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After coming so close to taking pole at his home race last year, Santa Clarita, California’s Kyle Kaiser will start on pole for this afternoon’s Indy Lights Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Cooper Tires.

Kaiser explained that yesterday was the lowest grip he had ever felt at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and he was happy that the track gripped up this morning and that team made massive improvements on the third set of tires, picking up a full second.

This is Kaiser’s third pole of the year but his first since the oval race at Phoenix International Raceway in April.

For most of the session, it was Carlin sophomore Ed Jones who held the provisional pole, and the bonus point was something that the 21 year-old was aiming for, but the No. 11 Carlin machine fell only one-tenth of a second.

Jones said that he was comfortable on the first two-sets of tires, but the third set of tires had a different balance and he went off course at the Corkscrew (Turn 8) on his quickest lap of the day. The Dubai, UAE native said he was happy that he will be starting ahead of his closest championship contender.

Championship leader Santiago Urrutia was pushing hard on his final lap just after the checkered flag flew, but the Soul Red No. 55 kicked up a dust storm as he dropped two wheels at Turn 4.

Last week’s winner at Watkins Glen International, Zach Veach will start outside the the second row.

Dean Stoneman, who is third in the championship will start in eighth.

Qualifying for the Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Cooper Tires double-header began promptly at 10:10am with 14 of the 15 Mazda turbo-charged Dallaras immediately taking to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course.

Local favorite Kaiser was quickest after the first hot lap with a lap at just over 1:18, but times started to quickly fall and after three hot laps the top five were: Jones, Alberico, Serralles and Urrutia.

Sports car star Rayhall was the last driver to hit the circuit, waiting until most of the other drivers had turned three laps. The 21 year-old was able but the quickly got up to speed reaching the fourth spot on the timing sheet on only his third lap of the session. On lap 4, Rayhall went even quicker, taking over the top spot with a scorching lap of 1:16.2629.

The top five with ten minutes gone in the 30 minute session were: Jones, Kaiser, Alberico, Serralles and Veach.

Times began to fall quickly in the second half of the session after teams made changes to their cars.

Kaiser was the first driver to hold provisional pole in the last 15 minutes, but was quickly bumped by Veach, who held the top spot for only a few minutes.

With 12 minutes left in the session, Jones retook the provisional pole with a lap of 1:15.698, the first sub 1:16 lap of the “Soul Red Finale” weekend.

With ten minutes left in the 30 minute session the top five were: Jones, Veach, Serralles, Kaiser and Rayhall.

At this point championship leader Urrutia was mired in seventh, almost a full second off the pace set by Jones, however it wasn’t long before the Uruguayan was able to jump up to third place where he remained until the

With five minutes to go times started to fall quickly and the action picked-up with Veach, Stoneman, Grist, Blackstock all improving on their times.

With three minutes left in the session, Kaiser was able to go to provisional pole with a lap of 1:15.669. Jones immediately went quicker and held the top spot for only a few seconds before Kaiser took back the top spot by improving to a lap time of 1:15.273 which was one-tenth of a second quicker then Jones.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire qualifying results

1 Kyle Kaiser 1:15.273 0.000
2 Ed Jones 1:15.390 -0.1171
3 Santiago Urrutia 1:15.476 -0.2031
4 Zach Veach 1:15.607 -0.3341
5 Felix Serralles 1:15.647 -0.3737
6 Sean Rayhall 1:15.827 -0.5538
7 Garett Grist 1:16.071 -0.7981
8 Dean Stoneman 1:16.081 -0.8079
9 Andre Negrao 1:16.082 -0.8085
10 Zachary Claman De Melo 1:16.129 -0.8555
11 Shelby Blackstock 1:16.225 -0.9522
12 Neil Alberico 1:16.368 -1.0951
13 Dalton Kellett 1:16.587 -1.314
14 Heamin Choi 1:17.758 -2.4844
15 Davey Hamilton Jr 1:21.047 -5.7733

The first of two Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend is scheduled for 3:10pm (PT) or 6:10pm (ET). Your options to follow along are:

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