With the deepest field in over 15 years, it’s not a surprise that there have been five different winners during the 2016 chase for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire championship, but that it occurred at the fifth race of the season is a little bit of a surprise.
Santiago Urrutia, the reigning Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire champion became the fifth different driver from the fourth different team to win in the fifth race of 18 race contest for the $1million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship. With the win, Urrutia moved up to fourth in the championship.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian team owner Sam Schmidt told IndyCar Radio that it felt good to get an Indy Lights win again. Schmidt, whose team scored it’s 69th win today, also complimented the improved competition in Indy Lights.
After a slow start to the season at St. Petersburg, Ed Jones visited the podium for the third race in a row and for the tenth time in his short Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire. The three race run of consistency, combined with his competitors issues in Alabama equates to the 21 year-old heading to the three “Month of May” races as the points leader for the second straight year.
Jones was happy with his weekend and explained that he didn’t have the pace this weekend. He told ndyCar Radio that consistency is going to be the key with such a deep field and minimizing your mistakes
After stalling yesterday due to a sensor issue and starting from the back, Dean Stoneman was able to make it to the start of the second Firestone Indy Lights race having earned a second starting position for this race as well.
Holding onto the podium despite some pressure from behind, Stoneman, who was clearly relieved to finally finish the race and score a podium, is pleased with how the Andretti Autosport team is working together and more importantly that they are making progress in developing the race car.
Ed Jones maintained the lead on the start while a very loose Stoneman held onto second.
Kyle Kaiser moved up to sixth and gave Shelby Blackstock a strong run for fifth before Blackstock held onto the position.
On the second lap, Juan Piedrahita spun Felix Serralles at Turn 2. That earned Piedrahita a drive-through penalty.
Serralles kept the car running, but with caution free race was not able to recover and finished fifteenth. The Puerto Rican driver held a slim championship lead going into the race, but fell to third in the standings.
Up front, also on Lap 2, Santiago Urrutia got past Stoneman for second place. Urrutia then set off in chase of leader Ed Jones.
On the third lap, Urrutia put a super-late, aggressive move on leader Jones at Turn 5 and made the inside move work for the lead. He then began to stretch out a lead that was up to 2.2 seconds by Lap 10.
Urrutia admitted to the mistake that he made yesterday (a late pass attempt on Felix Rosenqvist in Turn 1 that ruined both of their races), but explained that with Barber Motorsports Park being a difficult circuit to pass on
That pass for the lead also enabled Stoneman, RC Enerson, and Shelby Blackstock to catch up but Jones was able to stretch out a decent gap over the third-place Stoneman.
Zachary Claman De Melo had started in the back in 15th place, but he had already moved up to seventh place and was the fastest car on the track.
Half-way through the 30 lap event and the top ten were: Urrutia, Jones, Stoneman, Enerson, Blackstock, Kaiser, Clam De Melo, Rosenqvist, Kellett and Veach.
Urrutia was able to gap Jones by 3.6 seconds, and the best battle on the track was between the Juncos Racing teammates Claman De Melo and Kaiser who were going hard at it for sixth place. The top eight were all within 10 seconds of Urrutia.
With ten laps to go, while the gap up front began to grow, rookie Stoneman began to put some pressure on Jones for second, and just behind them his Andretti Autosport teammate Blackstock was right on the gearbox of Enerson for the fourth spot.
After losing the points lead to Serralles after suffering a mechanical failure on Saturday, Kaiser drove a smart race to finish in sixth and head to the next event trailing only Jones in the championship.
RANK DRIVER GAP
1 Santiago Urrutia 30 laps
2 Ed Jones 4.2437
3 Dean Stoneman 5.2194
4 RC Enerson 6.0994
5 Shelby Blackstock 8.1662
6 Kyle Kaiser 8.6812
7 Zachary Claman De Melo 9.3748
8 Felix Rosenqvist 13.5499
9 Dalton Kellett 18.9099
10 Zach Veach 20.6633
11 Andre Negrao 21.6868
12 Scott Hargrove 23.7974
13 Scott Anderson 24.6182
14 Neil Alberico -124.5400
15 Felix Serralles -123.1720
16 Juan Piedrahita -117.6190
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire championship heads north to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in support of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis in two short weeks.
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/
You can find a race #1 recap here —> http://www.tsoladder.com/2016/04/23/barber-motorsports-park-indy-lights-race-1-recap-and-results/