The 400th Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire race was won by second generation Indy Lights competitor Colton Herta. The Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing rookie, who’s Dad Bryan won the 1993 Indy Lights title, led all 35 laps and cruised to a comfortable 9.145 second win over Kyle Kaiser.
Herta also received a unique trophy for winning the 400th race.
— Indy Lights (@IndyLights) April 23, 2017
The second place finish was the second in a row for Kaiser, who solidified his spot directly behind Herta in the championship.
After winning Saturday, Jamin stood two steps lower on the podium, but did move into third place in the season long chase for the $1 Million Mazda Motorsports Scholarship and a guaranteed seat in three Verizon IndyCar Series including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
Herta, who started on pole after qualifying was cancelled due to rain and the grid was set by points, beat yesterday’s pole sitter Kaiser to Turn 1. The 15 drivers were able to get through the first two corners cleanly before Zachary Claman DeMelo pushed wide in Turn 3 and made contact with the No. 3 Team Pelfrey car of Pato O’Ward. The two cars got hooked together and found themselves in the gravel trap. DeMelo was able to keep his No. 13 Mazda powered Dallara rolling, but, O’Ward need help from the Holmatro Safety Team to get re-fired and back on track. DeMelo was forced to come for repairs but ended up retiring after one lap. The car of O’Ward was also forced to retire with damage.
With qualifying cancelled this morning, 14 of the15 entries Mazda Indy Lights Grad Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tire all started on sticker Cooper Tire slicks. The drivers were afforded an extra warm-up lap to allow them to get some extra heat into their tires.
The top 10 when they crossed the line were: Colton Herta, Kyle Kaiser, Nico Jamin, Aaron Telitz, Neil Alberico, Nicolas Dapero, Dalton Kellett, Matheus Leist, Shelby Blackstock, and Santiago Urrutia.
The 35 lap race restarted on Lap 4 and Herta was able to jump out to a big lead as the cars rolled through the “Alabama Roller Coaster” single file.
On the Lap 5, Urrutia’s front wing just touched the rear of the Belardi Auto Racing red No. 51 of Blackstock while fighting for ninth. Urrutia looped the car, but was able to keep it fired, falling back to 13th. The striking black and gold ARROW sponsored No. 5 was forced to pit for that damaged front wing, falling a lap behind and finishing the race in a disappointing 13th.
Alberico, who gained one spot on the first lap was able to pass the 2016 Pro Mazda Champion Telitz for the fourth spot.
By Lap 10, Herta’s lead over Kaiser was a comfortable 2.3 seconds, while Jamin was another 1.5 seconds back.
Nearing the half-way point of the race, Dapero and Leist, a pair of rookies were putting extreme pressure on veteran Andretti Autosport pilot Kellet for sixth. Dapero, who’s sixth place finish was the best of his short four race career, was able to get by Kellet on Lap 17, and Leist was able get by Kellett on the very next lap.
With 10 laps remaining, Herta’s lead had grown to 5.2 seconds over Kaiser, who had Jamin three seconds behind him. Alberico, who was looking for his third podium on four races, was running quicker laps than Jamin. Alberico was able to close to within half-a-second of Saturday’s winner Jamin, but the American was not able to get by the Frenchman.
Jamin did tell TSO that he knew Alberico was coming, but was managing the gap and his tires just in case their was a late race yellow flag and restart.
Mazda Indy Lights Grad Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires Race #2 – recap and results.
|RANK||CAR #||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||GAP|
|1||98||Colton Herta||Andretti Steinbrenner Racing||1:14.731||35 laps|
|2||18||Kyle Kaiser||Juncos Racing||1:15.099||9.1465|
|3||27||Nico Jamin||Andretti Autosport||1:15.269||11.1006|
|5||9||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||1:15.404||18.3005|
|6||31||Nicolas Dapero||Juncos Racing||1:15.175||21.1618|
|8||51||Shelby Blackstock||Belardi Auto Racing||1:15.442||33.1064|
|9||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||1:15.739||35.4034|
|10||28||Dalton Kellett||Andretti Autosport||1:15.613||36.5591|
|11||2||Juan Piedrahita||Team Pelfrey||1:15.666||40.2940|
|13||5||Santi Urrutia||Belardi Auto Racing||1:14.577||69.8029|
|14||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||Carlin||2:06.743||-32 laps|
|15||3||Pato O’Ward||Team Pelfrey||2:10.140||-33 laps|
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire Series has the next two weekends off before a double header on the 2.439-mile, 14-Turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 12 and May 13, 2017.