For the sixth time in his last seven visits to the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Nico Jamin made a visit to the top step of the podium.
This was the third win of the season for the 21 year-old driver from Rouen, France, and the fifth of the year for his Andretti Autosport team.
The 38-lap Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Powered by Mazda got under way when pole sitter Colton Herta quickly got to the gas as he and Urrutia entered the start zone, and it appears that Herta caught the sophomore Uruguayan a little off guard.
Herta easily led the 14 car field to Turn 1, and his No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing car was followed closely by his teammate Jamin, who was able pass Urrutia for second.
On the field’s first run down to Turn 4, Jamin made a power move around the outside of Turn 4, leaving him on the preferred line in Turn 5 and allowing him to grab the lead for the first time.
Further back in the field, Dalton Kellett and Garth Rickards made contact exiting Madness. Both drivers were able to keep going, but Rickards was forced to retire with damage, and Kellet finished one lap down.
The top 10 at the completion of the hectic first lap were: Jamin, Herta, Urrutia, Shelby Blackstock, Nicolas Dapero, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Juan Piedrahita, Ryan Norman, Kyle Kaiser, and Aaron Telitz.
Herta grabbed the lead back on the next lap, utilizing his push-to-pass to get by Jamin on the inside of Turn 4.
After the race, Jamin, Urrutia, and Blackstock all described the track as being super slippery for the first few laps, and on Lap 3, it was leader Herta who was caught out, losing the rear end going over the crest of the hill at the apex of Turn 10 and looping the car to the inside of the corner.
The rest of the field was able to safely get by Herta, and the second generation driver was able to keep the his turbo charged 2.0L Mazda power plant spooled up and got his car pointed in the right direction and was able to remain on the lead lap, but fell back to 12th.
With five laps complete, Jamin’s gap had grown to 1.7 seconds over Urrutia. Urrutia’s Belardi Auto Racing teammate was another 2.5 seconds in arrears.
Things remained fairly stagnant until Lucky Lap 13.
Dapero, Piedrahita, and Kaiser were battling for fifth, sixth and seventh when Piedrahita tried to get by Dapero in Turn 4, slowing both drivers, allowing Kaiser to enter the picture. Dapero held on to the fifth spot, but Piedranhita’s No. 2 had a late entry into Turn 5, creating a sliver of daylight that Kaiser unwisely drawn towards.
Kaiser was only able to get a quarter of his No. 18 beside Piedrahita’s No. 2 going over the hill in Turn 5, and both drivers spun into the grass on the inside of Madness. Both drivers were able to keep going, and ended up finishing outside of the top 10.
Despite a pair of 12th place finishes this weekend, Kaiser only gave up ten points to his closest championship contender. When the weekend began, the Californian began the weekend 52 points ahead of Matheus Leist, and after two disappointing races, has a 42 point gap to Colton Herta and Santiago Urrutia.
By the time the race hit Lap 21, Jamin was able to build a comfortable 2.7 second lead, but over the course of the next nine laps the 2016 Indy Lights vice-champion turned his quickest laps of the race and was able to cut the Frenchman’s lead to 0.7 seconds.
Jamin immediately responded and turned his quickest lap of the race on the 32nd lap of the race, growing the lead to just under a second.
Further back in the field, it was Herta, who was on a furious comeback drive, that was making the moves, passing Alberico, Norman, and Dapero in a five lap span, ending the race in sixth.
With five laps to go, Urrutia started to cut into Herta’s lead again, and looked outside of Jamin on the outside of Turn 4 with four laps remaining. Both drivers broke deeply and went through the banked right hander side-by-side, but Jamin was able to pull ahead in Turn 5.
Urrutia was not able to get close enough to Jamin over the last three laps, and had to settle for his 22nd second career MRTI podium.
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Powered by Mazda Race #2 Results
|1||27||Nico Jamin||38 laps|
|4||13||Zachary Claman De Melo||14.3358|
|12||18||Kyle Kaiser||-1 LAP|
|13||28||Dalton Kellett||– 1 LAP|
|14||11||Garth Rickards||-37 LAPS|