By Steve Wittich
VeeKay is quicker than Pro Mazda track record at Gateway Motorsports Park
After a season-long battle in USF2000 last year, current Pro Mazda points leader Rinus VeeKay, and reigning USF2000 champion Oliver Askew should are used to trading quick laps. The pair swapped the fastest lap a number of times during the session, but it was VeeKay with a lap of 142.186 mph that ended with the quickest lap. Askew, Parker Thompson, Robert Megennis and David Malukas rounded out the top five.
VeeKay’s quick lap is almost 2mph faster than the Pro Mazda track record.
After a slight six hour and fifteen-minute delay, the Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tires series was able to get on track for practice at 5:45 pm. Off and on (more on) rain threw a wrench into Friday proceedings at Gateway Motorsports Park. The session began under cloudy skies, but by the end of the session at 6:15 pm, the sun was starting to peak out.
At the half-way mark of the 30-minute session, Askew with a lap at 139.270mph was the quickest driver. He was followed in the top five by VeeKay, Thompson, Megennis, and Scott.
With just over 10 minutes left in the session Askew was the first driver to go over the 140mph mark, and on the next lap, the reigning USF2000 champion broke 141mph., well quicker than the track record of 140.370mph set last year by Victor Franzoni.
Drivers came in for fresh Cooper Tires at varying times and it Juncos Racing sophomore VeeKay that was the first driver to go quicker than Askew, but by just seven-thousandths of a second. That’s 0.0007 seconds.
The entire session ran under green conditions and the 11 car field turned a total of 439 laps with 55-year-old Charles Finelli turning 50-laps.
Mazda St. Louis Pro Mazda Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires practice #1
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP (mph)||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||2||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||–.—-||37|
|2||3||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports||0.2009||41|
|3||90||Parker Thompson||Exclusive Autosport||0.6723||45|
|4||9||Robert Megennis||Juncos Racing||0.8057||35|
|5||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||0.8188||35|
|6||8||Nikita Lastochkin||Cape Motorsports||0.9613||49|
|7||10||Harrison Scott||RP Motorsport Racing||1.0153||34|
|8||12||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||1.0756||36|
|9||83||Charles Finelli||Fatboy Racing||1.2706||50|
|10||82||Sting Ray Robb||Team Pelfrey||1.4100||38|
|11||27||Mathias Soler-Obel||RP Motorsport Racing||1.8385||39|
Herta starts pivitol championship weekend off on the right foot
Colton Herta, who desperately needs to finish ahead of his teammate Patricio O’Ward started the race weekend off on the right foot by leading Friday’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires practice session with a quick lap of 161.432mph.
Like VeeKay in Pro Mazda, that lap was below the track record.
After the slightest break for some more deceleration lane drying efforts, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers took to the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval for a 30-minute practice. After a mostly grey day, the clouds over the St. Louis area began to part, and the sun started to come out.
Championship contenders Herta and O’Ward were the drivers at the head of the timesheet for the first half of the session. At the halfway point, the majority of the field was on pit road making adjustments. Herta, with a lap of 161.359mph, was the quickest driver at the half-way point. The second generation was joined in the top five by O’Ward, Ryan Norman, Santi Urrutia and Victor Franzoni.
That top 10 remained the same for the second half of the session.
Like the Pro Mazda practice, the entire 30 minutes were run under the green flag. The drivers turned a total of 293 laps. Belardi Auto Racing veteran Urrutia turned 46 laps, the most in the field.
Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires practice #1
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FASTEST LAP||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||98||Colton Herta||Andretti Steinbrenner Racing||161.432||43|
|2||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||161.032||45|
|3||27||Patricio O’Ward||Andretti Autosport||160.616||36|
|4||23||Victor Franzoni||Juncos Racing||159.841||40|
|5||5||Santi Urrutia||Belardi Auto Racing||159.432||46|
|6||28||Dalton Kellett||Andretti Autosport||158.788||40|
|7||9||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||158.737||43|
In our understanding, the track time situation for the top two rungs of the Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is fluid. There is the possibility that they will practice, qualifying or might go straight into the race. We don’t expect that decision to come until tomorrow morning.