By Steve Wittich
A blistering first lap of qualifying, the only lap above 140mph, gave Harrison Scott and RP Motorsport their first Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pole. Scott was emotional after championship leader Rinus VeeKay was not able to knock the Englishman from the top spot, celebrating enthusiastically with his RP Motorsport team.
“Unbelievable,” exclaimed Scott when TSO Ladder asked him about winning his first career pole in the United States. “I did not expect that at all. Honestly, we come here yesterday with only a 30 minute practice session, and a team, a whole unit the first time we ever set foot on an oval was at Lucas Oil Raceway Park (LORP).”
Championship leader VeeKay was the last driver on the track, but couldn’t knock off Scott and will start on the front row of a Pro Mazda race for the fifth race in a row and the seventh time this season.
Parker Thompson, who trails VeeKay by 25 points in the chase for the $790,300 Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship was not able to qualify. An electrical issue that cropped in the first practice was not able to be fixed in time to make their spot in the qualifying line. The No. 90 Exclusive Autosport machine will start shotgun on the field on the inside of the sixth row.
de la Vara was the first driver to take to the 1.25-mile oval under sunny skies and thick humidity at 11:30 AM on Saturday, August 25, 2018.
The Mexican driver turned in a two-lap average of 137.730 mph, which held the provisional pole until Scott’s pole run. The DEForce Racing driver’s two-lap average was only surpassed one more time, and the rookie will start his second ever oval race on the inside of the third row.
Scott was the sixth driver on track and withstood five attempts to knock him from the top of the timing screens. The 22-year-old driver turned a first lap of 140.191 mph, almost an entire mph over any other driver, but had a moment on his second lap.
(With a knowing laugh and big smile) “Yeah, said Scott. “I got to Turn 3 and Turn 4, and it was like I didn’t have any tires left, and the rear was coming away from me. I was just holding on and had to be hesitant as a result. The big first lap blew it away. Nobody else was even close to that lap.”
Scott, who was forced to miss the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course double-header, after a VERY tough weekend in Toronto finished his chat with TSO Ladder by telling us:
“I’m incredibly proud – from Toronto to here – emotionally it’s been very tough on me. I love this sport, and I want to be racing at the top. This is all I want to do.
“Coming from Toronto, which was a big set back. I did a lot of thing over the break. To come here and put it on pole shows what I can do and also what the team can do.”
Oliver Askew was the second quickest driver in practice on Friday and had the third fastest time in the morning session. Unfortunately, those on pit road could hear big lift and a squeal of his Cooper Tires in a Turn 2 moment. Askew will start the race in fifth.
David Malukas, who is fighting Askew for third place in the championship will start on the outside of reigning USF200 champion.
Championship leader VeeKay was the last driver on track and also the closest driver to knocking off Scott of the inside of the front row, but the Dutchman’s two-lap average of 139.551 was not able to get the job done.
Mazda St. Louis Pro Mazda Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUAL AVERAGE||GAP||LAP 1||LAP 2|
|1||10||Harrison Scott||RP Motorsport Racing||139.738||–.—-||140.191||139.287|
|2||2||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||139.551||0.0861||139.245||139.859|
|3||12||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||137.730||0.9387||136.969||138.500|
|4||9||Robert Megennis||Juncos Racing||137.691||0.9572||138.012||137.372|
|5||3||Oliver Askew||Cape Motorsports||136.782||1.3915||137.288||136.280|
|6||79||David Malukas||BN Racing||136.332||1.6088||136.459||136.206|
|7||27||Mathias Soler-Obel||RP Motorsport Racing||136.325||1.6121||135.709||136.947|
|8||82||Sting Ray Robb||Team Pelfrey||135.083||2.2191||135.442||134.727|
|9||8||Nikita Lastochkin||Cape Motorsports||134.781||2.3686||134.602||134.960|
|10||83||Charles Finelli||Fatboy Racing||133.660||2.9287||133.848||133.473|
The 55 lap race is scheduled to roll off at 3:45 pm (local).