Relief and joy were the emotions exhibited by Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire driver Zach Veach who used a final lap flier to win his first pole of the year with a lap at 1:52.941. That was only one-hundredth of a second quicker than reigning Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire champion Santiago Urrutia.
The pole is the Stockdale, Ohio natives fourth overall in Indy Lights and seventh overall in the Mazda Road To Indy.
The 21 year-old explained that despite being the quickest in the practice session this morning his Belardi Auto Racing engineer Kent Boyer made a big change in the car. Veach wasn’t so sure about the changes in during his first new tire stint, but he admitted that he was overdriving the car and that he was less aggressive on his second new Cooper Tire run and that he kept getting quicker each lap.
Normally when a track record falls by 12 seconds it would be a huge deal, but in this case the Indy Lights track record of 2:04.812 was set in 1990, the last time Indy Lights visited Road America, by Mike Snow.
The half-hour session began promptly at 2:10pm and after a handful of laps most of the drivers came in to make a few adjustments before heading back out to see if the changes helped with the car balance and allow them to go quicker.
At the halfway point of the half-hour session the top five were: Santiago Urrutia, Zach Veach, Ed Jones, Dean Stoneman, and Juan Piedrahita .
With only 10 minutes left in the session, the majority of the drivers went to fresh Cooper sticker tires.
With five minutes left in the session, the times were dropping on each lap and the top five were: Urrutia, Jones, Negao, Kyle Kaiser and Stoneman.
Just when it looked like Urrutia would take his maiden Indy Lights pole, the veteran Veach went one-hundredth of a second quicker than Urrutia, who did not get a chance to try and snag the top spot back when he went off course on his final lap. He told IndyCar radio that he might have damaged the floor on his car doing so.
Points leader Jones will start third which is two spots ahead of his closest championship contender Stoneman.
GP2 veteran Negrao will start fourth, his best start of the year.
Of note was the impressive effort put in by series debutant Garett Grist (Belardi Auto Racing) who is making his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire start and first visit to Road America. The 21 year-olds best lap was less than a second behind his pole winning teammate.
Qualifying results for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire Race #1
|10||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:54.289||1.3484|