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Indy Lights Road America Qualifying for Race 1 – Results

By Patrick Stephan

Danial Frost – Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires qualifying session got started promptly at 2:30pm Central Time…for some of the field. The 30 minute session saw several drivers sit on pit lane for most of the session including Kyle Kirkwood. Others put in a quick lap early and then sat on pit lane themselves.

Devlin DeFrancesco had the top spot with 1:56.0898 for much of the session. Kirkwood finally went out with around 10 minutes remaining and promptly went P3 and just 0.0335 off P1.

With 6 minutes to go, DeFrancesco maintained the P1 spot over Danial Frost, then Kirkwood, Megennis, and Peroni.

With four minutes to go, David Malukas jumped to P4.

Then with a little over 2 minutes to go, Danial Frost moved to P1 with a 1:55.5938, while Malukas moves to P2. DeFrancesco, Kirkwood (still having done just 4 laps), and Sowery now round out the Top-5.

Point leader Linus Lundqvist was 7th at the time, but would jump to 5th with his final lap.

The top four were crazy close until Frost put in his pole winning time, gapping Malukas by 0.4766 – nearly half a second, a pretty large margin in this series. Just a little over a tenth separates 2nd through 6th.

This is Danial Frost’s first career Indy Lights pole, and he comes in to the race weekend 7th in points 72 back of Lundqvist.

During his pit lane interview he said he didn’t do anything special on that quick lap, he just did what he always does “go fast.” He said they have been working really hard lately and now are just one step away from the top step of the podium.

 

Pos Car # Driver Best Lap Diff Gap Total Laps Best Lap Team
1 68 Danial Frost 1:55.5938 0.000 7 6 Andretti Autosport
2 79 David Malukas 1:56.0704 0.4766 0.4766 8 7 HMD Motorsports
3 17 Devlin DeFrancesco 1:56.0898 0.4960 0.0194 6 2 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood 1:56.1233 0.5295 0.0335 4 2 Andretti Autosport
5 26 Linus Lundqvist 1:56.1691 0.5753 0.0458 9 9 Global Racing Group w/HMD
6 51 Toby Sowery 1:56.1974 0.6036 0.0283 9 7 Juncos Racing
7 2 Sting Ray Robb 1:56.4357 0.8419 0.2383 9 7 Juncos Racing
8 27 Robert Megennis 1:56.5380 0.9442 0.1023 5 3 Andretti Autosport
9 24 Benjamin Pedersen 1:56.6035 1.0097 0.0655 9 7 Global Racing Group wHMD
10 5 Alex Peroni 1:56.6111 1.0173 0.0076 6 5 Carlin
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin 1:57.0997 1.5059 0.4886 11 9 HMD Motorsports
12 11 Antonio Serravalle 1:57.2283 1.6345 0.1286 12 11 Pserra Racing
13 7 Christian Bogle 1:57.8645 2.2707 0.6362 6 2 Carlin

Road America – Friday Morning Session Results

By Patrick Stephan

Steve Wittich is attending to a family matter, so I will be pinch hitting on the TSOLadder.com side today.  And unfortunately, I was on an airplane (and then in the rental car) from Denver to Milwaukee when the first three official sessions of the weekend were completed.

Here is a quick recap of those sessions (please note, I didn’t actually see them so I can’t comment on red flags, etc.)

I’ll be covering the rest of today’s Road to Indy action live (and more completely of course) now that I am here at beautiful Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The first session of the day was Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice #1  at 8:00am.

That session was led by Matt Round-Garrido, followed by Prescott Campbell and Spike Kohlbecker.

Pos Car Driver Best Time Speed Diff Gap Best Lap Total Laps
1 92 Matt Round-Garrido 02:11.4794 109.906 –.—- –.—- 9 9
2 11 Prescott Campbell 02:11.4888 109.898 0.0094 0.0094 4 9
3 5 Spike Kohlbecker (R) 02:11.4974 109.891 0.0180 0.0086 9 10
4 12 Kiko Porto 02:11.5092 109.881 0.0298 0.0118 10 10
5 4 Michael d’Orlando 02:11.5577 109.841 0.0783 0.0485 5 5
6 10 Nolan Siegel 02:11.5648 109.835 0.0854 0.0071 10 10
7 2 Thomas Nepveu (R) 02:11.5964 109.808 0.1170 0.0316 9 9
8 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 02:11.6383 109.774 0.1589 0.0419 10 10
9 29 Erik Evans (R) 02:11.7183 109.707 0.2389 0.0800 8 9
10 33 Josh Green 02:11.7932 109.645 0.3138 0.0749 8 8
11 24 Josh Pierson 02:11.8265 109.617 0.3471 0.0333 8 9
12 6 Bijoy Garg 02:11.9036 109.553 0.4242 0.0771 8 8
13 34 Dylan Christie (R) 02:11.9388 109.524 0.4594 0.0352 8 8
14 23 Jace Denmark (R) 02:12.3850 109.154 0.9056 0.4462 9 9
15 1 Ely Navarro (R) 02:12.6691 108.921 1.1897 0.2841 4 4
16 99 Myles Rowe (R) 02:12.6802 108.912 1.2008 0.0111 9 9
17 19 Simon Sikes 02:12.6832 108.909 1.2038 0.0030 3 8
18 91 Billy Frazer (R) 02:12.7994 108.814 1.3200 0.1162 9 9
19 8 Jackson Lee (R) 02:13.0741 108.589 1.5947 0.2747 8 8
20 9 Peter Vodanovich (R) 02:13.2325 108.460 1.7531 0.1584 7 7
21 3 Evan Stamer (R) 02:13.3902 108.332 1.9108 0.1577 8 9
22 44 Christian Brooks 02:13.6922 108.087 2.2128 0.3020 2 3
23 16 Kent Vaccaro (R) 02:13.8744 107.940 2.3950 0.1822 6 6
24 63 Trey Burke (R) 02:13.9112 107.910 2.4318 0.0368 8 8
25 42 Michael Myers 02:14.0283 107.816 2.5489 0.1171 9 9

The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship would get back on the track at 11:30am for Race #1 Qualifying.

This time it was Kiko Porto, the 17 year old from Brazil, that picked up the pole position for DE Force Racing. He will start the race alongside his teammate Nolan Siegel, with Michael d’Orlando starting third.

Porto goes in to today’s 3:30pm Central Time race trailing 5th starting Yuven Sundaramoorthy by just 7 points (177-170). Spike Kohlbecker will start the race in 4th.

d’Orlando is tied for third in the points, with Christian Brooks, who will have to come from the 12th starting spot.

Porto has a win already this season on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Pos Car # Driver Best Time Diff Total Laps Fast Lap Team
1 12 Kiko Porto 2:10.7892 6 3 DEForce Racing
2 10 Nolan Siegel 2:11.0411 0.2519 5 2 DEForce Racing
3 4 Michael d’Orlando 2:11.2916 0.5024 6 3 Cape Motorsports
4 5 Spike Kohlbecker 2:11.3259 0.5367 5 2 Ignite Autosports w/Cape
5 22 Yuven Sundaramoorthy 2:11.3968 0.6076 5 2 Pabst Racing
6 11 Prescott Campbell 2:11.4094 0.6202 6 4 DEForce Racing
7 24 Josh Pierson 2:11.5483 0.7591 5 2 Pabst Racing
8 33 Josh Green 2:11.5819 0.7927 5 2 Turn 3 Motorsport
9 23 Jace Denmark 2:11.6630 0.8738 5 2 Pabst Racing
10 92 Matt Round-Garrido 2:11.7005 0.9113 7 6 Exclusive Autosport
11 6 Bijoy Garg 2:11.7744 0.9852 6 2 Jay Howard Driver
12 44 Christian Brooks 2:11.8479 1.0587 6 2 Exclusive Autosport
13 2 Thomas Nepveu 2:11.8565 1.0673 3 2 Cape Motorsports
14 34 Dylan Christie 2:11.9074 1.1182 5 3 Turn 3 Motorsport
15 1 Ely Navarro 2:12.1118 1.3226 6 3 DEForce Racing
16 19 Simon Sikes 2:12.1244 1.3352 7 4 Legacy Autosport
17 8 Jackson Lee 2:12.2632 1.4740 5 5 Jay Howard Driver
18 29 Erik Evans 2:12.3180 1.5288 7 4 Velocity Racing Development
19 99 Myles Rowe 2:12.3203 1.5311 6 3 Force Indy
20 63 Trey Burke 2:12.4888 1.6996 7 5 Joe Dooling Autosports
21 9 Peter Vodanovich 2:12.5592 1.7700 5 4 Jay Howard Driver
22 91 Billy Frazer 2:12.7529 1.9637 6 6 Exclusive Autosport
23 3 Evan Stamer 2:12.7715 1.9823 7 6 Ignite Autosports w/Cape
24 16 Kent Vaccaro 2:13.7131 2.9239 8 4 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports
25 42 Michael Myers 2:14.2880 3.4988 7 5 Michael Myers Racing

IndyPro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires took to the track at 9:45am, and Artem Petrov just bested his Exclusive Autosport teammate Braden Eves by 0.0333 of a second. Reece Gold was third quickest.

Point leader Christian Rasmussen was 5th quick, but is only 0.0849 off the fast time. In fact, the Top-5 are within a tenth of a second and 11 of the 12 cars here are within a single second. That’s amazingly close, especially for a 4.014 mile 14 Turn race course.

These same drivers will be back out at 1:45pm Central Time for their first qualifying session.

Pos Car # Driver Best Time Diff Total Laps Best Lap Gap Team
1 42 Artem Petrov 2:05.3626 8 6 0.000 Exclusive Autosport
2 91 Braden Eves 2:05.3959 0.0333 9 4 0.0333 Exclusive Autosport
3 55 Reece Gold 2:05.4019 0.0393 8 8 0.0060 Juncos Racing
4 22 Manuel Sulaiman 2:05.4268 0.0642 9 7 0.0249 Juncos Racing
5 1 Christian Rasmussen 2:05.4475 0.0849 6 4 0.0207 Jay Howard Driver Development
6 40 Jack William Miller 2:05.6263 0.2637 9 6 0.1788 Miller Vinatieri Motorsports
7 21 Kyffin Simpson 2:05.7644 0.4018 9 9 0.1381 Juncos Racing
8 51 Jacob Abel 2:05.8131 0.4505 9 7 0.0487 Abel Motorsports
9 3 James Roe 2:05.9182 0.5556 9 3 0.1051 Turn 3 Motorsport
10 18 Hunter McElrea 2:05.9571 0.5945 10 10 0.0389 Pabst Racing
11 5 Wyatt Brichacek 2:06.1943 0.8317 8 5 0.2372 Jay Howard Driver Development
12 11 Hunter Yeany 2:06.4782 1.1156 10 4 0.2839 Velocity Racing Development

 

The drivers in the incredibly tight Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points battle made it’s way on to the track at 10:30am this morning, but it was 9th in the season standings Robert Megennis that topped the practice session over Alex Peroni and Toby Sowery.

Point Leader Linus Lundqvist was 7th quick. Trailing him by just a single point coming in to this weekend is David Malukus, who was 9th. Third (by 4 points) Kyle Kirkwood was 4th quickest.

The Indy Lights drivers will be back on the track at 2:30pm for their first qualifying session of the weekend.

Pos Car # Driver Best Time Diff Total Laps Fast Lap Team
1 27 Robert Megennis 1:56.0097 14 4 Andretti Autosport
2 5 Alex Peroni 1:56.2950 0.2853 8 5 Carlin
3 51 Toby Sowery 1:56.7138 0.7041 12 3 Juncos Racing
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood 1:57.0261 1.0164 14 3 Andretti Autosport
5 7 Christian Bogle 1:57.1973 1.1876 13 3 Carlin
6 17 Devlin DeFrancesco 1:57.3066 1.2969 12 3 Andretti Steinbrenner
7 26 Linus Lundqvist 1:57.3943 1.3846 14 10 Global Racing
8 68 Danial Frost 1:57.4236 1.4139 5 5 Andretti Autosport
9 79 David Malukas 1:57.6210 1.6113 14 7 HMD Motorsports
10 2 Sting Ray Robb 1:57.8748 1.8651 14 4 Juncos Racing
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin 1:57.9368 1.9271 16 7 HMD Motorsports
12 24 Benjamin Pedersen 1:58.0628 2.0531 17 4 Global Racing
13 11 Antonio Serravalle 1:58.3118 2.3021 16 5 Pserra Racing

Linus Lundqvist to Make Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Debut with Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports

“FR Americas Champion moves to Road to Indy with eye on IndyCar”

Linus Lundqvist will make his Road to Indy debut as the third driver named to the Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports partnership

January 19, 2021 – Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports are excited to announce the third driver who will be joining the newly-formed partnership for the 2021 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Championship. Linus Lundqvist – reigning Formula Regional Americas Powered by Honda Champion and recipient of the first Honda Performance Development Indy Lights Scholarship – is set to join the field in a Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports entry and make his debut in the Road to Indy.
“We are thrilled to have Linus join Indy Lights in 2021 and happy that we can continue our working relationship,” explained GRG’s Christian Pedersen. “Linus has one goal, and we look forward to helping him achieve that. The partnership between Global Racing Group and HMD Motorsports solidifies the defined commitment for success and Linus will be part of a very strong four car driver lineup in the partnership.”
“Linus’ performance in 2020 was incredible,” added HMD Motorsports Owner Henry Malukas. “We are happy that he is racing in our program, and not against it.”
The 21-year-old Swedish driver made a massive impact in his first season racing in the United States. After claiming the BRDC British F3 Championship in 2018 and finishing fifth in the Euroformula Open in 2019, Lundqvist made the move over to the Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda for the 2020 season – where he accomplished a nearly perfect season. Over the course of 17 races, Lundqvist and Global Racing Group earned 15 wins, 16 podiums, 16 pole positions, 14 fastest laps and set new track records at five of the six venues.
After claiming the FR Americas Championship, Lundqvist was presented with a scholarship from Honda Performance Development to help move him to the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in Indy Lights. New to the Road to Indy program, Lundqvist will experience all new tracks [with the exception of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Barber Motorsports Park – which he competed on in FR Americas in 2020] in the 2021 season and will get his first taste of oval and street course action. This past season, Lundqvist conquered new and unfamiliar tracks each weekend and is looking to continue dominating new circuits in the upcoming season.
“Finally, able to announce my intentions for 2021 and shift my focus to race wins and the quest for the championship,” explained Lundqvist. “The partnership between Global Racing Group and HMD Motorsports has really formed a powerhouse program in the Road to Indy and their support together with Honda’s scholarship program has allowed me to put together what I believe to be the best possible foundation for a successful 2021”.
“HPD is pleased to support Linus in his next career move to Indy Lights with Global Racing Group,” added John Whiteman Commercial Motors Division Manager for HPD. “The intent of HPD and the F4 US and FR Americas series is to provide racers with an accessible platform to develop their skills and achieve their dreams. We look forward to watching Linus continue his success in the INDYCAR paddock.”
Lundqvist has already completed a two-day test at the Sebring International Raceway and will join Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports at a handful of private tests prior to making his Indy Lights debut in the 2021 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama over the April 9 – 11th weekend.
One additional driver announcement from HMD Motorsports will be communicated in the coming weeks.
To stay up to date with Global Racing Group, follow @GlobalRacingGroup on Instagram and @GRGInfo on Twitter and Facebook or visit GlobalRacingGroup.com. Please be sure to also follow HMD Motorsports on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @HMDMotorsports or visit HMDMotorsports.com.

Roger Penske confirms commitment to Indy Lights – hints at possible involvement of INDYCAR teams

By Steve Wittich

Since TSO Ladder broke the news about the suspension of the 2020 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season, there have been numerous questions and concerns regarding the future of the series.

Off-the-record, TSO Ladder has been informed about a few possible positive initiatives between Penske Entertainment and Andersen Promotions, but we couldn’t get anybody to go public with it.

Thankfully, Mr. Penske took care of that for us by sharing one of those ideas with Jack Arute on his Brick by Brick radio show on SiriusXM. 

“We decided not to run Indy Lights this year,” explained Penske to the veteran Indy car broadcaster. “We only had six or seven cars that we thought might compete. And, we can’t be putting on a series with six or seven cars. I think that’s a detriment to the brand.

“We’re going to sit down with (Dan) Andersen and the teams that are competing, and we’re going to look at a new rule package, possibly even for (20)21. Each team that’s registered as a leaders circle team will provide at least one entry.”

“So, we can bring that back, and it will be a key part of our ladder series, where can bring these drivers up the ladder and into the Indy 500.”

Penske is not a stranger to the American Ladder system. His son Roger Penske, Jr. was a frequent visitor to Formula Super Vee (precursor series to Indy Lights) podium in the early 1980s, and the automotive magnate’s Penske Auto Centers were a regular sponsor of Clint and Casey Mears during their Indy Lights careers.

Roger Penske celebrates 2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden’s second NTT INDYCAR® SERIES championship (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR- Joe Skibinski)

Penske, who employs, 2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden, understands the importance of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, saying:

“The new young drivers that have hit the pavement, (Colton) Herta has done a great job, and you’ve got two or three more coming this year. The continued route to Indy (Road To Indy) is very important with young drivers, and that will only make us stronger.”

Chris Griffis Memorial Test – Update #1 – Notebook from the two days of testing

 

By Steve Wittich

Consider tonight’s writings the first of two updates from the ninth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test. For the seventh time, the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to all three steps on the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder.

TSO Ladder has made this point each time we’ve covered this event, but we’re going to make it again and go one step further. We won’t call testing times meaningless, but we will reiterate that they are one of the last things that we look at when the two days of testing are done.

Need proof? If you take nine previous years of the Chris Griffis Memorial Test and multiply it by three, you come up with 27 drivers that have led the annual end of season test. Of those 27 drivers, only five (that’s 18.5%) have won the championship the next year.

So, what do we pay attention to?

How well does the driver progress from day to day and session to session? How does a driver that is new to the Road To Indy acclimate themselves to the car and tires? How does a driver fit in well with a new team? How ready is a driver that makes the jump to the next level? How does a driver interact with their teammates? How seriously does a driver take the test? These are all questions we attempt to answer before looking at the timesheets.

We will be back with notes from each day along with timesheets tomorrow, but for now, here is a notebook of some of the other things we learned this weekend.

The ninth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was blessed with wonderful fall weather (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)


If you haven’t yet, make sure you watch Road To Indy TV Episode 11 from the finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.


So, why is Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) testing with Belardi Auto Racing?

It’s a win-win situation for all involved.

From the team side, the experienced VeeKay piloting the team’s car during the test makes sense on two fronts. First, the Dutchman helped move the Juncos Racing program forward last year and should help the Brownsburg, Ind. based team do the same. Second, VeeKay is the perfect driver to showcase how competitive your cars will be against Andretti Autosport.

Rinus VeeKay provides feedback to Belardi Auto Racing engineer Kent Boyer at the 2019 Chris Griffis Memorial Test (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

From the driver’s side, testing is so limited in modern racing that any extra seat time is beneficial.

VeeKay is coming off his second successful test with Ed Carpenter Racing. From all accounts that TSO Ladder has heard, the day-long outing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was very successful.

Look for news on the Dutch teenager’s future sooner than later.


Experienced newcomer?

TSO had a chance to chat with experienced newcomer Raoul Hyman, who is testing in Indy Pro 2000 with Exclusive Autosport.

Hyman was impressed with the PM-18’s torque and enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere in the paddock and especially with Exclusive Autosport. He hasn’t entirely made up his mind on where he will be racing next year but did tell us that he was leaning towards a switch to the U.S.A.

Raoul Hyman relaxes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before getting in an Exclusive Autosport Indy Pro 2000 car for the Chris Griffis Memorial Test (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

Hyman spent this past season in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, finishing a disappointing 22nd in the championship. TSO doesn’t put much stock into that result. Last year was the first year for the new Dallara F3 2019 car, and the South African’s Sauber Charouz Racing System team didn’t have a handle on a car they’ve never run before.

The 23-year-old won the 2018 F3 Asian Championship, finished fourth in the 2019 Toyota Racing Series, and was a race winner in GP3 and BRDC Formula 4 Championship.

He’d be a great addition to the Road To Indy.


Lights car count and another test for the top rung of the Road To Indy

We’ve had some questions about why the Lights field is only five cars for the Chris Griffis Memorial Test. There are several factors. Brand new team Exclusive Autosport is still prepping their cars. HMD Motorsports is focusing on getting their restarted USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 programs sorted.

Unfortunately, the FIA Formula 3 Championship post-season test is taking place at the same time in Valencia, Spain. That series, with a similar budget to Indy Lights, has 31 drivers entered across the three-days of testing.

Also, there will be another official Indy Lights test in a few months. The top level of the Road To Indy will join the Global MX-5 Cup and the Lucas Oil School of Racing Karting Shootout for a two-day test.

With surface changes, bumps, heavy braking zones, and 90-degree turns, the 1.6-mile, 11-turn short course does a great job of mimicking a street circuit.


Safety addition for the ‘kids’

Before next season, the USF-17, PM-18 and IL-15, will all be fitted with the Advanced Frontal Protection device. The AFP is designed to keep debris from the cockpit of the car and was added to the cars of the NTT IndyCar Series before the Indianapolis 500 last year.


IndyCar driver sighting

NTT IndyCar Series championship contender Alexander Rossi was in the USF2000 paddock on Sunday. Pieter Rossi, the 7-time IndyCar race winners father, helps guide the careers of several Road To Indy drivers. This weekend, the Rossi’s were working with Pabst Racing’s Yuven Sundaramoorthy.

The Oconomowoc, Wisc. is coming off a successful first year of USF2000 action where he was one of only three drivers to complete every lap.


Road To Indy alum making good

At last year’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test, Igor Fraga spent Saturday wrenching on the Exclusive Autosport program in exchange for an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Canadian team’s Indy Pro 2000 car.

This year, the Brazilian was at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, where he won the final two races of the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship season. Fraga won four races and stood on the podium in ten races on the way to finishing third in the series that utilizes the Tatuus F3 chassis mated to a 265+ HP Alfa Romeo power plant.

Fraga earned his seat by winning the FIA Gran Turismo Nation’s Cup along with the McLaren Shadow Project by beating over 500,000 contestants around the world.

Fraga, who just turned 21-years-old spent the 2018 racing season with Exclusive Autosport, collecting three podiums and finishing fourth in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.


New Town of Speedway denizen 

Juncos Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing, and Dallara will soon have more racing company in the town of Speedway. The walls are currently going up on the new home of Abel Motorsports. The building is being built by ABEL Construction and is a partnership between team owner Bill Abel and Bob Lazier.


Speaking of Laziers

Third-generation racer Flinn Lazier spent the test in the second Abel Motorsports PM-18 alongside Jacob Abel. The Vail, Colo. native experienced mechanical gremlins on Saturday but rebounded to turn a lap within one-second of the quickest lap of the weekend on Sunday.

The Chris Griffis Memorial Test was the first time the 20-year-old had been behind the wheel of an Indy Pro 2000 car, but he is not short of open-wheel experience. Lazier joined his grandfather Bob as a Formula B/Atlantic champion at the SCCA Runoffs, winning at Virginia International Raceway last weekend. The elder Lazier won the 1971 Formula B championship Road Atlanta in 1971.

Joining Lazier at the historic track where his grandfather, the 1981 Championship Auto Racing Teams Rookie Of The Year and his father Buddy, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion.

Third-generation racer Flinn Lazier on pit road at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the ninth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

That’s it for us tonight. I’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires at Laguna Seca – VeeKay goes wire-to-wire again.

By Steve Wittich

For the sixth time in the 2019 Indy Lights season, Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) stood on the top step of the podium. Similar to Saturday’s race, VeeKay led from the green flag to the checkered flag in a demanding fashion.

Today’s 32 point haul marked the fifth time this season that the Dutchman took home ‘max points’ for winning from the pole and leading the most laps.

Rinus VeeKay is interviewed after his sixth Indy Lights win of the 2019 season (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

“The Juncos team gave me a great car, and I had a good start, though Oliver was good with the push-to-pass,” said VeeKay after the final race of the 2019 season. “I’ve learned a lot about tire management and that really came into play today. It was great to win the little battle with Oliver today, to end up with more Road to Indy wins than he has. But the Road to Indy has taught me so much. Everything I’ve learned is what I will take to IndyCar, and I can show them what the Road to Indy means to drivers. I’m so happy; it is the best way to end the Road to Indy for me. I knew the championship was not to be this weekend, so to take both wins means a lot. It shows the IndyCar teams what I can do.”

VeeKay, who won for the 16th time in the last three seasons, now leads Askew by one win across their concurrent 48 race Road To Indy careers.

The win is the fifth in the last six Indy Lights races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Juncos Racing.

Askew didn’t quite have enough pace for VeeKay and Juncos Racing this weekend but ended his Road To Indy career with his 31st career podium.

“My engineer, Doug Zister, came on the radio and said it was my last stint of the season – and I gave it all I had,” explained Askew after the race. “We just didn’t have the speed this weekend; Juncos was strong. But I’m happy with our performance, today and all year long. I’m humbled and privileged to have raced for Andretti Autosport all year and hopefully our paths will cross again in years to come. And Rinus – it’s been an honor to race against him. We’ve made each other better drivers, and I can’t wait to have more battles with him in IndyCar.”

Askew joins Patricio O’Ward (2018), J.R. Hildebrand (2009) and Raphael Matos (2008) as the fourth Indy Lights champion for Andretti Autosport.

HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey rookie Toby Sowery finished on the final step of the podium, solidifying a third-place championship finish for the Cambridge, England driver. It was the eighth time that the distinctive Gap Guard/Rich Energy sponsored No. 2 finished in a podium position.

Toby Sowery on track at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The command to fire the turbocharged 2.0L AER engines for the last time in 2019 was given at 9:09 am.

After two pace laps to get their Cooper Tire slicks up to temperature, the front row of VeeKay and Askew brought the field to the green flag.

The Soul Red No. 21 of VeeKay was the first car to get to the corner, but behind him, things weren’t so simple. Sowery was able to get to the inside of Askew, but the newly crowned champion was able to out-brake the HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey driver, grabbing the second spot back around the outside.

The biggest loser in the Andretti Hairpin was Megennis, who dropped from his fourth starting spot to sixth. The Andretti Autosport rookie was able to get back past Kellett for fifth on the run up the Rahal Straight.

The running order at the end of the first lap was: VeeKay, Askew, Sowery, Norman, Megennis, Kellett, Malukas, Kohl.

VeeKay’s lead when they crossed the line to start the third lap was 0.5 seconds, but Askew has already used his push-to-pass four times.

The front three started to pull away from the rest of the field.

On Lap 5, Andretti Autosport teammates Megennis and Norman banged wheels at the turn-in of Turn 2, with Norman holding off the Cybersecurity sponsored No. 27.

On Lap 7, Megennis got to the inside of Norman in the same spot. This time, the New Yorker was able to muscle his way past the Three Chord sponsored No. 48.

To begin Lap 9, VeeKay had a 1.475 second lead over Askew, just within push-to-pass range. Sowery was 2.0 seconds behind Askew, outside of the push-to-pass zone.

At the one-third pole, VeeKay’s gap to Askew had grown to 1.7 seconds, putting the Dutchman outside of the 1.5-second push-to-pass range. The rest of the running order was Sowery, Megennis, Norman, Kellett, Malukas, and Kohl.

At the half-way point of the 30 lap race, VeeKay’s lead over Askew had stabilized right around the 2-second mark. After hanging onto the front pair for the first five laps, Sowery fell back five seconds. His grasp on the final spot of the podium was a safe 6.2 seconds.

With ten laps remaining, VeeKay’s lead had grown to 3.5 seconds over Askew. Behind them, the closest battle was between Norman and Kellett for fifth. The Canadian, who was the only driver to start on sticker Cooper Tires was able to stay within one second of Norman. The Andretti Autosport veteran was able to hold off Kellett

VeeKay took the white flag 5.7 seconds ahead of Askew, leading all 30 laps for the second day in a row.

After the race, championship winner Askew stopped in Turn 2 to celebrate by roasting his Cooper Tires and creating a smoke show.

Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products Race #2 results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 30 LAPS
2 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport -5.2942
3 2 Toby Sowery HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey -17.6197
4 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -24.6287
5 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport -37.8798
6 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing -38.8016
7 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports -46.5417
8 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing -69.7772

Final 2019 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires standings

RANK DRIVER TOTAL BACK
1 Oliver Askew – R 486
2 Rinus VeeKay – R 465 -21
3 Toby Sowery – R 367 -119
4 Ryan Norman 359 -127
5 Robert Megennis – R 355 -131
6 David Malukas – R 301 -185
7 Dalton Kellett 275 -211
8 Lucas Kohl – R 253 -233
9 Aaron Telitz 133 -353
10 Zachary Claman 124 -362
11 Julien Falchero – R 66 -420
12 Jarett Andretti – R 23 -463
13 Chris Windom – R 17 -469

Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires at Laguna Seca – Saturday – VeeKay wins the day in dominating fashion – Askew clinches 3-race IndyCar Scholarship

By Steve Wittich

Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) won the day and the first Indy Lights race of the weekend. But, it was Oliver Askew that won the season and the 2019 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Championship and the three-race NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that goes with it.

VeeKay’s dominant 9.9 second green to checkered flag victory is his fifth victory of the year and the 15th in his Road To Indy career. That means the two long-time rivals are tied with 15 wins each.

Rinus Veekay and his Soul Red No. 23 were so fast they were a blur. (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The win was the fourth in the last five Indy Lights races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Juncos Racing, moving them out of a tie with Tasman Motorsports and PacWest racing as the winningest Indy Lights teams at the iconic road course.

For the fourth time this season, Toby Sowery finished on the second step of the podium. His points he gathered for his sixth podium of the year, moved the HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey rookie past Ryan Norman into third in the championship. That means three different teams represent the top three in the championship.

Sowery leads Norman by three points and Megennis by nine points in the entertaining battle for third place in the championship.

Robert Megennis was able to get past his championship-winning teammate on the opening lap and was able to hold Askew off for the next 29 laps.

“It feels good to be back on the podium,” explained the New Yorker to TSO Ladder. “It feels like we are getting back in the swing of things. This is the best I’ve driven since Road America. It’s nice to finish off the season on a strong note and let’s go get another one tomorrow.”

Askew’s fourth-place finish was enough to clinch the Indy Lights championship and three-race NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that goes with it. Unfortunately, it brought an eight-race podium streak to an end.

We’ll have more on Askew’s impressive championship run over the next couple of days.

The first Road To Indy race of the weekend, the 30-lap Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products, began immediately after an exciting NTT IndyCar Series qualifying session. The ambient temperature was 79F, and the track temperature was 114F.

VeeKay was the first driver to get to the Andretti Hairpin, getting through the 190-degree corner before the rest of the field. Behind him, Megennis got a great start, getting past his teammate Askew and looking to the outside of Sowery in Turn 2. Sowery got a better drive off the corner and held the spot.

Belardi Auto Racing rookie Lucas Kohl had a moment on the run up the Rahal Straight, dropping the seventh place that he had gained at the start.

The running order at the end of the first lap was: VeeKay, Sowery, Megennis, Askew, Kellett, Malukas, Norman and Kohl.

On the second lap, Kellett dropped his left side Cooper Tires off track at the exit Turn 4, dropping the fifth spot to Malukas.

VeeKay was the only driver to start the 30-lap race on sticker tires, and he put them to good use. He was able to build a push-to-pass safe gap of just under two seconds after the first three circuits of 30 lap race.

“It would be pretty evident that is was,” explained Sowery to TSO Ladder. “We kind knew it would be because it is a high deg(radation) track for the tires, but we didn’t realize how much it would be. We were pushing at the start with push-to-pass, but it was just shooting in the dark.”

On Lap 5, Malukas started to put pressure on Askew for fourth place but wasn’t able to get around the Index Invest sponsored No. 28.

VeeKay continued to push his Soul Red No. 23, turning the quickest lap of the race to that point and building his lead to 3.6 seconds over Sowery.

On Lap 8, it became evident that VeeKay was not taking it easy, bouncing wildly over the pyramid curb at guarding the inside of Turn 8 and sliding sideways into the second half of The Corkscrew.

The running order after one-third of the race was complete was VeeKay, Sowery, Megennis, Askew, Malukas, Kellett, Norman and Kohl.

The drivers settled in to take care of their Cooper Tires, and at the halfway point of the race, VeeKay’s lead over Sowery was 5.61 seconds. Sowery had a substantial 6.3 second lead over Megennis, who was less than a second ahead of his teammate Askew.

Askew continued to pressure Megennis for the next five laps, and with ten laps remaining he was 0.75 second adrift.

VeeKay’s lead upfront with one-third of the race remaining was an extremely comfortable 8.1 seconds.

With five laps remaining, Askew took a look to the inside of Megennis in Turn 2, but Megennis defended effectively. Not long after that, Askew was out of the extra 50 horsepower push-to-pass activations.

VeeKay took the white flag 9.3 seconds ahead of Sowery, but behind the front pair, the battle for third, fourth, and fifth was covered by less than two seconds. The drivers were nose-to-tail as they reached the iconic Corkscrew, but they held station, crossing the line within 1.1 seconds of each other.

Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products Race #1 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 30 LAPS
2 2 Toby Sowery HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey -9.8874
3 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport -23.1222
4 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport -23.9875
5 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports -24.3501
6 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing -47.3334
7 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport -47.9062
8 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing -1 LAP
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Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires at Laguna Seca – VeeKay uses last minute flyer to grab his 7th pole of the season

By Steve Wittich

Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) might need a miracle to win his second straight Road To Indy, but the Juncos Racing rookie isn’t going down without a fight. The Dutchman turned the quickest lap of the weekend, timed at 75.671 seconds, to grab pole for the second straight day at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It will the seventh time this season that the 19-year-old will start an Indy Lights race from the pole.

Askew, who will start third in today’s Indy Lights race, improved by one spot and the presumptive champion will begin Sunday’s finale beside rival VeeKay.

Starting on the second row is Portland International Raceway Race #2 winner Toby Sowery and Askew’s Andretti Autosport teammate Robert Megennis.

After a quiet first half of the 30-minute session, the timing sheet was as follows: VeeKay, Askew, David Malukas, Sowery, Dalton Kellett, Lucas Kohl, Megennis and Norman.

With five just over three minutes remaining, Sowery turned the quickest lap of the session, briefly grabbing the provisional pole before presumptive champion Askew went to the top of the timing screens. It wasn’t by much. Askew’s lap was only three-hundredths quicker than the HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey rookie.

Askew went even quicker on his next lap, breaking the 76 second barrier for the first time in the session. But, his time on the provisional pole didn’t last long. VeeKay was able to go two tenths quicker on his final flying lap of the session.

Askew took a lap to cool down his Cooper Tires and was on a flyer that had to be aborted when the Jupiter, Fla. driver came across a local yellow in The Corkscrew.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying #2 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 1:15.671 –.—-
2 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 1:15.849 0.1777
3 2 Toby Sowery HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey 1:16.104 0.4328
4 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:16.228 0.5574
5 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 1:16.393 0.7218
6 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 1:16.471 0.7999
7 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:16.500 0.8292
8 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 1:16.823 1.1518
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Exclusive Autosport expands into Indy Lights – race winners in USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 planning to run two cars

 

Perennial Road To Indy race winners, Exclusive Autosport will be making a move into the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. The Michael Duncalfe led team has purchased a pair of IL-15s and is planning on fielding a couple of entries for the 2020 season.

“This is truly a dream come true,” explained Duncalfe. “When I started Exclusive Autosport in 2013, competing in the Road to Indy was always the goal; however, it seemed like a distant reality. To be sitting here, announcing that we are expanding to Indy Lights and have a four-tiered ladder system after seven years of competition, is one of the proudest moments of my career. This transition is a natural fit for the Exclusive Autosport program. Dan Andersen and the entire Road to Indy organization have been incredible to work with from day one. They have been very supportive of our efforts. We are thrilled to be a part of it. I want to thank my wife and children for all of their support and my incredible crew led by Mirl Swan. We are looking forward to what 2020 will bring.”

Exclusive Autosport’s entry into the top level of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires means that the list of teams expecting to take part in the 2020 season will grow to five.

Like most, I had aspirations to be an IndyCar driver.” Duncalfe told TSO Ladder. “Obviously, that wasn’t realistic for me, because I didn’t understand the business side of things early on. I’m absolutely thrilled to still be in a sport that I absolutely love and that I’m very passionate about. It’s been an incredible journey.”

The team is headquartered in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, and the Road To Indy portion of the team will be based in Brownsburg, Indiana.

Exclusive Autosport will be one of two teams with seats available on all three rungs of the Road To Indy ladder. HMD Motorsports recently announced that their goal in 2020 is to run cars in all three series.

Exclusive Autosport will also continue their successful F1600 effort where the team has won 17 championships in Canada. That includes the 2019 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship and Formula 1600 Super Series Championship with driver Olivier Bedard.

“Running at every level of the North American open-wheel ladder gives drivers the ability to graduate within our program from F1600 to USF2000 to Indy Pro 2000 to Indy Lights,” said Duncalfe when TSO Ladder asked him about the benefits of having cars in all series. “We establish a great relationship with a driver and a family giving them confidence in the team and staff that they are working with. That only helps the driver to continue that relationship instead of having to build a relationship with a new team every year.”

Exclusive Autosport is an off-shoot of former racer Duncalfe’s driver development and management entity Exclusive Management; moving into racing and importing race cars in 2013.

The team expanded into the USF2000 Championship in 2017, running full season programs for fellow Canadian Parker Thompson and Dev Gore. Success came almost immediately with Thompson standing on the podium in the squad’s first weekend of Road To Indy action. Thompson ended the team’s rookie season in third place in the championship, collecting three wins and three pole starts along the way.

The team’s USF2000 success continued in 2018 with Igor Fraga fighting for top honors among the drivers not named Kyle Kirkwood.

Last year, the team also moved into the Indy Pro 2000 series, once again entering a new championship with Thompson. Thompson won three races, falling just short of the championship after a season-long battle with eventual winner Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay).

This year, Rookie Danial Frost extended the team’s Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires winning streak to three years, winning on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway Park and the Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto.

“The biggest thing is our ability to recognize what makes a driver tick and our ability to understand that every driver learns differently,” explained Duncalfe when asked what separates them from the other teams in the Road To Indy paddock. “We can adapt our program to what they need every year.”

Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires at Laguna Seca – VeeKay dominates Indy Lights qualifying

By Steve Wittich

For the third straight Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race, Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) sixth time this season and 13th time in his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career will start a race from the pole.

VeeKay’s pole-winning lap of 66.017 seconds was a dominating 0.628 seconds quicker than outside front row sitter, HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey rookie Toby Sowery.

Presumptive Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew will start behind VeeKay on the inside of row two with his Andretti Autosport teammate Robert Megennis beside him.

Today’s pole is the second at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Speedway, Ind. based Juncos Racing. Kyle Kaiser was a pole winner at his home track in 2016.

The eight Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers were the first of three straight Road To Indy series to hit the 2.258-mile, 11-turn WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course for qualifying.

Because passing at the iconic circuit is difficult, the average starting position of the Indy Lights race winner at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is 1.95; qualifying is critical.

Before the halfway mark of the half-hour session, VeeKay and Sowery both spent time holding onto the provisional pole.

VeeKay’s lap of 66.6809 seconds at the 15-minute mark was two-tenths of a second ahead of Sowery. Askew was another tenth behind Sowery with Dalton Kellett and Robert Megennis.

At that point in the session, all drivers were on pit-road for adjustments and sticker tires.

The first drivers to go quicker on their fresh Cooper Tires were Sowery and Askew but were not able to surpass VeeKay who lowered the provisional pole to 66.681 seconds.

The next driver to go to the provisional pole was Kellett at 66.611 seconds. That didn’t last long before his teammate VeeKay went back to the top of the timing screen with a lap that was almost six-tenths of a second quicker than any other driver.

With just under one minute remaining the red flag and checkered flag came out for Dalton Kellett had an issue in Turn 6. The veteran Canadian was set to start on the outside of the front row but lost his quickest lap for causing the stoppage.

Qualifying results for Indy Lights race #1

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 1:16.017 –.—-
2 2 Toby Sowery HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey 1:16.645 0.6282
3 28 Oliver Askew Andretti Autosport 1:16.792 0.7744
4 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:16.876 0.8588
5 67 Dalton Kellett Juncos Racing 1:17.038 1.0207
6 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:17.410 1.3926
7 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 1:17.439 1.4216
8 5 Lucas Kohl Belardi Auto Racing 1:17.778 1.7609

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race #1 rolls off at 3:10 pm tomorrow.

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