By Tony DiZinno
Welcome to Round 7 of the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires and Round 5 of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda seasons, from Lucas Oil Raceway just outside Indianapolis right at the Clermont/Brownsburg border.
Remember that tonight, there are 50 percent more points on offer for what will be the first of two oval races for Pro Mazda and the first and only USF2000 oval race this season.
It was a mad scramble to get out of Indianapolis Motor Speedway by 2:15 p.m. from Carb Day and after a crazy Freedom 100 for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, and off to Lucas Oil Raceway, but I made it here halfway through USF2000 qualifying about 2:55 p.m.
A couple surprises greeted us upon our return here to the track for the first time in two years. For one, the usual gate we enter near the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires paddock on the south side of the track, near Turn 2, is closed. That means a quick detour to head north to the main entrance. This then means a longer drive back inbound once in the circuit and to a number of different potential parking spots near the Lucas Oil Raceway road course, near Turn 4.
The second surprise was literally earth-shaking and ground-pounding. Some drag race testing is happening behind us on the Lucas Oil Raceway drag strip. So, naturally, this is quite a bit louder than what we’re hearing with open-wheel cars.
MRTI’s own one-night “Field of 33”
There are two scratches to the projected fields. Aaron Telitz’s planned “Carb Day Double” won’t happen as ArmsUp Motorsports will run a single car only for Mazda Motorsports Scholarship recipient Keith Donegan in USF2000. Meanwhile Kris Wright is a no-go in Pro Mazda in the second BN Racing car.
This leaves 21 Tatuus USF-17 Mazdas and 12 Tatuus PM-18 Mazdas, respectively, for the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires’ own personal “Field of 33” at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.
Quick practice notes and times
Following the Mazda Road to Indy Oval Summit, it was time to be on track on Thursday afternoon for testing and practice.
Practice took place last night for both USF2000 and Pro Mazda, to be closer to race conditions.
Both points leaders led their respective sessions with Parker Thompson (Pro Mazda) and Kyle Kirkwood (USF2000) on top.
Kirkwood topples the Pabst posse
In USF2000, it was looking like Pabst Racing would have a 1-2 on the grid, but Kyle Kirkwood spoiled the party right at the end for Cape Motorsports.
The past Team USA Scholarship recipient laid down two laps at 98.568 and 98.442 mph to have a two-lap average of 98.505 mph.
Pabst will roll off second and third with Rasmus Lindh and Lucas Kohl. Kohl has one past start here in 2016.
Keith Donegan has a career-best fourth spot on the grid at a track that plays to ArmsUp Motorsports’ engineer John Walko’s strengths.
Pabst’s third of four drivers, Kaylen Frederick, completes the top five.
Points leader Alex Baron will roll off from eighth place in the Swan-RJB Motorsports entry.
The Freedom 75 will go green at 6:05 p.m. and run until 6:45 p.m.
Cooper Tires Freedom 75 – Unofficial Qualifying Results
|1||8||Kyle Kirkwood||Cape Motorsports||98.505||98.568||98.442|
|2||23||Rasmus Lindh||Pabst Racing||98.443||98.144||98.744|
|3||22||Lucas Kohl||Pabst Racing||98.175||98.042||98.308|
|4||30||Keith Donegan||ArmsUp Motorsports||97.575||97.690||97.460|
|5||24||Kaylen Frederick||Pabst Racing||97.569||97.833||97.306|
|6||36||Darren Keane||Newman Wachs Racing||97.565||97.669||97.462|
|7||91||Igor Fraga||Exclusive Autosport||97.559||97.479||97.639|
|8||19||Alex Baron||Swan-RJB Motorsports||97.428||97.050||97.808|
|9||80||Julian Van der Watt||Team Pelfrey||97.338||97.149||97.528|
|10||12||Jose Sierra||DEForce Racing||97.264||97.833||96.703|
|11||11||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||97.231||97.918||96.553|
|12||21||Calvin Ming||Pabst Racing||97.046||96.905||97.188|
|13||10||Zach Holden||DEForce Racing||96.580||96.407||96.753|
|14||5||Mathias Soler-Obel||Sol.O Racing||96.458||96.611||96.304|
|15||90||Manuel Cabrera||Exclusive Autosport||95.925||95.015||96.853|
|16||27||Colin Kaminsky||DEForce Racing||95.576||95.398||95.755|
|17||37||David Osborne||Newman Wachs Racing||95.157||95.125||95.189|
|18||82||Bruna Tomaselli||Team Pelfrey||94.860||93.969||95.768|
|19||29||Russell McDonough||BN Racing||94.617||94.364||94.872|
|20||38||Oscar DeLuzuriaga||Newman Wachs Racing||94.048||94.123||93.972|
|21||81||Kyle Dupell||Team Pelfrey||93.383||92.969||93.802|
Parker Thompson parks it on pole for Exclusive
For Pro Mazda, Juncos Racing found itself in the similar place as Pabst Racing – it looked like they’d have three of the top four positions, before the last driver to run knocked them off pole.
In this case it was two-time Lucas Oil Raceway starter in USF2000, Parker Thompson of Exclusive Autosport, who pulled off the pole speed at 107.764 mph.
Juncos fell to second with Carlos Cunha at 106.826 mph, then David Malukas in third in the BN Racing entry and the two other Juncos cars of Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis.
RP Motorsport Racing’s Harrison Scott will start sixth for his oval debut while Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew will start eighth, behind the lone Team Pelfrey car of Sting Ray Robb.
Cooper Tires Freedom 90 – Unofficial Qualifying Results
|1||90||Parker Thompson||Exclusive Autosport||107.264||106.816||107.716|
|2||1||Carlos Cunha||Juncos Racing||106.726||106.423||107.031|
|3||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||106.129||106.219||106.039|
|4||9||Robert Megennis||Juncos Racing||105.530||105.774||105.286|
|5||2||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||105.375||105.569||105.182|
|6||10||Harrison Scott||RP Motorsport Racing||105.256||105.154||105.358|
|7||82||Sting Ray Robb||Team Pelfrey||105.210||104.925||105.497|
|8||3||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports||104.428||104.373||104.483|
|9||27||Lodovico Laurini||RP Motorsport Racing||103.484||103.500||103.467|
|10||91||Antonio Serravalle||Exclusive Autosport||103.167||102.962||103.374|
|11||8||Nikita Lastochkin||Cape Motorsports||103.087||103.523||102.655|
|12||83||Charles Finelli||BN Racing/Fatboy Racing||101.983||101.818||102.148|
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