Ed Jones, who ended his last race unconscious and in the tire barrier at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and gave up his ten ten race championship lead at the same time, began the single race weekend at Watkins Glen International on the right foot. Jones topped fellow championship contenders Zach Veach, Dean Stoneman, and Felix Serralles who were joined by Zachary Clamant de Melo in the top five.
The Juncos Racing duo of Zachary Claman de Melo and Kyle Kaiser were the early leaders during the first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire practice session. But, it was championship contender Jones who jumped to the top of the timing screen with 18 minutes left in the session. The sophomore driver was the first driver to break both the 1:35 and 1:34 mark. Jones was the only driver in the 1:33s and his lap of 1:33.959 is 2.8 seconds under the Watkins Glen International track record of 1:36.742, that was set in qualifying by Wade Cunningham during the 2007 event.
The 12 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire drivers took to the 3.37 mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International road course at 10am under sunny skies and crisp 60 degree temperatures. The entire 45-minute session ran green.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers Santiago Urrutia and Andre Negrao only went out for two installation laps before packing up for the morning.
Team manager Dave Higuera told IndyCar radio that because they have two 45-minute practice sessions instead of two 30-minute sessions, they decided to do most of their running in the afternoon session.
Urrutia explained to IndyCar Radio’s Rob Howden that because the team got through their test calendar on Tuesday they wanted to spend today working on qualifying simulations and would do that this afternoon.
One-third of the way through the 45 minute practice session and the running order was: Zachary Claman de Melo, Kyle Kaiser, Garett Grist, Zach Veach, Dean Stoneman, Shelby Blackstock, Dalton Kellett, Ed Jones, Neil Alberico, Santiago Urrutia, Andre Negrao, Felix Serralles.
Veach, who ended up with the second quickest time, told IndyCar radio that they had some unexpected tire wear during testing on Tuesday and that the unknown going into the race will make it challenging. The race #1 winner at Road America said that since the new track surface has so much grip, qualifying will come down to who trust their set-up and who can hang it out the most in one lap.
The No. 4 Carlin machine of Felix Serralles is sporting an exciting new livery this weekend, as SAP Software Solutions has joined. SAP is a E20+ billion business applications and technology, and we’ll have a picture of the car in our next update.
The full practice # 1 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire time-sheet
|5||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:34.856|
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire teams and drivers are back on track for their second 45 minute practice session at 2:30pm.
You can find previous reports here —>
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire at Watkins Glen International – preview
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The race will air on NBCSN on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 1pm (et) – right before the IndyCar race