Indianapolis, Ind. – Santiago “Santi” Urrutia maintained his impressive run of form for Team Pelfrey by snagging victory this afternoon in the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The 18-year-old Uruguayan fought off a race-long challenge from Juncos Racing’s Will Owen to claim his second win of the season by a slim margin of 1.0238 seconds after 21 laps around the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit.
Urrutia now holds a 24-point lead, 194-170, over today’s seventh place finisher, Neil Alberico, in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the halfway point of the 16-race season.
Owen’s teammate, Nicolas Buret, who won yesterday’s race, finished third.
After the initial attempt at a start was waved off, Urrutia jumped into the lead and held off the snarling pack into Turn One. Owen, who won one of last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races on the Indianapolis road course, tucked into second place ahead of Patricio O’Ward (Team Pelfrey), up from fifth on the grid. Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) went in the opposite direction. After starting second, Latorre found himself swallowed up by the pack and was bundled down to sixth at the end of the first green-flag lap.
Urrutia seemed to struggle with consistency during the first half of the race, but thereafter turned a series of fast laps to gradually eke out a small lead over the chasing Owen.
O’Ward, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Wednesday, couldn’t quite match the leaders’ pace but maintained third until Lap 14, when he braked a little too deep for Turn 12 and lost a position to Buret. Shortly afterward, on Lap 15, Jose Gutierrez, also made a move on O’Ward, earning himself the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award. O’Ward ended up fifth, under pressure in the closing stages from Cape teammates Latorre and Alberico, who had worked his way up from 10th on the grid.
Canadian Scott Hargrove, who finished second in the 2014 Pro Mazda championship and concluded a late deal to join JDC MotorSports for this weekend, earned the Quartermaster Hard Charger Award, rising six positions from 15th on the grid to ninth.
Kevin Davis (JDC MotorSports), from Alvin, Ill., claimed the Expert class honors, for drivers over 30 years of age, winning by less than two seconds over Bobby Eberle (World Speed Motorsports), who profited from a spin by Bob Kaminsky (Kaminsky Racing) with just three laps remaining.
The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will continue May 23 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with the Freedom 90, part of the #MRTI FreedomFest weekend during the lead-up to the 99th Indianapolis 500.
Santiago Urrutia (#81 Ancap/BSE/Ante/Corporacion de Maguinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol-Team Pelfrey): “It was a really hard race. We knew the first corner would be a problem, so I just stayed inside, and came out still in first. Will was pushing behind me – I made two mistakes and he almost got by me. But we were fast, (and) starting from the pole helped me a lot. The car was great – I set the fastest lap, I was on the pole and I am very happy to get the win, especially here at Indianapolis. I’ve watched the Indy 500 since I was very young and to win here is so special. I want to come back and race here; I want to race the ‘500. But for now, I need to keep working for the Pro Mazda championship, then we’ll see what happens!”