Pato O’Ward won three of the first four Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire races of the 2016 season, but was only originally confirmed through the double headers in St. Petersburg, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama. Late last week, it was announced that the 17 year-old Pro Mazda points leader who is sponsored by Gap Guard would be competing in both events in Indianapolis, Indiana, on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“I’m really excited for Indy,” said O’Ward, who celebrated his 17th birthday last Friday. “Last year I had a very bad weekend there, so I’m looking forward to changing that around. I have great memories of the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in 2014 and I’m super-stoked to be coming back and leading the championship. My goal is to leave the weekend leading as well, with more of a comfortable gap in points. I have been preparing a lot and really want to bring some fantastic results to myself and Team Pelfrey.”
Sophomore O’Ward, who finished sixth, 10th, and fifth in three races on the 2.439 mi Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2015, currently has a 12 point lead on his Team Pelfrey rookie teammate Aaron Telitz.
In four previous races on the IMS road course, the Rice Lake Weighing Systems sponsored Telitz has had impressive results with three podiums and two front-row starts.
With two third place finishes at Barber Motorsports Park, Juncos Racing’s Garett Grist moved from seventh place to third place in the quest for the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship. Juncos Racing has collected one win, and five podiums (leading all Pro Mazda teams) in the five races the Mazda Renesis powered cars have contested on the IMS road course, so the 21 year-old Canadian should have a good opportunity to gain points on O’Ward and Telitz.
Grist’s Juncos Racing teammate Will Owen has improved with each outing in 2016. The Texas Christian University student started the year with ninth, sixth, fifth and fourth place finishes, and will also be looking to move up the points table at a track he’s had success at in the past. In five starts on the IMS road course the 21 year-old has one win, two podiums and has failed to finish outside of the top eight.
The two veteran’s rookie Juncos Racing teammates will both be looking to improve on their Barber Motorsports Park results. After two DNF’s due to contact in Alabama, Australian Jake Parsons needs a clean weekend to show that his results can match his pace. Meanwhile, Nicolas Dapero, who spent last year as a Juncos development driver, will need to continue his steady improvement if the 17 year-old wants to compete in the deep Pro Mazda field.
The Nicolas and Dominic led Cape Motorsports, lead all teams with two wins on the IMS road course, and will hope that past success on the the 2.439 mi Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course will translate into better results for Pro Mazda rookie teammates Nico Jamin and Jake Eidson.
Two victories at this event last year (combined with a poor result for Eidson), helped kick-off Jamin’s march to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda championship.
The field will be filled out by four National Class drivers. Series regulars Bobby Eberle, who is making the move from World Speed Motorsports to JDC Motorsports and Jay Horak (M1 Racing) will be joined by Kevin Davis (JDC Motorsports) and Bob Kaminsky (Kaminsky Racing) who both took part in this event last year.
Links to Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire info:
Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires schedule
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
- 10:15am – 11:15am — Pro Mazda testing
- 3:15pm – 4:15pm — Pro Mazda testing
Thursday, May 12, 2016
- 10:15am – 10:45am — Pro Mazda practice #1
- 2:15pm – 2:45pm — Pro Mazda practice #2
Friday, May 13, 2016
- 10:15am – 10:45am — Pro Mazda qualifying
- 11:45am – 12:15pm – Pro Mazda autograph session (IndyCar Fan Village)
- 4:30pm – 5:30pm — Pro Mazda race #1 (40 minutes)
Saturday, May 14, 2016
- 10:20am – 11:10am — Indy Lights race #2 (40 minutes)
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
- on all social media channels via the #TeamCooperTire and #MRTI hashtags
You can also catch all the action on IndyCar’s YouTube channel:
You can watch last year’s races here: