Lexington, Ohio – RC Enerson scored a copybook victory in this afternoon’s dramatic Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Powered by Mazda, Round 13 of the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. The teenager from New Port Richey, Fla., qualified his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian Dallara-Mazda IL-15 on the pole and was never headed during the 40-minute race. Enerson thus became the seventh different winner in 13 races.
Max Chilton (Carlin) finished second, while Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) produced by far his best performance of a difficult season to record his first podium finish with third.
The other major story concerned championship rivals Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson), Spencer Pigot (Team Pelfrey) and Ed Jones (Carlin), who all had difficulties and finished well down the order.
A sideways moment for Enerson soon after the start allowed Pigot to make a run for the lead in Turn Six. Moments later, in attempting to make up ground after initially falling back from his front row starting position, Harvey and Pigot made contact in Turn Seven, with Pigot’s right-front wheel making light contact with Harvey’s left-rear. It was enough to send Harvey into a wild ride across the grass into the tires, and thence to pit lane for repairs to his left-rear suspension. Pigot also ducked into the pits for a new right-front tire, and struggled thereafter with deranged steering. He could manage no better than eighth at the finish.
Harvey, meanwhile, who finished back in 11th, took advantage of a fresh set of Cooper tires to set a new Indy Lights track record of 1:11.5804, an average speed of 113.562 mph. Harvey thus claimed the bonus point for fastest lap and ensured himself the pole for tomorrow’s Round 14.
Jones fared no better. The Englishman moved as high as sixth before making a pit stop to check for damage after making light contact with Schmidt Peterson’s Scott Anderson. He, too, took on a fresh set of tires and posted a lap fast enough to ensure a position on the outside of the front row for tomorrow’s race.
Felix Serralles (Belardi Auto Racing) ran second in the early stages until his car abruptly cut out, causing him to come to a halt out on the race track and necessitating a full-course caution. Chilton overtook Blackstock for what was now second place immediately after the restart. He eventually finished just 2.4 seconds behind Enerson.
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) shadowed Blackstock to the finish for fourth ahead of Sean Rayhall (8Star Motorsports), who made up for a poor qualifying run by rising from 12th on the grid to fifth. Rayhall also snagged the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award for the manner in which he leapfrogged both Ethan Ringel (Schmidt Peterson) and Jones at the start.
Round 14 of the 16 that comprise Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this year will start tomorrow at 10:30 AM ET. Harvey now holds a 16-point lead, 289-273, over Pigot, with Jones just three points behind Pigot in third. Enerson has closed to within 24 points of Jones in fourth.
RC Enerson (#7 Lucas oil/Curb Records-Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian): “I wanted to get a good start and see where things shook out after the first couple of corners. Once I was in the lead, it was kind of easy to look forward, to push for better lap times and focus on what I was doing, rather than have to worry about what people in front of me were doing. It’s much easier to lead! This is a tough track for restarts, as close as the start stand is to the final corner, so I tried to find a place to go to power where no one else could. I needed to get far enough ahead so Max wouldn’t be able to attack going into the first few turns, and I was able to do that. I was really planning for this to be a learning year, so I’m very happy to get this first win for the team!”