The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series hasn’t had as much track time as the other two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder, Pro Mazda and USF2000, through today’s first practice and qualifying sessions. One of Indy Lights’ two test sessions on Thursday was rain affected and by the time Indy Lights was out for the first time on Thursday, it had came after Pro Mazda, USF2000 and the headlining Verizon IndyCar Series had all been on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Quick recaps of practice and qualifying before race one are below.
In a 30-minute qualifying session held this afternoon, but limited after an accident that caused a red flag, Nico Jamin has captured the pole position for today’s fifth round of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.
The driver of the slightly revised livery for Andretti Autosport, the No. 27 DuraMAX Powered by RelaDyne Dallara IL-15 Mazda otherwise sponsored by Synova, has the top spot with a best time of 1:15.2443.
On the front row in a surprise second place is Canadian teenager Zachary Claman De Melo in the No. 13 Carlin entry. Claman De Melo has several fourth place finishes in his Indy Lights career but has never stood on a podium. He slotted in with a best time of 1:15.3755.
Neil Alberico, Carlin’s leading driver this year, put the Rising Star Racing-supported No. 22 entry into third on the grid ahead of fellow Californian Kyle Kaiser, who led practice this morning for Juncos Racing.
The other two winners beyond Jamin this year, Colton Herta and Aaron Telitz, slot in sixth and eighth on the grid.
Unfortunately Juan Piedrahita’s quest to make his 100th career start on the Mazda Road to Indy may have been dealt a setback with an accident in qualifying. The Colombian driver of the No. 2 Team Pelfrey entry lost control exiting Turn 4 going into Turn 5, with TSO understanding the car has likely suffered significant wing, right side and suspension damage. It will make a long bit of work ahead for the Gary Neal-led team in the quest to see Piedrahita out for today’s first race of the weekend, or if not then, for tomorrow’s second race of the weekend. Team Pelfrey is down to one car this weekend anyway with Pato O’Ward not continuing into the doubleheader weekend.
The race runs within the one-hour window from 5:50 to 6:50 p.m. this evening.
|2||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:15.376|
Prior to qualifying, Indy Lights held its only 45-minute practice session Friday morning, following both USF2000 and Pro Mazda qualifying and then the first of two Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions.
Kyle Kaiser looks to add his name to the winners list in Indy Lights this season and topped this first official session of the weekend, in the No. 18 Juncos Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda at 1:15.1190.
Fellow California native and series points leader Colton Herta, in the No. 98 Andretti/Steinbrenner Racing entry, was second at 1:15.3540.
Belardi Auto Racing’s pair of Santiago Urrutia and Shelby Blackstock were next up, with Urrutia jumping to third right near the end of the session. Piedrahita of Team Pelfrey was fifth, thus making it four of the five teams in the top five.
The best of four Carlin entries was only Zachary Claman De Melo in seventh. Another driver who struggled this session was Belardi’s Aaron Telitz, only 12thh of the 14 drivers entered.
Qualifying was next up for Indy Lights, which ran from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m.
|7||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:15.612|