The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire field took to the 2.3 mile 17-Turn Barber Motorsports Park Road Course at a little after 9am for their second race of the weekend.
It was the same front row as yesterday’s race, with Weiron Tan starting inside of Timothe Buret. NOLA Motorsports Park race winner Santiago Urrutia started on the inside of Row 2, while championship leader (by a single point entering the race) rolled off fourth.
The No. 19 car of rookie Raoul Owens would not fire, but the JDC Motorsports crew was able to eventually get it turned over and he was able to rejoin one lap down and ended the race in 15th spot.
After three failed starts in yesterdays first race, it should come as no surprise, that with the same two drivers staring up front that their would be more drama. Tan pushed Buret wide and into the wet grass. Buret was able to keep the No. 6 pointed straight, but he fell to the back of the field.
Tan got to Turn 1 ahead of his competitors, but it was Alberico and Garett Grist who made up positions with brave moves outside of Turn 2. Alberico slotted into second from his fourth starting spot and Grist moved up to fourth from his seventh starting spot.
At the end of the first lap Daniel Burkett went for a wild ride as he got wide at the exit of the final corner and bounced through the wet grass before spinning in front of on-coming traffic where Buret just missed t-boning him. Burkett pitted to repair some damage, but was able to continue on the lead lap and ended up the race in tenth.
While under yellow, it was announced that Tan had been penalized for pushing Buret wide, so the the No. 22 Andretti Autosport machine crossed the line in fifteen for the Lap four restart.
It wasn’t long before the field was under yellow again as the No. 37 of Jay Horak ended up beached in the gravel on the outside of Turn 2. He was restarted, but suffered too much damage to continue.
The green flag flew again on Lap 8 and that was when Tan began an attempted but incident filled march back to the front of the field.
The first incident was between Tan and Kyle Connery. Tan had the inside on Turn 5 and Connery ended up in the grass on the outside of Turn 6. Both drivers lost a few spots, but were able to keep going. I was able to chat with Connery after the race and he wasn’t upset with Tan, and declared it a “racing incident.” I was also happy to hear that his back, which was sore after an encounter with the wall at NOLA Motorsports Park. wasn’t sore after catching air while bumping over the uneven turf.
All this time, Alberico was building a multi-second gap over second place Urrutia, who was busy defending against Grist. Grist explained that because this was such an aero dependent track it was hard to get close enough to make the pass.
Back to the adventures of Tan, who by this time had caught up to his first lap sparring partner Buret. The two touched wheels on the run from Turn 7 to Turn 8 but Tan wisely backed off as he was on the outside going into the quick right-left combo. TSO is surprised that this battle didn’t end with both cars on the “hook.”
Buret was able to get by his teammate Jose Gutierrez for 8th, which left Tan to battle with the No. 7 Juncos Racing machine. Tan hounded the Mexican driver, who was certainly making his car wide. Tan appeared frustrated and attempted a low percentage move into Turn 12 on Lap 13. The Malaysian driver took a little too much curb and just clipped Guttierez before making a lazy spin into the grass between Turn 13 and Turn 14. Guttieriez wasn’t so lucky, as he went for a wild ride through the grass and hit the barriers on the outside of Turn 14.
After the race Grist was pleased with the teams performance. He also said that they received a new Mazda Renesis engine between NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park. TSO was a little surprised by the young Canadian’s lack of similar pace that he had shown in his rookie season, and a down on power engine would explain that.
Similar to after yesterday’s race Urrutia was happy with the points he earned in the race. He explained that he didn’t have the same pace as some of his competitors and he was happy to stay in the championship fight.
Winner Neil Alberico admitted to being a little down early in the weekend when the team was struggling with with pace, but credited his Cape Motorsports with /WTR and Rising Star Racing family with keeping his confidence up. He explained that they (the team and he) had dug a hole early in the weekend but kept digging and that persistence paid off with a win today.
Alberico is looking forward to going back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. His Cape Motorsports with /WTR teammate last year won both races and it was where the team’s season turned around.
Full results are as follows:
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||LAPS COMPLETED|