Kellett, Andre Negrao, Juan Piedrahita, Scott Anderson, Neil Alberico and Stoneman.
On Lap 3, Urrutia made a late attempt to jump inside Rosenqvist in Turn 1, and his right front wing made contact with left rear tire of Rosenqvist, with both cars spinning off track.
The bright red Belardi Auto Racing No. 14 of Rosenqvist ended up beached in the gravel trap causing a full course yellow. Rosenqvist was restarted by the Holmatro Safety Team but was forced to pit losing three laps in the process. The 24 year-old protege of Stefan Johansson finished the race in 14th position.
Urrutia was penalized for avoidable contact and between the mandatory drive-thru penalty under green and the pit stop for a new nose and front wing, the Soul Red Madza sponsored No. 55 ended the day in 11th.
The field went back to green on Lap 6 and while Jones was able to get a good jump, Hargrove was able to get a good run on Enerson. The bright yellow and black Team Pelfrey No. 2 and the Lucas Oil sponsored No. 7 went side by side through T1 – T3 and T5 before Hargrove forced Enerson wide on the exit of Turn 5.
Enerson dropped back to seventh, and ended the day in sixth.
After taking the second spot, Hargrove was forced to pit with a punctured right rear Cooper Tire and was able to continue at the very back of the lead lap, eventually ending the day in 13th, the last car on the lead lap.
The biggest beneficiary of the early contact by four of the front runners was Serralles who started 11th but found himself all the way up to 2nd on Lap 7. Veach who began the race in sixth was able to move up to third. But, the biggest early mover was Claman De Melo, who started dead last after being disqualified from qualifying, and was able to capitalize on others misfortune to gain ten spots and move up to sixth place. The 17 year-old Canadian ended up with an impressive fifth place finish.
The race finally settle down for the middle portion as drivers started to take care of their Cooper Tires in the hops of make a late race run at their fellow competitors.
At the end of Lap 10, Jones held a 0.6 second lead on teammate Seralles with Veach, and Blackstock following closely. Kaiser, Claman De Melo, Enerson, Piedranhita, Negrao and Kellett made up the remainder of the Top 10.
At the halfway point of the 35 lap race, leader Jones had a 0.7377 second lead over Serralles. Veach was was another second back with Blackstock, Kaiser and Claman De Melo all within five seconds of Jones.
By lap 20, Serralles began to reel in his teammate Jones and had narrowed the gap to 0.4 seconds. Further back in the field Juncos Racing teammates Kaiser and Claman De Melo were turing the quickest laps in fifth and sixth and were quickly catching up to fourth place Blackstock.
On lap 26 misfortune befell Kaiser, the championship leader going into the race. The No. 18 InterVision/NetApp/Juniper Networks ground to a halt in Turn 7 relegating the 20 year-old to 15th and dropping him to second in the championship.
Meanwhile, the battle at the front of the field began to heat up with Serralles putting pressure on Jones, but with only three laps left, Serralles went wide at the exit of the final corner, giving Jones some breathing room.
Right behind the leaders, the battle between Veach and Blackstock caught fire. Blackstock took a look underneath Veach in Turn 5 on the final two laps, but Veach was able to defend against the Andretti Autosport sophomore and grab the final spot on the podium. The second podium of 2016, and his 22nd career Indy Lights podium.
With Kaiser having his issues, Serralles now moves into first place in the championship, just passing Kaiser. TSO asked if that changes his approach, and he replied that it doesn’t and that he’s going to keep racing for wins and doesn’t pay attention to the points.
Here are the unofficial results:
RANK DRIVER GAP
1 Ed Jones 0.0000
2 Felix Serralles 1.5881
3 Zach Veach 2.6705
4 Shelby Blackstock 3.3133
5 Zachary Claman De Melo 5.3350
6 RC Enerson 6.5415
7 Juan Piedrahita 14.9831
8 Andre Negrao 15.7903
9 Dalton Kellett 17.7290
10 Scott Anderson 17.7891
11 Santiago Urrutia 21.1585
12 Neil Alberico 25.6381
13 Scott Hargrove 58.7255
14 Felix Rosenqvist 3L
15 Kyle Kaiser 8L
16 Dean Stoneman 30L
The final Indy Lights race of the weekend takes place at 12:20pm (CT) on Sunday.
Don’t miss any of the action
- live timing – Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, & USF2000
- on twitter –Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, Cooper Tire, Mazda Racing and TSO Ladder
- via the Road To Indy TV app – Android or Apple iOS
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You can find our Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire preview here —> http://www.tsoladder.com/2016/04/22/barber-motorsports-park-indy-lights-presented-by-cooper-tire-preview/
You can find the Practice 1 recap here —> http://www.tsoladder.com/2016/04/22/barber-motorsports-park-indy-lights-practice-1/
You can find the Practice 2 recap here —> http://www.tsoladder.com/2016/04/22/barber-motorsports-park-indy-lights-practice-2-recap-and-times/
You can find qualifying results here —> http://www.tsoladder.com/2016/04/23/barber-motorsports-park-indy-lights-qualifying-recap-and-results/