A note first before the second of two Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio races for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, because there was one nugget revealed after Saturday’s first race with regards to the championship.
In the official series post-race release, this bit caught our eyes:
“The championship chase has tightened considerably, with Jones now just six points clear of Urrutia and 24 points ahead of Stoneman, who upon review of the Toronto event, today was credited with an additional seven points from Race Two. Four races now remain this season, including one more tomorrow, starting at 12:25 p.m. EDT.”
We checked with Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires series officials after this release and got this clarification:
Rule 22.214.171.124a, lap credit for a non-starting car, was assessed. Here’s that rule from the 2016 Indy Lights rulebook:
A Car shall be considered the first Car out of the Race and shall be awarded the final finishing position based on the following order:
a) The Car is a non-starting Car
So here’s what this means in layman’s terms: Stoneman was initially credited with a DNS (Did Not Start) and not awarded any points.
But upon this review, he’s been awarded 14th place points, so 7 points added to his tally.
He was planning to start the race, it just goes down as first DNF (Did Not Finish) of 14th place, rather than a DNS, and that’s why the points were added.
So, that as a preamble, here’s the recap of today’s second Indy Lights race of the weekend, and forgive us if it’s a bit scatterbrained – there’s a lot going on this weekend and this was the lucky number seven of seven Mazda Road to Indy races this weekend.
Here was the grid, with Santiago Urrutia in the No. 55 Soul Red Mazda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on pole for the second time in as many days.
|10||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||01:12.5390||Quals|
Urrutia then launched to another solid lead over Felix Serralles, Dean Stoneman, Andre Negrao, Zach Veach and Ed Jones, with Stoneman moving up a spot and Jones losing a spot as Veach again gained two spots.
Things more or less settled into a rhythm before Lap 11, when Garett Grist, who’s had a tougher than expected weekend in the No. 3 Buy Gap Guard/Lander Property Management/Mac Tools Dallara IL-15 Mazda, went into the gravel at Turn 4.
That brought out the first full course caution of the race and things changed a bit during that yellow. Serralles, who was running second in the No. 4 Carlin entry, spun under yellow from second place at Turn 6 before the crest of the hill.
The restart from that yellow came on Lap 16 with Urrutia leading Stoneman, Negrao, Veach and Jones, who was having defend from Shelby Blackstock.
Carlin’s day went from bad to worse shortly thereafter. Contact occurred between the restarted Serralles, who’d fallen to seventh, and his teammate Jones, in the No. 11 Jebel Ali Resorts & Hotels entry, on the backstraight on the run to Turn 4.
And then by Lap 21, it all fell apart for Jones, the championship leader, at Turn 2. Jones locked up and went deep into the gravel at Turn 2, and into the tire barrier. While it looked like a possible brake, steering column or throttle issue, the team is yet to diagnose exactly what happened.
It was a heavy impact and fortunately the Dubai-based Brit was able to get out of his car, cleared from the medical center after a check up.
That being said, the points impact would be a tougher one for the erstwhile consistent driver, who’d only finished outside the top-10 once all season.
The restart came a few laps later on Lap 26, with Urrutia still leading Stoneman, Negrao, Veach and Blackstock, who’d moved into the top-five position in his No. 51 Starstruck Andretti Autosport entry following Jones’ demise.
After Lap 30 in the 38-lap race, Serralles had more contact, this time with Dalton Kellett in his No. 28 K-LINE Andretti Autosport car, at the Keyhole when battling over seventh place. Both drivers dropped down the order as a result.
Up front Urrutia continued unchallenged in a pole-to-win romp, leading all 38 laps, and beating Stoneman’s No. 27 Stellrecht Andretti car by 1.5270 seconds.
Negrao, in third, banked his second podium of the weekend and fourth of the year in the No. 17 Lucas Oil car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Results are below:
|7||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||38|
Post-race, Urrutia noted how important track position was en route to his win – pole position helped propel him into this double win and his fourth triumph of the season.
Stoneman finished second courtesy of a strong actual start, but struggled on restarts.
Negrao was thankful to keep his podium streak rolling.
Unofficially Urrutia is at 309 points with Jones on 293, Stoneman on 284, Serralles 267, Kaiser 260 and Veach 257.
Entering the race, Jones was at 283 with Urrutia on 277, Stoneman on 259, Serralles 255, Kaiser 245 and Veach 238.
Indy Lights is off until Watkins Glen on Labor Day weekend.
With that, it wraps our TSO Ladder coverage for the weekend from Mid-Ohio – we thank you for your reads and your support.