By Steve Wittich
All seven Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers were within one second of the pole, but Patricio O’Ward still dominated on the way to his seventh pole of the 2018 season. It’s the 12th pole in his Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career.
“I was really trying to break the track record here, honestly, but I’m happy we’re starting from pole for Race 1,” said O’Ward. “I made a couple mistakes during the session that had I not made, I could’ve gotten closer to breaking it. I’m not sure if I would’ve been faster, but there were just a few extra ones that I wanted to get but it wasn’t quite enough. The car felt great and I’m really happy with the No. 27 Mazda.”
Ohio born Ryan Norman had the best qualifying effort of his Indy Lights career and will start beside his teammate on the front row.
Colton Herta will start behind O’Ward and will be joined on the second row by Belardi Auto Racing veteran Aaron Telitz.
Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires qualifying for Saturday’s race #1 began with increasing clouds and an ambient temperature of 74F and a track temperature of 100F.
The first ten minutes of the session had the driving utilizing used Cooper Tire rubber.
But, with 15 minutes left in the session drivers started to make their way to pit road for adjustments and new sticker Cooper Tire rubber.
At the halfway point of the session, O’Ward held the provisional pole with a lap of 71.9777 seconds, which was a full six-tenths of a second ahead of Colton Herta. The remainder of the order was Telitz, Kellett, Urrutia, Norman, and Franzoni.
With 12 minutes remaining, the No. 9 bright Belardi red machine of Telitz reported making contact with Kellett and spun off track in Turn 6. The Wisconsin driver was able to bring the car back to pit road, put on fresh Cooper Tires change the front wing and head back onto the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course to attempt to defend his third spot.
With seven minutes remaining the tires started to come up to temperature and lap times began to drop.
With five minutes left in the session, O’Ward was six-tenths of a second ahead of Herta.
Both of the championship contenders continued to get faster over the next three laps, but Herta could get no closer to O’Ward than 0.5 seconds.
Norman moved to second on his penultimate lap and was able to go even quicker on his last lap.
Cooper Tires Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Powered by Mazda Unofficial Qualifying #1 Results
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These drivers will back on track on Saturday at 9:20 AM for another qualifying session.
The Indy Lights race will air on NBCSN Tuesday (July 31, 2018) at 6 PM.