By Steve Wittich
Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire rookie Parker Thompson will be making his 50th career Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires start and will start on the pole for the eighth time.
The 20-year-old’s lap of 66.297 seconds lowered the track record that he set yesterday, and is his first Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires track record.
“It feels unbelievable. I’ve been on the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires for some time now, and I’ve yet to put my name beside a track record,” said Thompson with a huge smile on his face. “So, hopefully, that holds up for the rest of the weekend. That’s pretty cool to etch my name into Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires record books until next year.”
The four quickest drivers in the second qualifying session were the same as the first session Friday, but Thompson is the only driver to qualify in the same position.
David Malukas, a BN Racing rookie, will start outside of Thompson, his third straight race with a top three qualifying effort
Sophomore Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing) and rookie Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport) will start on the second row of the 25 lap race.
The second Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire qualifying session began at 8:30 am and followed a Porsche GT3 Cup qualifying session.
With the chilly morning temperatures, it took the drivers about three laps to get up to speed, and the first driver to top the timing screen was yesterday’s pole sitter Thompson. Thompson and fellow rookie Harrison Scott traded the quickest lap in the first 10 minutes of the session.
The top ten drivers at the halfway point of the 20-minute session were: Parker Thompson, Harrison Scott, David Malukas, Oliver Askew, Rinus VeeKay, Andres Gutierrez, Rafa Martins, Robert Megennis, Carlos Cunha and Sting Ray Robb.
Before that halfway point of the session, drivers started to come to pit road to the attention of their crews. A few adjustments for the changing track and fresh set of stick Cooper Tire slicks was the call for most of the 15 cars.
The only driver to not take to the track in the first half of the session was Cape Motorsports veteran Nikia Lastochkin, who’s No. 8 Cape Motorsports sat on pit road with the engine cover off. The team was able to get the car started and ended up with the 12th quickest lap.
It took a number laps for the drivers to get their tires up to temperature, and the first driver to go quicker was Juncos Racing rookie Robert Megennis, who snagged the provisional pole.
With six minutes left, Scott was the first driver to turn a sub 77-second lap, besting the track record. The next driver to go to the top of the timing screen was Carlos Cunha.
The Brazilian’s spot as the provisional pole sitter didn’t last long. Thompson was able to go almost four-tenths of a second quicker than Cunha and lower his track record from Friday’s qualifying session.
The session ended just under a minute early when the No. 2 Juncos Racing machine of current championship leader Rinus VeeKay came to a stop on the side of the track at the exit of the Museum Corner (Turn 9). VeeKay will start Sunday’s second race on the inside of the fifth row.
Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying #2
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||90||Parker Thompson||Exclusive Autosport||1:16.297||–.—-|
|2||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||1:16.661||0.3639|
|3||1||Carlos Cunha||Juncos Racing||1:16.661||0.3644|
|4||10||Harrison Scott||RP Motorsport Racing||1:16.689||0.3925|
|5||80||Rafael Martins||Team Pelfrey||1:16.874||0.5767|
|6||81||Andres Gutierrez||Team Pelfrey||1:16.993||0.6963|
|7||3||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports||1:17.039||0.7419|
|8||9||Robert Megennis||Juncos Racing||1:17.069||0.7718|
|9||2||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||1:17.171||0.874|
|10||82||Sting Ray Robb||Team Pelfrey||1:17.172||0.8748|
|11||11||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||1:17.622||1.3256|
|12||8||Nikita Lastochkin||Cape Motorsports||1:17.795||1.4979|
|13||27||Lodovico Laurini||RP Motorsport Racing||1:17.902||1.6055|
|14||78||Kris Wright||BN Racing||1:18.185||1.8884|
|15||91||Antonio Serravalle||Exclusive Autosport||1:18.915||2.6183|
|16||83||Charles Finelli||BN Racing/Fatboy Racing||1:23.826||7.5289|
The first of two 45 minute races at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend will roll off at 12:50 pm.
Don’t miss any of the action:
• live timing – Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, and IndyCar Race Control
• on twitter –Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, Cooper Tire, Mazda Racing and TSO Ladder
• via the Road To Indy TV app – Android or Apple iOS
• on all social media channels via the #TeamCooperTire and #MRTI hashtags