By Steve Wittich
Combine the fact that a dozen of the fifteen Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has come from the front row with a seven point gap between points leader Parker Thompson and second place Rinus VeeKay and qualifying takes on a lot of importance.
Double winner at Toronto, Rinus VeeKay continued his hot streak and will start on the pole for the third straight race and fourth time in 2018. The 17-year-old will begin Saturday’s first race six points behind Thompson.
It’s the fourth pole on the 2.258-Mile, 13-Turn Road Course for Juncos Racing which breaks a three-way tie with Cape Motorsports and Team Pelfrey for team poles at the Lexington, Ohio track.
The Dutch driver’s quick lap of 75.446 seconds obliterated the track record of 78.1385 seconds set by Nico Jamin in qualifying in 2016.
Thompson will start right behind VeeKay in on the inside of the second row.
David Malukas, who won the last two Pro Mazda races on natural terrain circuits will start outside of VeeKay. VeeKay’s Juncos Racing teammates Carlos Cunha and Robert Megennis will start fourth and fifth, with reigning USF2000 champion Oliver Askew starting on the outside of the third row.
Mathias Soler-Obel, who is making the step up from USF2000 with RP Motorsport this weekend will start seventh with an impressive lap only seven-tenths of the pole.
The third of three straight Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying sessions began promptly at 2 PM under sunny skies.
Oliver Askew was forced to sit out the first quarter of the session for
Just before the halfway mark of the 20-minute session, the field began to come to pit road for fresh Cooper Tires and adjustment. The Juncos Racing trio were the first drivers to head back out on the track.
After ten minutes, Thompson held the provisional pole and the next nine drivers were: VeeKay, Malukas, Askew, Sting Ray Robb, Mathias Soler-Obel, Cunha, Andres Gutierrez, Megennis, and Felipe Drugovich.
With six minutes left on the clock, times started to drop quickly with VeeKay grabbing the provisional pole.
With only a few seconds left before the session went checkered, Malukas was able to grab the provisional pole, but that only last for a few seconds when VeeKay crossed the timing line right behind him.
The top six drivers all turned their quickest laps on their final laps of the qualifying session
Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Unofficial Qualifying #1 Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|8||82||Sting Ray Robb||1:16.268||0.8218|
|12||12||Moises de la Vara||1:17.088||1.6416|
The Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire series is back on track for their second qualifying session at 11 AM on Saturday.