Indy Lights Race #2

For the second straight day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course the 12 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire drivers put on an entertaining show that resulted in a surprise winner.  The masses of fans on the viewing hills surrounding the  2.258-mile, 13-turn road course saw 8Star Motorsports rookie part-timer Sean Rayhall hold off a more experienced Max Chilton and score his second Indy Lights win of the year.

Jack Harvey who before this weekend had only finished outside the top five in one of his 26 Indy Lights starts finished 11th in the first race and 10th in the second race to start an undesirable streak.  Havery’s points lead over Spencer Pigot coming into the day was 17 points and heading to two race finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca it has shrunk to a slim seven points.

Ed Jones sits in third in the championship 18 points from Harvey and yesterdays winner, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian rookie RC Enerson finds himself 36 points from winning the MAZDASPEED scholarship and a guaranteed three-race Verizon IndyCar Series deal.

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series drivers stream towards Turn 4 after taking the green flag in their second race of the Mid-Ohio weekend.  (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series drivers stream towards Turn 4 after taking the green flag in their second race of the Mid-Ohio weekend. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Similar to the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race before it, one of the drivers who started on the front row jumped the gun.  Jones who started on the outside of the front row got the jump on pole sitter Harvey.   Jones took the green flag first and got through the Turn 4 right-hander first.  Race-control reviewed the re-start and no action was taken.

TSO tried to talk to Harvey after the race and understandably he declined an on the record comment.

TSO was able to get Jones side of the story.

“Harvey tried to to play around,” said Jones, he kept braking and going, so messing around. (Tony) Cottman (Race Director) before the race to keep a constant speed and we’ll wave it green, so I kept constant speed and Harvey was messing around and I gained from that.”

At the end of the first lap the top five were: Ed Jones, Jack Harvey, Felix Serralles,  Sean Rayhall, and Max Chilton.

On Lap 2 Serralles and Harvey went side-by-side into Turn 4 and they bumped wheels with the No. 4 going for a wild ride in the grass.  The No. 4 came back on track and just missed collecting the No. 8 of  Sean Rayhall.  Seralles fell back to ninth place and was able to finish the race in fifth.

On Lap 4 the No. 77 of Anderson and No. 18 of Kyle Kaiser got together in Turn 9.  Both cars were able to get going and came into pit road for repairs.  Both drivers were able to driver back to pit road under their own power and get back on track a number of laps down.  The incident was reviewed but no action was taken.

The course went back to green on Lap 7 with Jones leading Harvey to the line.  Next in line were Rayhall, Chilton and Pigot.

On Lap 10 Jones holds only a 0.39 second lead over Harvey, with Rayhall stalking both and turning the quickest laps of the race.

On Lap 11 Harvey dove to the inside of Jones in Turn 4 and locked up the brakes and just missed hitting Jones.  Jones was issued a warning for blocking.

Jones held a slim 0.39 second over Harvey as the two championship contenders began their 15th lap.  Rayhall was a further one second back.

Jones was not able to pull away from Harvey and held only a 0.48 second lead at the line on the start of Lap 20.  Later on that lap, Harvey pulled along side of Jones in Turn 4 and the No. 11 chopped the No. 42 and the two drivers made contact.  Havery slid into “China Beach” but was able to keep going and came back out eighth place with front wing damage.  Jones spun on track, but was able to keep going in .  Jones was given a drive through penalty for avoidable contact.  When it all shook out Harvey was in eighth, 8.8 seconds ahead of Jones in ninth.

Regarding that contact, Jones said, “he hit me twice during the race, and both times I had already defended to the inside and maybe there was a car widths room and he tried to go in that but it was so dusty and he was never going to make the corner.   I was surprised he made that move because of (his) experience.”

That passed the lead onto Rayhall with Max Chilton and Spencer Pigot holding down the other podium positions.

On the following lap (21) Juan Piedrahita and his Mazda powered No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing Dallara  spun coming off Turn 9 and made contact with the nose of the car into the tire barriers.  He was able to re-fire and make it back to pit-road, but had to retire with damage.

On lap 30, Rayhall had a 2.2 second lead over Chilton with Pigot and Enerson right behind them.

Jones was able to catch Harvey for 9th, but it took a lap and two side-by-side battles in The Keyhole (Lap 2) before Jones could get underneath and past Harvey in Turn 4 on Lap 31.  That allowed Anderson a chance to catch and pass both Jones and Harvey to move into eigth.  Anderson’s solid recovery to eighth from earlier contact include the quickest lap of the race.

With four laps to go Chilton had closed to within 1.7 seconds of Rayhall, but it was Pigot in third who had his hands full with yesterday’s winner Enerson.    Pigot was able to hold yesterday winter behind him until the checkered flag.

With two laps to go the gap between Rayhall and Chilton was only 1.1 seconds.

Rayahll took the white flag with only a 0.9 second lead and ended up crossing the finish line 0.999 seconds ahead of Formula 1 veteran Chilton.

Chilton ended the weekend “very, very happy” and said that he loved this track and it remind him of Oulton Park in the United Kingdom.

Final results of the second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire race of the weekend at Mid-Ohio:

RANK — DRIVER — LAPS COMPLETED — TIME BEHIND LEADER

1 Sean Rayhall 38

2 Max Chilton 38 0.9998

3 Spencer Pigot 38 2.5773

4 RC Enerson 38 3.1858

5 Felix Serralles 38 13.0747

6 Shelby Blackstock 38 16.7412

7 Ethan Ringel 38 36.0946

8 Scott Anderson 38 45.5278

9 Ed Jones 38 55.3950

10 Jack Harvey 38 75.7638

11 Kyle Kaiser 35 3Laps

12 Juan Piedrahita 22 15Laps

The close championship battle now heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 10-13 for the final two races of the year.

Pro Mazda Race #2

Santiago Urrutia came into the weekend with a 27 point lead over Weiron Tan in the championship and leaves central Ohio with a 29 point lead over Neil Alberico, but it was Alberico who scored the win in Sunday’s second Pro Mazda race of the weekend.  The Los Gatos, California native said the win was “instant redemption” after the team thought “they were robbed of a win” on Saturday.

Neil Alberico won his tenth Mazda Road To Indy race in the second Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race of the Mid-Ohio race weekend. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Neil Alberico won his tenth Mazda Road To Indy race in the second Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race of the Mid-Ohio race weekend. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

It was Alberico’s fourth win of the season, third at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the 10th of his Mazda Road To Indy career.

That start for the second Pro Mazda was delayed 15 minutes as the Holmatro Safety Team had to clean up from one of the two-seaters that fluid down on the front-straight.  The Mazda Renesis rotary engines were fired for the 40 minute race at 9:05am and for the second straight day Garett Grist and Neil Alberico led the 18 car field to the green flag on the back straight.

For the second straight race one of the front row drivers jumped the gun.  This time it was Grist who went early and the starter while initially throwing the green flag waved off the start and brought out the yellow.

Race control reviewed the restart and deemed that Grist had jumped the start.  The 20 year-old was sent to the rear of the field as the race finally got started on Lap 3.  The Juncos Racing sophomore was able to get by half the field to finish his day inside the top 10 in ninth.   It appeared that Grist’s jump start was no worse than Alberico’s yesterday and the penalty was inconsistent and overly severe.

Weiron Tan, who started the race in fifth, tagged the wall in Turn 3 just before the aborted start, but was able to stay out on track and finish in seventh.

Alberico restarted by himself on the front row and he was followed by Timothe Buret and Santiago Urrutia through Turn 4 and “Madness”.    The second place finish is the seventh time podium for the 20 year-old from France in eight natural terrain road course starts.

The biggest mover on the restart was Victor Franzoni who jumped up to fourth from his ninth place starting spot.  The 19 year-old Brazilian was able to hold onto the position and tie his best Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire finish.

On Lap 10 it was Alberico who had a 1.9 second lead over Buret, it was a further 3.1 seconds back to Urrutia, who appeared to be holding up Franzoni, Latorre and Owen who were all running nose-to-tail.

With five minutes to go in the race Alberico had stretched his lead to 4.6 seconds over Buret, who was backing up to Urrutia, it was the No. 23 of Owen who was on the move.

Owen was pressuring Franzoni for fourth when the No. 10 of Florian Latorre hit the barriers in The Carousel and the track went yellow with only a few minutes remaining in the race.  The race ended under yellow with the final results looking like this.

RANK — DRIVER — LAPS COMPLETED

1 Neil Alberico 20

2 Timothe Buret 20

3 Santiago Urrutia 20

4 Victor Franzoni 20

5 Will Owen 20

6 Pato O’Ward 20

7 Weiron Tan 20

8 Dalton Kellett 20

9 Garett Grist 20

10 Jose Gutierrez 20

11 Alessandro Latif 20

12 Daniel Burkett 20

13 Raoul Owens 20

14 Kyle Connery 20

15 Michael Johnson 20

16 Bobby Eberle(E) 20

17 Florian Latorre 17

18 Bob Kaminsky(E) 16

The championship now heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 10-13 for the final two races of the year.