By Steve Wittich
Make it four straight Pro Mazda road course wins for Rinus VeeKay, who led all 35 laps in Sunday’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products race.
“This is a tough place because the car moves around so much and you have to take some strange lines around the bumps,” explained the driver who won all four street course races in 2018. “I love it here.”
The hardest part of the race was the last lap with Oliver behind me and him being the fastest car. I just had to focus on getting good exits to the finish line!”
The pair of wins in Toronto moved the 17-year-old to within in a single point of Parker Thompson.
The points leader, Canadian Thompson, had a miserable weekend, finishing eighth in both races.
Capturing his second podium of the season was reigning USF2000 champion Oliver Askew. The Cape Motorsports rookie made some outstanding passes on his run from sixth to second, and he also ended up with the quickest lap of the race.
Finishing on the final step of the podium for the third time in 2018 was Robert Megennis.
After a lot of work and a few late nights, the eight cars that retired from yesterday’s Race #1 all started Sunday morning’s race. Impressive work by the dedicated crews.
Pro Mazda race #2 got started with VeeKay and Malukas next too each other, and they make it cleanly through Turn 1. Yesterday’s high-flyer Harrison Scott locked up the tires at the braking zone and went into the run-off. He would not be able to return.
The field got through Turn 3, with the race settling in for the next few laps. Up front, VeeKay was leading Megennis by 2.33 seconds with Malukas in third.
Drivers were stacked up running through Turns 8-9-10, and at the exit of Turn 11 just before beginning Lap 4, the No. 27 of Raul Guzman tagged the wall in Turn 10 and collected the No. 82 of Andres Gutierrez.
The running order under yellow was: VeeKay, Megennis, Malukas, Robb, Askew, Cunha, Thompson, Lastochkin, Wright, Serravalle, Finelli, Gutierrez, Guzman and Scott.
It took the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team a number of laps to clean up all of the debris and fluid had been dropped.
They tried to go green for Lap 11, but the clean-up crew was still on Princes’ Boulevard, and the yellow flag remained out, meaning the race would be timed.
The Green flag came back out with 25 minutes remaining, and VeeKay was able to pull a big gap on his chasers.
At the end of the first lap back to green, VeeKay’s lead was 1.8 seconds over Megennis. The rest of the running order was Malukas, Askew, Robb, Cunha, Thompson, Lastochkin, Wright, Serravalle and Finelli.
With 20 minutes remaining, Oliver Askew got around Megennis for third, and Cunha, Thompson, and Lastochkin got by Robb. It appeared that Robb and Thompson made contact and the No. 90 black and red car was forced to pit road. The Exclusive Autosport crew looked over the car and sent the Canadian back out on the track.
With 16 minutes remaining, Askew was the quickest driver on track and was able to get by Megennis for second place. The Soul Red #3 was 6.6 seconds behind VeeKay after making the pass for second and took off after the Dutchman.
“The Cape Motorsports guys gave me a super-fast car and things just worked out as the race progressed,” said Askew after the physical race. “I’m relieved to finally get back on the podium – just still missing that win. I like street courses because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like to be smooth and precise, and that style of driving works here. I like being close to the walls. The best feeling in racing for me is being in the zone, clicking off laps and figuring out where to go faster and I got back in that zone in this race. It’s been frustrating at times this season, but that’s why I’m on the Mazda Road to Indy, to learn – and adversity is part of that.”
Further back, Megennis, Malukas, and Cunha were nose-to-tail for the final spot on the podium.
With 12 minutes remaining, Askew was running laps a half-second quicker than VeeKay and had cut the lead to 5.6 seconds.
Malukas was working over Megennis, trying in Turn 1, Turn 3 and Turn 5. Megennis was utilizing a defensive line, running the inside line into each passing zone, forcing the No. 79 to go around the outside.
With seven minutes to go, Cunha had a great run down the back straight going by Malukas, who appeared to have a wounded car and made a run around the outside of the Juncos Racing teammate for the final spot on the podium.
The Brazilian carried too much speed into Turn 3, making flush contact with the tire barriers with the left side of his car.
With 1.5 minutes left, the green flag came back out with VeeKay leading Askew to Turn 1. The Juncos Racing rookie was able to hold the American behind him, but a lock-up in Turn 3 on the final lap made the last eight corners interesting
Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products Unofficial Results Race #2
|7||82||Sting Ray Robb||15.3764|
|8||90||Parker Thompson||-2 laps|
|9||79||David Malukas||-6 laps|
|10||1||Carlos Cunha||-6 laps|
|11||91||Antonio Serravalle||-7 laps|
|12||81||Andres Gutierrez||-29 laps|
|13||27||Raul Guzman||-30 laps|
|14||10||Harrison Scott||-32 laps|
The Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire series is back on track for testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for testing next week in preparation for their race weekend on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit on July 27th – 29th.