By Tony DiZinno

Paddock Notes from Wednesday

Steve covered the on-track testing on Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and there were a handful of other notes gleaned from the Mazda Road to Indy paddock yesterday.

TSO spoke to two of M1 Racing’s drivers, in series debutante Victor Franzoni and teammate Jay Horak, both of whom are in AutoEnginuity-backed cars. Franzoni, who moves up from USF2000 this season, only got about 10 laps in his opening test session on Wednesday, which was his first time in the Pro Mazda car. He noted the adjustment in power and downforce levels, but was happy to keep racing after his USF2000 team, Afterburner Autosport, incurred a two-event suspension for a rules violation.

TSO talked to Horak, as well, the Expert class driver who had a tough Wednesday. A reported oil line rupture caused a small fire on his car, which led to an extended red flag in the first of two test sessions. Horak told TSO he is excited to see Franzoni move up, and will use the rest of 2015 as a trial run for a championship run in 2016 – which could be in either Pro Mazda or Indy Lights.

In USF2000, Swan Racing makes its series debut with cars formerly fielded by Belardi Auto Racing. Tyler Hunter is in for this weekend only at the moment, with team principal Mirl Swan telling TSO they hope to have Max Mallinen ready to make his debut in Toronto. Swan has Alex Barron, the five-time Indianapolis 500 starter and 2002 co-rookie of the year, as a driver coach.

Pylon Enhancements

IMSpylonnames

One of the cooler elements of the new pylon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Mazda Road to Indy divisions is that both the driver car number and last name are listed from first on down, rather than just the car number. This gives teams, observers and fans a chance to learn the names of the future stars beyond just their car numbers.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda practice 1

Sunny skies with almost no clouds greeted the 17 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda drivers for the opening 30-minute practice session on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The pair of drivers from both Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Pabst Racing dominated the session, with Nico Jamin leading the way at 1:26.173. Pabst’s top driver Jake Eidson was second, with Jamin’s teammate Aaron Telitz third, Eidson’s teammate Yufeng Luo and Team Pelfrey’s Garth Rickards completing the top five.

Jamin, Eidson and Telitz all set their fastest lap under last year’s race record of 1:26.5053, set by Colton Herta last year.

Most of the field got in between 15 to 18 laps with three drivers, Nikita Lastochkin, Max Hanratty and James Dayson all turning the most laps in the session with 18.

The session ran without red flag interruptions until the final two minutes, when JAY Motorsports rookie Augie Lerch had an incident in Turns 3 and 4. That put the session under red and brought the checkered out.

The complete time sheet is as follows:

P No Name FTime
1 2 Nico Jamin 1:26.173
2 22 Jake Eidson 1:26.272
3 3 Aaron Telitz 1:26.362
4 23 Yufeng Luo 1:26.799
5 83 Garth Rickards 1:26.815
6 84 Nikita Lastochkin 1:26.948
7 82 Luke Gabin 1:27.083
8 33 Anthony Martin 1:27.120
9 80 Parker Thompson 1:27.267
10 5 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:27.319
11 81 Ayla Agren 1:27.403
12 19 Sam Chastain 1:27.716
13 6 Max Hanratty 1:28.276
14 12 Augie Lerch 1:28.578
15 16 James Dayson 1:28.640
16 9 Tyler Hunter 1:28.739
17 51 Bill Abel 1:31.075

Next up for the USF2000 field is second practice, another 30-minute session from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires practice 1

Juncos Racing dominated the opening 30-minute Pro Mazda session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a top three-sweep.

Andretti Autosport’s Weiron Tan set the early pace before Juncos’ Will Owen eclipsed Tan’s mark, with both drivers in the 1:23.8 range. Owen’s time up top didn’t last long; Timothe Buret came through with a best lap nearly three tenths quicker at 1:23.512. Buret later lowered the mark to an eventual best time of 1:23.459.

Buret’s best lap is roughly half a second off the track record, set by 2014 Juncos driver and series champion Spencer Pigot of 1:22.9623 in qualifying last year.

Owen was second with Jose Gutierrez third to complete the top-three sweep. Tan was fourth, with Juncos’ fourth driver Garett Grist ending in fifth.

Scott Hargrove, the double Pro Mazda race winner at IMS last year, improved significantly from his testing pace on Wednesday and was seventh by the end of the session, just under eight tenths back of Buret. He was more than a second off on Wednesday.

There were no red flags during the session. Alessandro Latif led the field with 20 laps completed; neither Parker Nicklin nor Jay Horak set a timed lap.

The complete time sheet is as follows:

P No Name FTime
1 6 Timothe Buret 1:23.459
2 23 Will Owen 1:23.817
3 7 Jose Gutierrez 1:23.829
4 22 Weiron Tan 1:23.876
5 5 Garett Grist 1:23.937
6 3 Neil Alberico 1:24.037
7 19 Scott Hargrove 1:24.246
8 91 Kyle Connery 1:24.299
9 10 Florian Latorre 1:24.302
10 81 Santiago Urrutia 1:24.359
11 21 Victor Franzoni 1:24.454
12 28 Dalton Kellett 1:24.501
13 82 Pato O’Ward 1:24.542
14 80 Raoul Owens 1:24.594
15 2 Daniel Burkett 1:24.656
16 14 Alessandro Latif 1:25.372
17 13 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:26.697
18 44 Kevin Davis(E) 1:26.818
19 33 Carlos Conde 1:27.451
20 57 Bob Kaminsky(E) 1:30.870
21 26 Parker Nicklin 3:29.206

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire practice #1

The 12 drivers racing in this weekend’s Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis presented by Cooper Tires all smashed the track record in the opening 45-minute practice Thursday morning, which had been 1:18.4256 set by Matthew Brabham in qualifying last year.

The only question after first practice, which ran in near perfect temperatures of 70 degrees ambient and 73 on track, was how low the mark will go for the remainder of the weekend.

Carlin’s Ed Jones set the best time of the morning at 1:15.7096, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Jack Harvey also getting into the 1:15 bracket as well.

Max Chilton, in a new Dallara chassis to replace the one that incurred tub damage on Wednesday, rebounded to third. Barber double winner Spencer Pigot was fourth with fellow American Sean Rayhall completing the top five.

Harvey opted to wait until later in the session to get his running in, and also completed the fewest laps of the session with eight.

Felix Serralles of Belardi Auto Racing led the way with 27 laps completed, ahead of Juan Piedrahita and Shelby Blackstock, both of whom turned 26.

There were no incidents or red flag interruptions in the session.

The complete time sheet is as follows:

P No Name FTime
1 11 Ed Jones 1:15.710
2 42 Jack Harvey 1:15.920
3 14 Max Chilton 1:16.029
4 12 Spencer Pigot 1:16.237
5 8 Sean Rayhall 1:16.252
6 18 Kyle Kaiser 1:16.286
7 4 Felix Serralles 1:16.386
8 7 RC Enerson 1:16.516
9 5 Juan Piedrahita 1:16.707
10 71 Ethan Ringel 1:17.067
11 77 Scott Anderson 1:17.204
12 51 Shelby Blackstock 1:17.687

Next up for the Indy Lights field is second practice, another 45-minute session from 4:55 to 5:40 p.m.

Thanks for reading, and there will be more to come this afternoon.