By Tony DiZinno
In case you missed it or need a quick refresher on this morning’s first two sessions, here’s a link to results from qualifying for the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires races.
These races occur later this afternoon at 2:45 p.m. and 3:35 p.m. ET and local time, respectively. They are the second and third races of the day for the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires as part of the Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Since our last update, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires have qualified for its first race, and USF2000 and Pro Mazda have qualified for their second races. Indy Lights is the first race of the day at 1:30 p.m. ET. These session reports are below.
O’Ward beats Herta to Race One Pole
A back-and-forth scrap between the two emerging Andretti Autosport rivals in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires saw Patricio “Pato” O’Ward edge teammate Colton Herta in qualifying for Friday’s first race of the weekend.
While Herta in the No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing car held the top spot for most of the session and looked set to secure the pole, O’Ward pipped him near the end of the 45-minute session in his bright green and white No. 27 car.
O’Ward’s best time was just 0.032 of a second ahead of Herta (1:15.4255 to 1:15.4575).
This is O’Ward’s third pole of the season (Herta and Aaron Telitz have the other two), but fourth time in five races he’ll start from the top spot as he inherited P1 on the grid at St. Petersburg after Telitz’s pre-race accident.
“It was, man. I knew he’d be really fast and the Andretti team would give me a great car. I decided to bolt on new (sticker) Cooper Tires and think the grip would be there, and it was,” O’Ward told the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network’s Dave Furst.
“It was just good enough to put me on the pole. It’s hard to keep the same rhythm or procedure… sometimes it’s there and sometimes not. So this was a bit of a waiting game, but I’m super excited.”
O’Ward entered the weekend with a 16-point lead over Santiago Urrutia and 27 points over Herta, and will add to that with the bonus point for pole position.
Victor Franzoni will start third in the lone Juncos Racing entry ahead of the first of two Belardi Auto Racing drivers, Aaron Telitz. Urrutia completed the top five in the second Belardi car, yet was only 0.3863 of a second off the pace.
Franzoni (2017) and O’Ward (2016) swept Pro Mazda weekends here the last two years, with both drivers looking to add Indy Lights wins to their resumes at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Today’s first race of the weekend goes green at 1:30 p.m. ET and local time.
Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires – First qualifying results
Same day qualifying double for Kirkwood at IMS
Friday’s two rounds of qualifying for Rounds 3 and 4 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda was twice as nice for Kyle Kirkwood.
After scoring the pole in the morning session, Kirkwood followed up this afternoon with another pole on the same day.
As the temperatures increased the times slowed, so Kirkwood’s best time of 1:25.0252 was several tenths of a second slower than his morning time of 1:24.7694.
The Cape Motorsports driver was still 0.4206 clear of the field though, a seriously impressive margin considering that only 0.214 of a second covered the top six in the morning.
Prior to Kirkwood’s flyer on his eighth of 10 laps this session, he had a razor thin margin over Alex Baron of Swan-RJB Motorsports. It had been only 0.0015 of a second.
Baron fell to third at the end as Lucas Kohl of Pabst Racing leapt up to second, at 1:25.4458.
BN Racing’s Jamie Caroline will start fourth for race two, with Rasmus Lindh the second Pabst car in the top five.
Like this morning, more than half the field was covered less than a second. The top 14 drivers were within 0.9857 of a second.
Saturday’s second race of the weekend will go green at 9:15 a.m. ET and local time.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Second Qualifying Results
|14||80||Julian Van der Watt||1:26.011||0.9857||10|
Two quick Pro Mazda notes confirmed since our last update. As expected, David Malukas was assessed a penalty at the end of the session for staying out past the checkered flag. Pursuant to Rule 8.5.7, the BN Racing driver was penalized two starting positions, and will roll off fourth rather than second in race one. Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson, meanwhile, was able to get back out running for the second session after an apparent mechanical issue limited him to two laps in session one.
Askew withstands challenges for second pole of the day
A frantic 20-minute qualifying session for the second Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires race of the weekend sees Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew on pole for the second time.
But Askew withstood pressure from a number of challengers, as the top seven cars were separated by just 0.2147 of a second around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
There wasn’t much running in the first 12 minutes in the 20-minute session, but track activity picked up after most teams bolted on fresh sets of Cooper Tires stickers in the final eight minutes.
Askew had a 1:20.5864, only 0.0371 ahead of Harrison Scott, heading into the final runs. Then things started changing rapidly.
Carlos Cunha was first to beat that time at 1:20.3830, but only briefly before Askew regained the provisional pole at 1:20.3376, 0.0454 of a second clear.
Rinus VeeKay got to within just 0.0081 of a second to slot up to P2, just behind Askew, which is where he’ll start race one.
Robert Megennis then went 1:20.2875 to go P1, but only briefly before David Malukas topped that time at 1:20.2612.
With just under two minutes left, the top seven are separated by only 0.1949 of a second.
Malukas went quicker still at 1:20.2289 but not for long, as Scott jumped to P1 with a 1:20.1936.
Askew answered with a 1:20.1683, which stood as the pole time by 0.0253 of a second.
The order after this chaotic changing of the leaderboard is Askew, Scott, Malukas, Megennis, VeeKay, Thompson and Cunha all covered by just over two tenths of a second. These seven drivers represent five teams: Cape Motorsports, RP Motorsport Racing, BN Racing, Juncos Racing and Exclusive Autosport.
The pair of Team Pelfrey cars, Andres Gutierrez and Sting Ray Robb, were eighth and ninth with the second RP Motorsport Racing entry of Ludovico Laurini completing the top 10.
The second Pro Mazda race of the weekend is at 10:10 a.m. ET and local time on Saturday.
Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires – Second Qualifying Results
|9||82||Sting Ray Robb||1:20.791||0.6232||12|
After raising $6,000 during the Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America last year, the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires paddock hopes to raise double that amount over the next few days. You can do your part by donating here —>please make a donation in the #RaceToEndLupus
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