By Steve Wittich
An emotional Victor Franzoni put together a lap of 113.188 seconds to put his Mazda powered Soul Red No. 23 from Juncos Racing on pole for first of two Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend.
We are a team,” exclaimed Franzoni to the ADVANCE Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network. “We work together; We win together; We lose together. Today we won qualifying together.”
Last weekend, the 22-year-old lost last year’s Pro Mazda teammate and mentor Jeff Green in an on-track incident in a vintage F5000 race at Canadian Tire Motorsports, and later in the week, he drove straight through from Miami, Fla. to Indianapolis, Ind. His new home.
The pole is Franzoni’s first in Indy Lights and ninth across his entire Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career. The reigning Pro Mazda champion has now won a pole in all three series.
Santi Urrutia, who trimmed out before his final run, ended up less than a tenth-of-a-second off pole will start on the outside of the front row, his best starting spot of the year.
Andretti Autosport drivers have started on pole in six of eight races this year, but the best they could do was the second row. Championship leader Colton Herta and teammate Patricio O’Ward will start behind Franzoni and Urrutia.
The session began seven hours after the lone Indy Lights practice session.
Dalton Kellett had an issue in Turn 14 with 10 minutes gone in the session, causing a local yellow. The Andretti Autosport veteran was able to keep going, and the track remained green.
Franzoni was on the provisional pole at the half-way point of the half-hour session. He was followed by Colton Herta, Santi Urrutia, Aaron Telitz, Patricio O’Ward, Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett.
At that point of the session, all seven drivers came to pit road for adjustments and fresh Cooper Tire slicks.
It took a couple of laps for the drivers to get their tires up to temperature and laps started to drop with five minutes remaining, giving the drivers only two or three hot laps to find that perfect lap.
Herta, Telitz, Norman, and Kellet were the first drivers to improve their lap times, but it didn’t’ take long for the remaining drivers to go quicker.
Provisional Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race #1 qualifying results
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