After suffering a hard crash at the exit of Turn 13 during practice on Friday, JDC Motorsports driver Kyle Connery took a trip to the hospital complaining of back pain. He underwent precautionary tests and was released from the hospital later that evening, and was cleared to drive by INDYCAR medical officials His JDC Motorsports team thrashed to get his car ready for this morning’s race, and after missing qualifying started at the rear of the field.
Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire Race #1
The first group out on track is often know as “dew sweepers”, however with a wet track and a 7:55am start, the Pro Mazda field were the “worm sweepers” for the final day of action at NOLA Motorsports Park.
After a successful opening weekend at St. Petersburg that saw him score a second and fourth place, rookie Santiago Urrutia of Team Pelfrey made the jump to the top step of the podium.
Engines for the 20 minute timed race fired at 7:56am and after two pace laps (to give the drivers a chance to find the standing water) Andretti Autosport’s Weiron Tan led a single file column of Mazda powered machines to the green flag.
The field got through T1 clean and remained in their qualifying order until Urrutia, who started second popped out at T10 and made a clean pass to the inside of Tan. The biggest first lap mover was Dalton Kellett who ended the first lap in 9th after starting the race in 11th.
Championship leader Neil Alberico started the race in 9th and drove a smart race to move up three spots and come home in 6th. A good points haul, considering how much the Cape Motorsports with /WTR team has been struggling this weekend.
By the fourth lap Urrutia had built up a 1.1 second lead over Tan. Further back in the field reigning USF2000 champion Florian Latorre, who started the race in the third spot, began to lose spots, falling prey to Timothe Buret and Pato O’Ward.
There were a number of spins in the 11-lap race, but they were all single car incidents and none of them necessitated a yellow flag. Which is a good thing, considering these same drivers are slated to be taking to the track for an 11:45am race. The spinners included: Parker Nicklin, Will Owen, Raoul Owens, Garett Grist, and Kyle Connery. All of them were able to get going and Grist was able to get back up to 11th position.
During the middle portion of the race, Tan started to catch the Uruguayan Urrutia, closing the gap to seven tenths of a second before Tan made a mistake on Lap 10 and fell back to over 4 seconds back.
Urrutia certainly isn’t a familiar name to U.S. race fans. He has spent the last few years in Europe, competing in Formula Abarth and GP3. He told TSO that he moved to Mazda Road To Indy because of the lower cost to race, the clear path to the top and the opportunity to win Mazda Racing scholarships.
While Tan would have preferred the win, he said that he was happy to be back on the podium, and that he would prefer to forget his miserable weekend at St. Pete (he came to NOLA last in points).
The quickest lap of the race was turned by 15 year-old Team Pelfrey rookie Pato O’Ward at 1:52.890.
The biggest mover of the race was Kellett who gained five spots from his 11th place starting spot to finish in 7th.
Pro Mazda Race #1 Results
|POSITION||CAR NO.||DRIVER||BEHIND LEADER|
|1||81||Santiago Urrutia||11 Laps|
Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda Race #2
There wasn’t much of a break before the 16 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda entries took to the 2.74 mile 13-Turn circuit.
Engines for the 25 minute timed race fired at 8:34am and like the Pro Mazda field before them, the USF2000 drivers were afforded two pace laps to determine where wettest spots on the track were.
Aaron Telitz, who was on pole by virtue of scoring the quickest lap in yesterday’s race, brought the single-file field to the green flag to start the second USF2000 race of the weekend. The field made it through T1 cleanly and the biggest mover was the No. 80 of Canadian rookie Parker Thompson.
Thompson’s big move was short-lived as he spun in Turn 10 and fell down the field to 10th. Thompson was able to make a nice recovery to finish the race in a season best 4th position.
JDC Motorsports rookie Anthony Martin was the big mover on the first lap, going from 10th to 5th.
At the end of the second lap Telitz held a slim 0.333 second lead over Victor Franzoni. Franzoni made a move a to get by the Cape Motorsports with /WTR sophomore going into Turn 3, but was unsuccessful. But it didn’t take Franzoni long to get by Telitz as the Wisconsin native broke a half-shaft in Turn 4 and was stranded just off the racing surface.
The track went yellow for four laps while they retrieved the No. 3 of Telitz. The top 5 when they went back to green on lap 7 was: Franzoni, Eidson, Jamin, Rickards, and Martin.
On the restart, Jamin was able to get by Eidson for second spot, and Rickards went off at T8 while being pressured by Thompson for 4th.
The closest Jamin was able to get to Franzoni was 0.7 seconds and the lead was 0.9 seconds when the leaders to the green flag on Lap 10. Jamin poked his nose inside Franzoni in T4 and T10 on the final lap, but was not able to make either pass stick.
The JDC Motorsports rookies, Martin and Lloyd, waged a great battle on the final lap with the No. 33 of Martin pipping the No. 94 of Lloyd by only a tenth of a second.
After the race Franzoni was very thankful that his crew worked until 11pm last night to change the 2.0 L Mazda MZR engine in his No. 17 Afterburner Autosport car.
Jamin and Franzoni battled in the rain during the Cooper Tires Winterfest rounds at Barber Motorsports Park and again at St. Petersburg two weeks ago. They both had big grins on their faces while they were talking about how much fun it was.
Franzoni attributed his prowess in the rain to being a “feel” driver. He likened wet weather driving to racing on an oval. He said “you have to push, push, push, while driving just on the limit.”
Franzoni’s lap time of 1:57.263 on lap 11 was the quickest of the race.
The biggest movers of the race were Martin and Augie Lerch, who both moved up five spots.
This was the 6th consecutive podium for current championship leader Eidson.
USF2000 Race #2 Results
|POSTION||CAR NO.||DRIVER||BEHIND LEADER|
|1||17||Victor Franzoni||11 Laps|
|7||5||Keyvan Andres Soori||30.0686|
|16||3||Aaron Telitz||9 Laps|