From a competitive motocross rider to an Indy Lights race winner in only five years. Ryan Norman’s path to four-wheeled motorsports has not been conventional but has still been impressive.
Only three seasons ago the 20-year-old from Aurora, Ohio was competing in SCCA Formula Enterprise competition.
Norman’s first win came at the expense of his teammate Colton Herta who led the first 69 laps of the 75 lap race before settling for second place.
Herta did finish ahead of fellow Andretti Autosport rookie Patricio O’Ward, cutting the Mexican drivers lead to 25 points and pushing the championship to Portland International Raceway in one weeks time.
The Andretti Autosport front row of Herta and Norman brought the field to the green flag after a pair of pace laps.
Herta and Norman quickly fell into line, but behind them, they went three wide.
Urrutia, who started in seventh was the big mover when the green flag came out, using the outside line to move up to third.
Championship leader O’Ward was cautious at the start, falling back to fifth.
The running order at the end of the first lap was: Herta, Norman, Santi Urrutia, Aaron Telitz, Patricio O’Ward, Victor Franzoni and Dalton Kellett.
It didn’t take long for O’Ward to start to move forward, getting around Telitz on Lap 3 and setting after the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing machine of Urrutia.
On Lap 7, O’Ward peeked to the outside of Urrutia going down the front straight before diving inside in Turn 1. He was forced to back out of the move and regroup.
The next lap, O’Ward made a brave move around the outside of the Uruguayan in Turn 1 and Turn 2, completing the pass on the run to Turn 3.
That battle allowed Telitz to get back up under the rear wing of his teammate. Urrutia got high and loose in Turn 1 but was able to keep control after getting sideways and hold his teammate behind him.
The lead for Herta over Norman when Lap 10 of 75 began was 0.9861 seconds. Another 2.88 seconds afield of Norman was teammate Norman. Urrutia, Telitz, Franzoni, and Kellett rounded out the running order.
On lap 30, Herta’s lead had dropped to 0.5 seconds. The pair of leaders had pulled almost five seconds ahead of O’Ward.
At the crossed flags, Herta’s lead was only 0.2980 seconds and over the second half of the race that lead was never more than 0.6 seconds.
Further back Belardi Auto Racing teammates Urrutia and Telitz waged a back and forth battle 10-lap battle for fourth with the spot officially changing hands five times between Lap 46 and Lap 53.
Things that make a team owner nervous – Telitz gets around teammate Urrutia for fourth. The next lap, Urrutia takes it back @BelardiRacing#MRTI I #TeamCooperTire pic.twitter.com/RcKYKukKbo
— Indy Lights (@IndyLights) August 25, 2018
With 20 laps to go, Norman was still in the tire tracks of Herta only 0.3491 seconds back.
Behind them, the Belardi Auto Racing teammates were still battling for position.
With 15 laps remaining, Norman started trying different lines in Turn 1 to see if he could get a run on his second generation teammate.
After the race, Norman mentioned that because they had 10 seconds over O’Ward, he felt comfortable trying different lines, knowing that he’d be able to hang on to the spot if he made a mistake.
On Lap 62 Herta turned his quickest lap of the race, but couldn’t shake Norman.
With ten laps left the leading duo caught teammate Kellett, who graciously pulled to the inside to let them continue the battle.
On Lap 68 and 69, Norman made a high entry into Turn 1 going to the outside of Herta but was unable to complete the pass.
On the next lap, Norman made the same move, tucking right in behind Herta before popping low late into Turn 3. The two drivers were close to making contact but raced cleanly. Norman pulled ahead to lead lap 70.
Norman takes the lead and makes it stick! #MRTI #TeamCooperTire pic.twitter.com/7MAgVa2F1N
— Indy Lights (@IndyLights) August 25, 2018
Two laps later, Herta went to the inside of his teammate. Once again, the two were close but didn’t make contact. Herta took one more look underneath Norman after taking the white flag, but Norman’s car was better in Turn 1.
Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires race results
|1||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||75 LAPS|
|2||98||Colton Herta||Andretti Steinbrenner Racing||0.2055|
|3||27||Patricio O’Ward||Andretti Autosport||14.4474|
|4||5||Santi Urrutia||Belardi Auto Racing||18.1805|
|5||9||Aaron Telitz||Belardi Auto Racing||18.4407|
|6||23||Victor Franzoni||Juncos Racing||19.5890|
|7||28||Dalton Kellett||Andretti Autosport||-1 LAP|
The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series championship fight heads to Portland International Raceway next weekend.