By Tony DiZinno
Scott beats Askew, VeeKay in chaotic first race
The third and final Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires race of Friday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course nearly had as many twists and turns as the 14-turn, 2.439-mile track itself.
When all was said and done, Harrison Scott secured his second straight victory in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires competition driving for RP Motorsport Racing, after a chaotic race where he started third and ultimately got past for the final time with 10 laps to go. Today’s 25-lap race marked Round 5 of the Pro Mazda season and the first of two races in the Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America.
Polesitter Oliver Askew of Cape Motorsports lost the lead on the opening lap and wound up needing to rebound from an off course excursion.
Meanwhile what looked like Rinus VeeKay’s third win of the year went away when he lost the lead prior to the second full-course caution of the race.
Askew went into the grass in Turns 1 and 2 on the opening lap and dropped from the lead down to seventh. This opened the door for VeeKay, who’d started second, to move to the lead.
At the end of the first lap, VeeKay held the lead over Juncos Racing teammate Carlos Cunha, who’d advanced from sixth to second. Scott was third, with David Malukas fourth for BN Racing and Robert Megennis fifth in another Juncos entry.
Megennis had a mechanical issue that took him out of the race on Lap 6, and brought out the first full course caution.
The race restarted shortly afterwards and Malukas passed into the lead on Lap 8.
The pass for the lead was “too” good though. On Lap 10, Malukas was assessed a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits to advance to the lead. This took him back from the lead to 11th place, and promoted VeeKay back to the lead.
The order on the aforementioned Lap 10 was VeeKay, Scott, Askew, who’d since recovered from his opening lap, Thompson fourth and Cunha fifth.
Scott began closing the gap to VeeKay and got within 0.3697 of a second by Lap 14.
The Englishman seized the opportunity by going around the outside of VeeKay into Turn 1 and completed the takeover for the lead by the end of Lap 16.
A full-course caution flew when Andres Gutierrez suffered an engine expiration coming down the front straight, and the driver of the No. 81 Team Pelfrey car parked on driver’s right on the inside.
That put the race under yellow for four laps.
Following the restart, Askew got past VeeKay for second. Meanwhile Thompson, who’d had a chaotic day of his own with an engine expiration in the morning session and then a rapid engine change conducted by the Exclusive Autosport crew, then lost his engine cover down the front straight. A track worker cleared the debris, and Thompson was good to go to the finish.
On Lap 22, Scott led by just 0.2969 of a second from Askew. Scott feared that by being the leader on the restart he would be vulnerable to pressure, but was able to withstand the challenge.
Scott held on to take the victory by 0.3834 of a second over Askew, with VeeKay back on the podium in third after missing the podium both races at Barber Motorsports Park.
Cunha and Thompson completed the top five.
Heading into tomorrow’s second race of the weekend, it’s a really tight bunch at the top of the standings. VeeKay has 104 points, Thompson 102 and Scott 98.
Pro Mazda’s second race of the weekend goes green at 10:10 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires – Race #1 Unofficial Results
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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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