Doing a double dip of quick hitters this morning after a pair of sessions to kick off the day here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, on the Saturday for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires kicked off the day with a 30-minute qualifying session from 7:50 to 8:20 a.m. ET and local time, followed shortly by the first of two Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 40-minute races – both of which will run on the same day.
Notes and tidbits to follow:
Prior to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying for the Cooper Tire Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, TSO caught up with Zach Veach of Belardi Auto Racing, who languished in 12th in Friday’s lone practice session through no fault of his own.
As it turned out, Veach noted a significant horsepower loss caused by his turbo issue. The team diagnosed and fixed the issue and Veach would be higher up the grid in qualifying, albeit not quite in pole contention.
The thus far dominant driver of the weekend has been Uruguayan Santiago Urrutia, who led Friday’s lone official practice session and was also a Pro Mazda race winner here last year for Team Pelfrey.
The Pro Mazda champion, who now drives the Soul Red No. 55 Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, improved more than a second from his practice time on Friday (1:11.9530) to a new best time of 1:10.9428 in qualifying.
To wit, he was also nearly seven tenths quicker on the field following his first pole position of the season for the first of two races this weekend.
Urrutia enters the race in second in points, 24 behind points leader Ed Jones of Carlin.
Another Carlin driver, third-placed in points Felix Serralles, will line up second on the grid.
Andre Negrao made it two SPM cars in the top five in third, ahead of Dean Stoneman and Jones. Shelby Blackstock is a respectable sixth ahead of Veach and Neil Alberico. Past Mid-Ohio Pro Mazda and USF2000 race winner Garett Grist slots into ninth, while Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser had an off session and was 12th.
Times are below.
|10||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:12.407||1.4638|
The first Indy Lights race is scheduled for later this afternoon, slotted between 3:30 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. on the schedule.
In the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, TSO caught up with Aaron Telitz, who entered this weekend’s Royal Purple Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, after he qualified second.
The Birchwood, Wis. native indicated he felt he did have an extra tenth available in the bank in qualifying, but ran to a plan for Team Pelfrey in terms of the number of laps completed. He pitted after completing that amount of scheduled laps, but at the same moment when Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Nico Jamin pipped him for pole and the track record that went with it.
With the start – like yesterday’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda race – moved from the backstraight into Turn 4 to the frontstraight, passing was always going to be difficult and so whoever emerged ahead from Turn 1 was likely going to have the edge.
That driver on this occasion was Jamin, who took the lead from the green flag ahead of Telitz and Owen.
Jamin was running at a ridiculously quick clip throughout the race, with a new race lap record of 1:18.598 nearly a full 1.2 seconds quicker than the previous lap record of 1:19.773, set last year by Neil Alberico.
And that actually works as a perfect segue to note that Jamin dominated the race, winning by 5.0917 seconds over Telitz, for Cape’s first Pro Mazda win since Alberico pulled off a victory here last year. The 40-minute race lasted 23 laps, and ran without a full-course caution.
For Jamin, it also adds him to the list of Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda champions who’ve now won a race in Pro Mazda as well. It’s his fourth straight victory at Mid-Ohio, having also won all three USF2000 races here last year.
Telitz, thinking more of the championship than the race win, was fully content with second place with Owen leading Juncos Racing’s efforts in third.
Jake Parsons (Juncos) ran an untroubled race to fourth while the battle on the day was for fifth.
With Nico Dapero and TJ Fischer both getting around Pato O’Ward – Fischer being the more notable driver to do so considering he’s the third member of Team Pelfrey and not in the championship fight – the Mexican driver finished seventh, and has thus lost the points lead for the first time this season.
Although O’Ward won six of the first seven races, he’s now finished off the podium in four of the last five races. And that’s swung the title lead to Telitz for the first time.
After the race TSO caught up with all top three drivers.
Jamin said quite simply, “I just love this track!” He added that with the medium speed corners and challenge in passing, if you get on the pole, chances are very good that you’ll win the race.
That might put Telitz in the catbird’s seat for this evening’s second race of the day, set from 6 to 6:50 p.m. If it rains, Telitz said being on the pole will allow for clear vision without any spray.
Telitz focused on defending from Will Owen at the start, rather than attacking Jamin. He said he’s more or less racing O’Ward only in terms of the title, so finishing ahead of him first is most important.
Owen noted that the impressive pace throughout the field speaks to how well the Cooper Tires are coming in and gelling with the track. He’s focused on beating his teammates.
Race results for this race are below, followed by the grid for the second race.
Qualifying for second race:
|7||81||TJ Fischer||1:19.3821||Race 1|
There’s three other Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires events today. The second of three USF2000 races is slotted from 1 to 1:45 p.m. ET.
Then the first Indy Lights race is at 3:30, and the second Pro Mazda race is at 6.
And there might be rain later today, which could make things even more interesting.