Indy – Mazda Road To Indy Update #4 – Thursday end of day – Pro Mazda Race #1

By Tony DiZinno

Andretti Autosport’s Weiron Tan took a flag-to-flag victory in the first of three Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in an incident-filled race that still came down to the wire.

Thursday’s race served as a makeup race from what had been the second race at NOLA Motorsports Park, original Round 4.

As such, the grid for the revised Round 6 featured what would have been the starting order for the second NOLA race.

Six drivers of the 21 did not participate with their current team at NOLA and were ordered according to best practice time at Indianapolis. Raoul Owens, who drove for JDC Motorsports at NOLA, has switched to Team Pelfrey and did not retain what would have been a seventh place grid spot achieved with JDC at NOLA.

P No Name FTime
1 22 Weiron Tan 1:34.8686
2 82 Pato O’Ward 1:35.2576
3 81 Santiago Urrutia 1:35.3108
4 10 Florian Latorre 1:35.3125
5 6 Timothe Buret 1:35.3196
6 23 Will Owen 1:35.4579
7 5 Garett Grist 1:35.5335
8 3 Neil Alberico 1:35.6298
9 7 Jose Gutierrez 1:35.7898
10 28 Dalton Kellett 1:35.8072
11 2 Daniel Burkett 1:35.9025
12 14 Alessandro Latif 1:36.3110
13 26 Parker Nicklin 1:38.1121
14 13 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:39.3045
15 91 Kyle Connery 1:56.5033
16 19 Scott Hargrove 1:24.2462
17 21 Victor Franzoni 1:24.2462
18 80 Raoul Owens 1:24.5935
19 44 Kevin Davis(E) 1:26.8184
20 57 Bob Kaminsky(E) 1:27.4215
21 33 Carlos Conde 1:27.4505

The race didn’t get more than a lap in before the first yellow flag flew, for a rollover accident involving Florian Latorre of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing at Turn 2. Despite the accident, he emerged OK after getting out of the car.

Tan led from Timothe Buret, Pato O’Ward, Neil Alberico and Daniel Burkett. Burkett gained six positions in the first lap, with Alessandro Latif gaining five (up to seventh) and Scott Hargrove gaining seven (up to ninth).

The green flew on Lap 4 with Buret chasing Tan, trying both the outside then inside of the Malaysian at Turn 2. He was unable to pass. Alberico briefly got ahead of Buret for second but wasn’t able to hold the position.

A second yellow flew on Lap 6 for contact between Dalton Kellett and Kyle Connery at Turn 7, which pitched Connery into a spin and out of the race. The top three remained the same under yellow with Burkett up to fourth ahead of the Team Pelfrey teammates, Pato O’Ward and Santiago Urrutia.

The next green came at Lap 9 with just over 13 minutes remaining. O’Ward got around Burkett, as did Urrutia, Garett Grist, Latif and Hargrove. The Canadian fell to ninth.

Buret was able to close on Tan in the intervening laps down to 0.6065 of a second, but his charge was halted for the third full-course yellow on Lap 13, caused when Parker Nicklin was stopped on course at Turn 9.

The race resumed with a single last-lap green-and-white flag dash to the finish. Tan held off Buret by 0.5689 of a second, with Alberico third.

Urrutia and Grist, who had made a last lap pass of O’Ward for fifth, completed the top five finishers.

After the race, Tan said restarts were critical. He wanted to build a gap as much as possible knowing the longest straight on the track was ahead. He said IndyCar rubber helped for the afternoon race, but overall track conditions were better in the morning. While he doesn’t feel he has the outright pace compared to the Juncos team this weekend, he felt he maximized points today and learned for the rest of the weekend.

Buret said after his third podium of the season that it was fun to fight with Tan, but with so much yellow, it was difficult to make a move for the win.

Alberico, who started eighth and scored his fourth podium of the year, felt it vital to maximize points and expressed thanks at the NOLA race being made up here. He said the team’s pace is better here, and qualifying better later this weekend will avoid him needing to carve through the field in Rounds 7 and 8.

The full race #1 results are as follows:

P No Name Laps
1 22 Weiron Tan 15
2 6 Timothe Buret 15
3 3 Neil Alberico 15
4 81 Santiago Urrutia 15
5 5 Garett Grist 15
6 82 Pato O’Ward 15
7 19 Scott Hargrove 15
8 23 Will Owen 15
9 2 Daniel Burkett 15
10 21 Victor Franzoni 15
11 28 Dalton Kellett 15
12 7 Jose Gutierrez 15
13 14 Alessandro Latif 15
14 13 Bobby Eberle(E) 15
15 57 Bob Kaminsky(E) 15
16 44 Kevin Davis(E) 15
17 33 Carlos Conde(E) 15
18 80 Raoul Owens 15
19 26 Parker Nicklin 11
20 91 Kyle Connery 4
21 10 Florian Latorre

Pro Mazda is on track next from 12 to 12:45 p.m. Friday afternoon for qualifying, which will set the grid for Round 7.

That will wrap the day’s activities here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Mazda Road to Indy. Thanks for reading, and more to come tomorrow.