After 23 mostly sedate laps, the second Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Allied Building Products of the weekend triple-header was turned on it’s head.
Pole sitter Anthony Martin was able to get to the first turn before Victor Franzoni, who started outside of him. For the first 85% of the race, it was Martin, the reigning USF2000 champion, who held just under a one second lead over Franzoni, the current Pro Mazda points leader.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is notoriously tough to pass at, and Franzoni told us that: “I had a better car and I was faster in the middle of the race but it was another day that I was just stuck and I couldn’t do anything.”
On lap 15, the two leaders started catching lapped traffic, putting six different drivers a lap down before they caught Franzoni’s Juncos Racing teammate Jeff Green right at the entrance to “The Carousel.”
Martin went to the outside of Green, who got as far to the inside as he could at corner entry, the No. 60 Mazda powered machine remained on the inside line through the majority of the corner. The natural line is to open your hands to let the car track out at corner exit, but with Martin inside him, Green instead turned the steering wheel to the right. This unsettled the car and it looped around.
Martin took an evasive mover, going through the grass on the outside of Turn 12, and allowing Franzoni to squeeze inside the spinning car of Green and the Soul Red No. 8 of Martin.
“Victor was right on my tail the entire race. I tried to be conservative with the tires so I found a lap time that I was comfortable doing and tried to stick with that,” explained a disappointed Martin. “I knew that he wouldn’t be able to pass at those lap times. I looked in the mirrors to see where he was struggling versus where I was strong and tried to capitalize in those spots as much as I could. The race went well – I can’t thank Mazda and Cooper Tires enough, they give us everything we need to go out there and race, and the Cape guys gave me a great car as always. To set the fast time is always a good achievement. As far as what happened at the end of the race, getting put out by Victor’s teammate was not the way I wanted it to happen. It’s bad when lapped cars affect a championship.”
Green was not able to get going on his own, and the yellow flag came out. The Holmatro Safety Team was able to get him restarted and the green flag was shown at the same time as the white flag.
Franzoni was able to keep Franzoni behind him in the run to Turn 1, but Nikita Lastochkin, who was in the final podium spot, got swamped by his Team Pelfrey teammates Carlos Cunha and TJ Fischer and ended up finishing fifth.
Bob Kaminsky, who finished seventh overall won the National Class, and is now leading that championship.
Martin started the race three points in arrears of Martin in the chase for the $790,000. Because he won the pole, led the most laps, and had the quickest lap, Martin was able to limit the damage to two points, meaning Franzoni, who starts third will begin the race with a five point lead over Martin, who will start on pole.