Archives for TSO MRTI Coverage

My Mazda Road To Indy – Aaron Telitz – post 2015 recap

My Mazda Road to Indy:  Aaron Telitz PALMETTO, Fla. – Few drivers can claim the ability to filet a bluegill in 25 seconds, but that statistic begins to tell the story of Wisconsin native Aaron Telitz who grew up on a fishing resort and began cleaning fish for resort guests at the age of 8….

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My Mazda Road to Indy: Will Owen

A weekly series providing an inside look at drivers involved in the Mazda Road to Indy, the only driver development program of its type in the world. My Mazda Road to Indy: Will Owen To win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a career highlight for all race car drivers. For Pro Mazda Championship Presented…

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Prizes Totaling Over $2.3 Million Distributed at Mazda Road to Indy Banquet

Prizes Totaling Over $2.3 Million Distributed at Mazda Road to Indy Banquet Monterey, Calif. (September 15, 2015) – Scholarship prizes and awards totaling more than $2.3 million were distributed during last night’s Championship Celebration banquet at the Monterey Plaza Hotel following another hugely successful Mazda Road to Indy season which concluded this past weekend at…

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Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Sunday – Pro Mazda Race #2 report and results

Santiago Urrutia wrapped up the Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship for winning the championship on Saturday, but there was still a lot to race for as evidenced by the march up the final points table made this weekend by Garett Grist.

Grist, a 20 year-old, made a daring first lap move stick, and scored his second win of the weekend. The Grimsby, Ontario native started the day in fifth place in points, but the extra markers he earned for the victory moved him past Weiron Tan and Timothe Buret to finish the season in third place.

The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series was the first Mazda Road To Indy series to take to the green flag on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Road Course.

After suffering significant damage in a incident before the green flag yesterday, the No. 21 of Victor Franzoni did not start today’s race.

After a brief delay for some course repairs in Turn 5, championship winner Santiago Urrutia led the 18 Mazda powered cars to the green flag just after noon.

After an incident before the start finish line yesterday the field was aligned perfect two by two as they took the green flag and streamed towards the Andretti Hairpin.

Yesterday’s winner Garett Grist was able to get inside of Urrutia and made a clean pass for the lead. The brake smoke and dust flew behind them, but everybody managed to make it safely through the tight left-hander.

The disappointing season for Florian Latorre, last years USF2000 champion continued as his car ground to a halt between Turn 5 and Turn 6 after contact with Weiron Tan.

The first yellow flag of the day flew just after the first lap so that the Holmatro Safety Team could retrieve Latorre and his wounded Soul Red No. 10.

The biggest movers on the first lap were Pato O’Ward (14th to 7th) and Dalton Kellett (9th to 5th).

The course went green again on Lap 4 with Urrutia shadowing the Juncos Racing machine of Grist into Turn 2. Urrutia made a last minute dive to inside of Grist and the No 82’s front wing made contact with the rear diffuser of the No. 5.

Grist said he was worried that he might have suffered some damage, but is was Urritia who damaged the front wing on the Team Pelfrey car. Urrutia explained that the damage really hurt in the high speed corners and he complemented Grist on driving error free in front of him.

Behind the leaders, Raoul Owens who was running eighth, had contact and ended up up-side down in the gravel trap, and the course went yellow for the second time. He exited the No. 80 Team Pelfrey machine under his own power and was uninjured.

The field took the green flag for the third time with just ten minutes left in the race. Michael Johnson spun coming out of Turn 11 but was able to keep going and this time the strung out field was able to get through Turn 2 cleanly and run three laps under green conditions.

Grist was able to build up a two second lead over Urritia who was nursing a damaged front wing before the yellow flag flew for the third time when Alessandro Latif had contact on the backside of the circuit.

The car of Latif was removed quickly and the the green and white flag flew on Lap 13. It was the third time that Grist would lead the field to a restart and once again he was able to hold off a challenge from Urrutia, who was facing his own challenge from Neil Alberico who juked to the inside in an attempt out-brake Urrutia, but the field held station over the final lap as the checkers flew on another successful Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire season.

The win was the third of the year for Grist, his fifth in Pro Mazda and sixth overall Mazda Road To Indy win.

Neil Alberico’s third place finish was his eighth podium in 2015 and marks the 21st time he’s stood on a Mazda Road To Indy podium.

Final results:

RANK — DRIVER — LAPS COMPLETED
1 Garett Grist 14
2 Santiago Urrutia 14
3 Neil Alberico 14
4 Will Owen 14
5 Dalton Kellett 14
6 Pato O’Ward 14
7 Timothe Buret 14
8 Jose Gutierrez 14
9 Weiron Tan 14
10 Kyle Connery 14
11 Daniel Burkett 14
12 Parker Nicklin 14
13 Michael Johnson 14
14 Bobby Eberle(E) 14
15 Alessandro Latif 10
16 Raoul Owens 4
17 Jay Horak(E) 1
18 Florian Latorre —
19 Victor Franzoni —

Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Sunday – open, Indy Lights points possibilities and starting line-ups

Good Morning from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where we were treated to a spectacular sunrise.

Sunrise over Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this morning (photo by Steve Wittich)

Sunrise over Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this morning (photo by Steve Wittich)

Today’s schedule features the final three Mazda Road To Indy races of the season.

  • 11:40am-12:20pm — Pro Mazda Race
  • 2:40pm-3:40pm — Indy Lights Race
  • 4pm – 4:40pm – USF2000 Race

The series are racing for a total of $2.3 million in Mazda season-ending awards including three advancement scholarships for the series champions.  Two of the prize winners were decided yesterday.

Nico Jamin claimed a $381,000 total scholarship for winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship

Santiago Urrutia claimed a $590,300 scholarship for winning the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship

However, the biggest award has yet to be decided.  On of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship contenders, Spencer Pigot, Jack Harvey or Ed Jones, will walk away with a $1,000,000 scholarship that includes a guaranteed chance to qualify for the 100th Indianapolis 500 among a three race Verizon IndyCar Series package.

Coming into the weekend it was Harvey who held a slight six point championship edge, but Pigot broke a ten race Mazda Raceway run (dating back to 1992) that saw Indy Lights race winners come from the front row, when he won from inside the second row.  Pigot’s fifth win of the year combined with Harvey’s fifth place finish give the Rising Star Racing sponsored pilot an eight point lead heading into this afternoon’s 38 lap (or 60 minute) finale.

TSO can’t emphasize enough much pressure is on these drivers and teams.  Winning the scholarship can be the beginning of a long Indy Car career and falling just short could very well spell the end of a driver’s open wheel dreams.

The tension has been high since the teams and drivers arrived at the iconic circuit on Thursday, and the intensity has been amped up hour-after-hour.

The hardware for winning the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship (photo by Steve Wittich)

The hardware for winning the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship (photo by Steve Wittich)

The easiest championship scenarios are as follows.

Pigot:

  • if he finishes first or second he wins the championship
  • if he finishes third and Harvey does not score any bonus points he wins the championship
  • if he finishes fourth he could win the championship if Harvey finishes second or worse
  • if he finishes fifth he could win the championship if Harvey finishes second or worse
  • if he finishes sixth he could win the championship if Harvey finishes third or worse
  • if he finishes seventh he could win the championship if Harvey finishes third or worse
  • if he finishes eighth he could win the championship if Harvey finishes fourth or worse
  • if he finishes ninth he could win the championship if Harvey finishes fourth or worse
  • if he finishes 10th he could win the championship if Harvey finishes fourth or worse
  • if he finishes 11th he could win the championship if Harvey finishes fifth or worse
  • if he finishes 12th he could win the championship if Harvey finishes fifth or worse
  • if he finishes 13th he could win the championship if Harvey finishes sixth or worse

Harvey:

  • if he wins and Pigot finishes fourth or worse
  • if he wins and scores more bonus points (than Pigot) and Pigot finishes third
  • if he finishes second he could win the championship if Pigot finishes fourth or worse
  • if he finishes third he could win the championship if Pigot finishes seventh or worse
  • if he finishes fourth he could win the championship if Pigot finishes tenth or worse
  • if he finishes fifth he could win the championship if Pigot finishes twelfth or worse

Jones:

if he wins, he needs Pigot to finish 10th or worse and Harvey to finish fifth or worse.

Indy Lights starting line-up:

  1.  Max Chilton
  2. Spencer Pigot
  3. Kyle Kaiser
  4. Jack Harvey
  5. Ed Jones
  6. Sean Rayhall
  7. Felix Serralles
  8.  Shelby Blackstock
  9. RC Enerson
  10. Juan Piedrahita
  11. Scott Anderson
  12. Ethan Ringel
  13. Heamin Choi

Pro Mazda starting line-up:

  1. Santiago Urrutia
  2.  Garett Grist
  3.  Neil Alberico
  4.  Will Owen
  5.  Timothe Buret
  6. Florian Latorre
  7. Jose Gutierrez
  8. Weiron Tan
  9. Dalton Kellett
  10. Daniel Burkett
  11.  Victor Franzoni
  12. Kyle Connery
  13.  Raoul Owens
  14.  Pato O’Ward
  15. Parker Nicklin
  16. Michael Johnson
  17. Alessandro Latif
  18.  Bobby Eberle
  19. Jay Horak

USF2000 starting line up:

  1. Nico Jamin
  2. Aaron Telitz
  3. Jake Eidson
  4. Anthony Martin
  5.  Luke Gabin
  6. Nikita Lastochkin
  7. Ayla Agren
  8. Garth Rickards
  9. Peter Portante
  10. Keyvan Andres Soori
  11. Parker Thompson
  12. Yufeng Luo
  13. Robert Alon
  14. Max Hanratty
  15. James Dayson

Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Saturday – Pro Mazda Race #1

Not very often in racing does the same race have two winners, but today’s Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire did just that.  Garett Grist won his second race of the year, but the big winner was Santiago Urrutia who clinched the championship with a second place finish and a second last DNF by his closest champion ship contender Neil Alberico

For the fourth time in five races it was Juncos Racing sophomore Garett Grist that led 19 Mazda Renesis powered cars to the green flag, but as the field exited the final corner chaos ensued and the start was waved off.

Timothe Buret jumped out of line from his fifth starting spot causing chaos and contact behind him that involved Weiron Tan, Pato O’Ward, Dalton Kellett, Kyle Connery and Victor Franzoni.  The cars of Franzoni and O’Ward suffered significant damage and were unable to continue while Tan, Kellet and Connery were able to continue.

Buret was penalized for jumping the start and had to move to the back of the grid.

After a ten minute clean-up the field finally took the green and Buret once again jumped the start.  This time the young French Juncos Racing rookie was given a drive-thru penalty for jumping the start.

Grist led the field to the Andretti Hairpin and his Juncos Racing teammate Will Owen was able to follow him down the inside to pass Urrutia for second.    Owen made a mistake and was unable to hold on to the position as he was passed by Urrutia and Alberico.

At this point, the race settled into a rhythm with Grist holding a comfortable 1.8 to 2.8 second lead over Urrutia for the remaining 13 laps.  Alberico, who desperately needed to get past Urrutia if he had any hope of catching the 19 year-old Uruguayan was unable to get closer than 1.5 seconds.

With Urrutia in second and Alberico in third the point gap would have been 32 points, meaning that the championship fight would just barely move to Sunday.  However Alberico had an issue in The Corkscrew coming to the white flag lap.

After clinching the championship, Urrutia stopped his No. 82 Team Pelfrey machine in Turn 4 to collect a Uruguayan flag from a course marshall.

Complete Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire Race #1 results

RANK — DRIVER — LAPS COMPLETED

1 Garett Grist 18

2 Santiago Urrutia 18

3 Will Owen 18

4 Jose Gutierrez 18

5 Weiron Tan 18

6 Dalton Kellett 18

7 Raoul Owens 18

8 Florian Latorre 18

9 Daniel Burkett 18

10 Michael Johnson 18

11 Timothe Buret 18

12 Alessandro Latif 18

13 Parker Nicklin 18

14 Bobby Eberle(E) 18

15 Jay Horak(E) 18

16 Neil Alberico 16

17 Kyle Connery 16

18 Pato O’Ward —

19 Victor Franzoni —

More in bit after the Indy Lights race

Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Pro Mazda and Indy Lights qualifying results and notes

Good morning from a foggy Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After being unseasonably warm the last two days, it appears that the weather “broke” overnight and it will cooler today. It was “only” 57F when I arrived at the track at 7:15am and the high is supposed to top out at 74F.

I lied when I said I would be heading down to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner last night. My dining partner and I ended up joining a larger group of Mazda Road To Indy people at the Esteban Restaurant at the Casa Munras Garden Hotel and Spa.

Our group had a unanimous opinion on dinner. The food was terrific, the company was great, but the service was extremely lacking.

I started out with a glass of tradition Spanish red wine sangria, made with red wine, apples, lemons, limes and oranges. I had Medjool Dates (dates wrapped in blue cheese and bacon) as my starter, and Paella del Mar as my main dish. The sweetness of the dates combined with the saltiness of the blue cheese and bacon was perfect.
The Paella was terrific, it featured chorizo, prawns, mussels and clams on a bed of rice.

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Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire qualifying

For the third straight Pro Mazda race, Garett Grist will start on pole. The 20 year-old Canadian used a last lap flyer to steal the one championship point for winning the pole from Santiago Urrutia.

The sun broke through the fog just in time for Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire qualifying to begin just a little late at 8:05am.

Sixteen of the nineteen entries took to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn natural terrain road course when the green flag flew for qualifying. The lone holdouts were Santiago Urrutia, Pato O’Ward and Raoul Owens. The Team Pelfrey trio waited five minutes before heading out together.

Ten minutes into the session and the top five spots were held by: Timothe Buret, Weiron Tan, Florian Latorre, Neil Alberico, and Will Owen.

With eighteen minutes left in the session Weiron Tan hit the tire barrier and rolled his car at the exit of Turn 8 (The Corksrew). Thankfully, the Malaysian driver was able to get out of the car under his own power and was immediately checked and cleared to drive, but the Andretti Autosport crew will have a lot work to do to get ready for the first Pro Mazda race at 2:45pm.

The track was red for ten minutes while the track crews repaired the tires and cleaned up the mess from Tan’s incident.

The track went green with only eight minutes left in the session and got extremely busy as drivers tried to get their tires back up to temperature.

With three minutes left in the session the top five were: Will Owen, Timothe Buret, Santiago Urrutia, Florian Latorre and Garett Grist, but the times were changing very quickly as each driver crossed the time line.

With just under a minute left in the session, championship leader Urrutia jumped to the top of the charts, but it was Grist who was able to cross the timing line behind

This is Grist’s fourth pole this season and the sixth in his Mazda Road To Indy career.

This is fourth race that Urrutia will start outside the front row.

Here is the final results of Pro Mazda qualifying:

RANK — DRIVER — QUICKEST LAP
1 Garett Grist 1:22.879
2 Santiago Urrutia 1:22.950
3 Will Owen 1:23.251
4 Neil Alberico 1:23.315
5 Timothe Buret 1:23.373
6 Florian Latorre 1:23.441
7 Jose Gutierrez 1:23.563
8 Pato O’Ward 1:23.738
9 Dalton Kellett 1:23.753
10 Weiron Tan 1:23.863
11 Victor Franzoni 1:23.946
12 Raoul Owens 1:24.032
13 Kyle Connery 1:24.099
14 Daniel Burkett 1:24.300
15 Parker Nicklin 1:25.248
16 Alessandro Latif 1:25.540
17 Michael Johnson 1:26.036
18 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:27.006
19 Jay Horak(E) 1:28.562

The first Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race of the weekend will take place at 2:45pm.

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Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire qualifying

The four drivers who are eligible to win the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship will have some work to do doing this afternoon’s race after Max Chilton and Kyle Kaiser waged a back and forth battle for pole, but it was the Formula 1 veteran Chilton who came out on top.

Spencer Pigot, who qualified third, is followed closely by Jones in fourth and Harvey in fifth.  “Game On” for the championship.  RC Enerson, the fourth driver eligible for the championship will have even more work to to do after he qualified eighth.

Chilton was very surprised that they were able to go 1.5 seconds quicker during qualifying than in practice yesterday.  The 24 year old thinks that his pole lap was his best lap of the year.   The Redgate, England native, who has a win and two seconds in the last three races is looking to keep the momentum going and score a double win this weekend.

Kaiser, who is from nearby Santa Clara, has turned a lot of laps at Mazda Raceway in Skip Barber, Pro Mazda and the SCCA run-offs, and would like to end his year with at least one win.

Both drivers have teammates in the championship hunt, but both drivers expressed that personal goals are more important and they will be trying to win both races.

The most important thirty minutes of the year in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire session started a few minutes late as the track crews cleaned up for a hectic Pro Mazda qualifying session.

As TSO pointed out, with the last 13 Indy Lights winners coming from the front row, qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is VERY important.

One third of the way through the half-hour session and the top five were: Spencer Pigot, Kyle Kaiser, RC Enerson, Felix Serralles and Max Chilton.    The other championship contenders sat sixth (Jack Harvey) and eighth (Ed Jones).

Times continued to creep towards the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Indy Lights track record of 1:15.090 that was set by Tony Kanaan in 1997.

The 18 year-old track record fell with just over ten minutes remaining when Max Chilton turned a hot lap at 1:14.828.

The final time sheet saw the top six drivers under Kanaan’s old track record.

With ten minutes left in the session the top five were: Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot, and  Sean Rayhall.

Things started to get interesting with five minutes left in qualifying when championship contenders made their moves.  Spencer Pigot jumped to the top of the chards and Jack Harvey and Ed Jones moved into the top five.

Kaiser immediately took the top spot from his teammate, but only held it for a half a lap as Chilton jumped back to the top of the timing sheet.

That is Chilton’s second pole of the season, with the first one coming at Iowa Speedway.

This will be Kaiser’s first front row start in Indy Lights.

RANK — DRIVER — QUICK LAP

1 Max Chilton 1:14.233

2 Kyle Kaiser 1:14.359

3 Spencer Pigot 1:14.393

4 Ed Jones 1:14.630

5 Jack Harvey 1:14.958

6 Sean Rayhall 1:15.025

7 Felix Serralles 1:15.204

8 RC Enerson 1:15.311

9 Shelby Blackstock 1:15.448

10 Juan Piedrahita 1:15.818

11 Scott Anderson 1:16.193

12 Ethan Ringel 1:16.289

13 Heamin Choi 1:16.926

The first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire race will take place at 3:45pm

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Don’t forget that RoadToIndy.TV is live streaming all of the race action on Saturday and Sunday. Catch it here:

<iframe src=”http://livestream.com/accounts/14767548/events/4331887/player?width=640&amp;height=360&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=false” width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”> </iframe>

… or you can watch on the RoadToIndy.TV app – available via Android  or Apple iOS.

Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Friday – 2nd practice session, USF2000 qualifying and other news

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda qualifying

For the eleventh straight USF2000 race Nico Jamin will start on pole. It’s also his 12th of the season which is a series record that was previously set by Sage Karam in 2010.

It is also the 9th straight race that some 12th time in 15 races that

The green flag dropped on qualifying for the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda drivers at exactly 4:55pm under partly cloudy skies.

All 15 drivers immediately took to the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track for the half-hour session on sticker Cooper racing slicks.

One third of the way through the session and Aaron Telitz was 0.2 seconds ahead of his Cape Motorsports with /WTR teammate and championship leader Nico Jamin. No surprise that the third of the terrific trio, Jake Eidson had the third quickest time.

With ten minutes left in the qualifying session it was still Telitz, Jamin on top, but rookie Anthony Martin that had moved ahead of Eidson.

Not soon after that Nico Jamin took back the top spot from Telitz and Eidson was able to sneak back into the top three.

The first USF2000 race of the weekend will take place tomorrow at 10:30am (Pacific).

The complete qualfiying results are below:

RANK — DRIVER — QUICK LAP
1 Nico Jamin 1:25.735
2 Aaron Telitz 1:25.898
3 Jake Eidson 1:26.208
4 Anthony Martin 1:26.292
5 Luke Gabin 1:26.754
6 Nikita Lastochkin 1:26.774
7 Ayla Agren 1:27.037
8 Garth Rickards 1:27.054
9 Peter Portante 1:27.137
10 Parker Thompson 1:27.593
11 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:27.668
12 Yufeng Luo 1:27.918
13 Robert Alon 1:28.205
14 James Dayson 1:29.051
15 Max Hanratty 1:29.277

 

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire practice #2

As TSO expected, the variation in times during the morning Indy Lights session was due to different tire strategies. Each driver gets four fresh sets of Cooper slicks for the event, and are allowed to carry tires over from testing.

Most engineers and drivers we talked to between sessions were hoping that they would be able to carry all four new sets into qualifying tomorrow morning, but that proved to be optimistic as most teams made the switch to sticker tires ten minutes into the final half hour session.

I spent the majority of time on pit lane during the session and the most common change being made was rear damper adjustments.

Now the engineers and drivers will spend the night pouring over date and hope they make the right changes before qualifying at 8:45am (Pacific) tomorrow morning.

Here is the final practice session times:

RANK — DRIVER — BEST LAP TIME — TOTAL LAPS TURNED
1 Max Chilton 1:15.872 14
2 Ed Jones 1:16.045 16
3 RC Enerson 1:16.599 17
4 Shelby Blackstock 1:16.713 16
5 Jack Harvey 1:16.978 16
6 Ethan Ringel 1:16.985 17
7 Kyle Kaiser 1:16.998 11
8 Spencer Pigot 1:17.401 11
9 Sean Rayhall 1:17.677 6
10 Scott Anderson 1:18.219 8
11 Felix Serralles 1:18.442 11
12 Juan Piedrahita 1:18.632 16
13 Heamin Choi 1:19.272 17

==========

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire practice #2

Nineteen Mazda Renesis powered Pro Mazda machines took to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course at 3:25pm for their second half-hour practice session of the day.

Half-way through the half-hour practice and the top 10 were: Will Owen, Santiago Urrutia, Neil Alberico, Raoul Owens, Timothe Buret, Kyle Connery, Weiron Tan, Alessandro Latif, Dalton Kellett and Florian Latorre.

Unlike the first Pro Mazda session this morning, this thirty minute session ran green the entire time allowing drivers and engineers to dial in their set-ups before qualifying bright and early tomorrow morning at 8am.

The full time-sheet for the practice session is a follows:

RANK — DRIVER — BEST LAP TIME — TOTAL LAPS TURNED
1 Will Owen 1:23.424 11
2 Weiron Tan 1:23.941 16
3 Garett Grist 1:24.040 15
4 Santiago Urrutia 1:24.132 15
5 Florian Latorre 1:24.806 9
6 Neil Alberico 1:24.815 10
7 Raoul Owens 1:24.912 17
8 Alessandro Latif 1:25.334 16
9 Michael Johnson 1:25.386 17
10 Timothe Buret 1:25.433 17
11 Kyle Connery 1:25.500 14
12 Dalton Kellett 1:25.778 12
13 Jose Gutierrez 1:25.858 12
14 Parker Nicklin 1:25.971 8
15 Daniel Burkett 1:26.852 11
16 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:27.910 17
17 Jay Horak(E) 1:28.038 19
18 Pato O’Ward 1:31.963 3
19 Victor Franzoni No Time —

==========

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda practice #2

The second USF2000 session of the day began at 1:30pm after a one hour lunch break for the track workers.

Halfway through the session and the top 10 were: Ayla Agren, Jake Eidson, Nikita Lastochkin, Aaron Telitz, Nico Jamin, Luke Gabin, Anthony Martin, Parker Thompson, Keyvan Andres Soori, and Garth Rickards.

The entire 30 minute session was clean and green.

The complete times for the session are as follows.

RANK — DRIVER — BEST LAP TIME — TOTAL LAPS TURNED
1 Nico Jamin 1:25.489 10
2 Luke Gabin 1:26.276 18
3 Aaron Telitz 1:26.765 10
4 Garth Rickards 1:26.920 18
5 Ayla Agren 1:27.296 20
6 Jake Eidson 1:27.407 13
7 Parker Thompson 1:27.473 18
8 Nikita Lastochkin 1:27.689 19
9 Anthony Martin 1:28.629 13
10 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:28.814 18
11 Yufeng Luo 1:29.019 8
12 Robert Alon 1:29.308 12
13 Peter Portante 1:29.326 12
14 Max Hanratty 1:29.893 18
15 James Dayson 1:30.181 18

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It’s great to see the familiar faces and orange and black Chevrolets of the Holmatro Safety Team here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  Mazda Road To Indy promoter Dan Andersen determined that it was important to have them present this weekend and paid for IndyCar’s most important team to make the trip.  Also making the trip was the IndyCar timing and scoring team.

The familiar orange and black Chevrolets of the Holmatro Safety Team made the trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Mazda Road To Indy  finales (photo by Steve Wittich)

The familiar orange and black Chevrolets of the Holmatro Safety Team made the trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Mazda Road To Indy finales (photo by Steve Wittich)

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TSO had a chance to chat with Trevor Carlin, Racing Director at Carlin this morning.  The newest Indy Lights team boss said that they have enjoyed their first season in the U.S.A., and that racing on the this “side of the pond” really isn’t all that different from racing in Europe.  He confirmed that the team would like to add at least one car next year, and would ideally like to double the size of the team to four cars.

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It’s easy to forget sometimes how lean these Mazda Road To Indy teams have run to make it to each event.

John Cummiskey Racing is a perfect example of how a small teams can punch above their weight. Unless disaster strikes, John Cummiskey Racing driver Anthony Martin will finish the year as the top rookie and in fourth place overall in the championship.

John Cummiskey Racing's rookie Anthony Martin makes his way around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

John Cummiskey Racing’s rookie Anthony Martin makes his way around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The one-car team has five team members this weekend, including driver Martin.

Cummiskey, who’s background includes chief mechanic stints at Team Penske and Team Green Racing, is joined this weekend by engineer Louis D’Agostino, a truck driver, and a local mechanic that he worked with in IndyCar (hired for just this weekend).

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Word around the paddock is that one of the big-two Verizon IndyCar Series teams is evaluating starting an Indy Lights team to the point that they have been contacting potential drivers.

 

Mazda Road To Indy #SoulRedFinale – Friday – 11am – Open and first practice

Good morning from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where each rung of the Mazda Road To Indy will have two half-hour practice sessions and the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda will qualify this afternoon.

I woke up early to a light marine layer and after grabbing some caffeine and breakfast, I made the fifteen minute drive to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  The marine layer quickly dissipated as I climbed the hill to the historic circuit.

Last night, I joined a couple of friends in the Cannery Row district of Monterey for dinner.   This is my first trip to Monterey, so I’m pretty excited to check out all of the typical “tourist” type areas.  The five by three block Cannery Row district is a collection of restaurants, shops and hotels built within the maze of old sardine canneries that once employed over 8,000 people.  Unfortunately the sardines were overfished and the last cannery shut down in 1973, but the legend of the area lives on in John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row.

Cannery row in Monterey, California (photo by Steve Wittich)

Cannery row in Monterey, California (photo by Steve Wittich)

The three of us decided to hit up the Cannery Row Brewing Company and that was definitely a great choice.  The “gastro-pub” has a diverse menu and over 70 different beers on tap.

I went with the Short Rib Grilled Cheese and wasn’t disappointed.  A perfectly braised short-rib was smothered in roasted tomato, glazed red onion, arugula, goat cheese, provolone, pickled peppers and jalapeños, and surrounded by a traditional San Francisco sour dough.

My sandwich was unique and tasty, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was little jealous of my dinning partners choice of Fisherman’s Stew.  A huge bowl of Tomato-Safforn Broth was heaping with clams, mussels, calamari and other fish.  I had to keep telling myself that I would be having seafood during a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf tonight.

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Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda practice #1

The first of two half-hour practice sessions for the 15 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda drivers began at 9am under sunny skies and warming temperatures.

The top 10 half-way through the session were: Jake Eidson, Luke Gabin, Nico Jamin, Aaron Telitz, Garth Rickards, Yufeng Luo, Ayla Agren, Peter Portante, Anthony Martin and Keyvan Andres Soori.

The entire half-hour session was run under green flag conditions.

Here is the full session time sheet.

RANK — DRIVER — BEST LAP TIME — TOTAL LAPS TURNED

1 Jake Eidson 1:26.207 16

2 Luke Gabin 1:26.630 17

3 Nico Jamin 1:26.637 13

4 Aaron Telitz 1:26.677 15

5 Garth Rickards 1:27.371 18

6 Yufeng Luo 1:27.376 15

7 Ayla Agren 1:27.634 18

8 Peter Portante 1:27.835 16

9 Anthony Martin 1:27.845 13

10 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:27.895 19

11 Parker Thompson 1:28.103 14

12 Nikita Lastochkin 1:28.106 8

13 James Dayson 1:29.132 19

14 Robert Alon 1:29.184 16

15 Max Hanratty 1:29.314 17

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Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire practice #1

The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series took to the track for their first half hour practice session of the weekend at 9:45am.

The circuit quickly went red when the No. 91 JDC Motorsports machine of Kyle Connery came to a stop just after Turn 6 going up the hill towards The Corkscrew. He was brought back to the pits by the Holmatro Safety Team and was able to get back out on track and turn 7 laps, and the sixth best lap time.

Halfway through the session and the top 10 were: Pato O’Ward, Santiago Urrutia, Jose Gutierrez, Will Owen, Garett Grist, Weiron Tan, Raoul Owens, Timothe Buret, Florian Latorre and Neil Alberico.

Much of the session involved Pato O’Ward, Raoul Owens and Santiago Urrutia trading the top spot on the time sheets. The Team Pelfrey rookie trio also led yesterday’s testing.

With six minutes remaining in the session the track went red again when the No. 82 of Pato O’Ward ground to a halt at the entry to Turn 4. The safety team quickly got him off track and they were able to go back to green for three minutes.

Championship contender Neil Alberico has some work to do. The No. 3 Rising Star Racing backed Cape Motorsports with /WTR machine was stuck mid-field in 9th.

The final time sheet looked like this:
RANK — DRIVER — BEST LAP TIME — TOTAL LAPS TURNED
1 Pato O’Ward 1:23.445 7
2 Raoul Owens 1:23.672 8
3 Santiago Urrutia 1:23.751 6
4 Jose Gutierrez 1:23.758 13
5 Will Owen 1:24.038 14
6 Kyle Connery 1:24.163 7
7 Weiron Tan 1:24.273 12
8 Garett Grist 1:24.324 14
9 Neil Alberico 1:24.598 13
10 Timothe Buret 1:24.887 13
11 Florian Latorre 1:24.915 13
12 Parker Nicklin 1:25.030 13
13 Dalton Kellett 1:25.153 12
14 Michael Johnson 1:25.266 13
15 Victor Franzoni 1:25.434 4
16 Daniel Burkett 1:25.780 11
17 Alessandro Latif 1:26.387 11
18 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:26.677 13
19 Jay Horak(E) 1:29.183 14

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Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire practice session #1

The 13 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire entries took to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Road Course for a half hour practice session at 10:30am.

The session ran cleanly for the first 8 minutes before the No. 21 of newcomer Heaman Choi found the gravel trap at the exit of Turn 9. The Holmatro Safety Team got him going again and the track went back to green with 15 minutes remaining in the session.

Most drivers had only completed five laps at the half-way point and the top five were: Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot, Shelby Blackstock, Sean Rayhall and Felix Serralles.

Jack Harvey sat in his car for the first half of the session and turned … laps, … fewer than the rest of the field. TSO suspects that this was a tire related decision, but we’ll confirm that for our next update.

That was an interesting session with championship contenders coming in 2nd (Jones), Pigot (4th), Enerson (9th) and Harvey (12th).

The final time sheet looked like this:
1 Kyle Kaiser 1:16.046 13
2 Ed Jones 1:16.352 12
3 Sean Rayhall 1:16.407 14
4 Spencer Pigot 1:16.466 14
5 Max Chilton 1:16.490 14
6 Shelby Blackstock 1:16.706 13
7 Scott Anderson 1:16.946 14
8 Felix Serralles 1:17.002 13
9 RC Enerson 1:17.265 11
10 Juan Piedrahita 1:17.529 15
11 Ethan Ringel 1:17.620 15
12 Jack Harvey 1:17.733 8
13 Heamin Choi 1:20.645 3

Mazda Road To Indy – #SoulRedFinal – Indy Lights Preview

By Steve Wittich

For the third straight year, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship will come down wire at a third different race track in California. In 2013, Sage Karam edged Gabby Chaves at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. In 2014, it was Chaves just eeking out the title over Jack Harvey at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. This year, it is Harvey who leads a quartet of drivers with a chance to take home the title at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The early rabbit in 2015 was Carlin Rookie Ed Jones. The 20 year-old from Dubai won the first three races of the year and led the title fight for six of the first seven races. Fellow rookie Spencer Pigot, driving for Juncos Racing took the first of four victories on the year at Barber Motorsports Park and lead the championship for the one event Jones didn’t, but it was experience that took over the top of the championship table at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Sophomore Jack Harvey, piloting the No. 42 Racing Steps Foundation sponsored car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian won the annual “Carb Day” race on the famed 2.5 mile oval and has held the lead in the championship for the next seven events.

Coming into to the two race Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires and Powered by Mazda finale, Harvey holds a slender six point lead over Pigot and an 18 point lead over Jones. Havey’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian rookie teammate RC Enerson is the fourth driver in contention for the $1 million Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship.

The 18 year-old Enerson will need some help to jump the three drivers ahead of him, but he does carry the most momentum into the season ending event. In the last four races (Iowa, Milwaukee and Mid-Ohio *2) Enerson has scored 99 points vs. 64 by Jones, 64 by Pigot and 59 by Harvey.

With track time at a premium on a busy Pirelli World Challenge/Mazda Road To Indy weekend, previous experience at a circuit can certainly come into play, however, this is the first visit to Mazda Raceway for Harvey, Pigot and Jones. Enerson has previous Skip Barber and USF2000 (2 races in 2013) experience on the 2.238-mile, 11 turn natural terrain road course.

Holding even more importance than track experience could be situational experience. Having previously chased a championship “should” prepare a driver for the pressure cooker of racing for the $1 million Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship.

Havey has been on both sides of a championship fight. On the down side, he lost the 2010 Formula BMW championship to Robin Frijns by only 11 points and tied Chaves for the 2014 Indy Lights crown. On the plus side, he won a close fought 2012 British Formula 3 title over Jazeman Jaafar and Felix Serralles.

“I’m very excited about Mazda Raceway; I’ve always wanted to race there,” said Harvey “It will be a great finale for the entire Mazda Road to Indy. But I’ve been in this situation before, where I knew I had to win the last race to win the title. Last year, I had two poles and two wins in the last race weekend of the year so I feel very confident in what I can achieve as a driver and I’ve got massive belief in my team. We were the fastest at Mid-Ohio. I’m excited to get back in the car – I love this time of year. It’s just down to me and my team to get the job done. Winning the championship would definitely help our cause progressing forward into IndyCar.”

Chasing a Mazda Motorsports advancement scholarship is nothing new for Spencer Pigot. The reigning Pro Mazda champion won his first of two advancement scholarships in 2010 by taking home the Skip Barber National title, helping him move into USF2000. In 2011 and 2012, Pigot just missed out winning an advancement scholarship, coming home second in USF2000 during both seasons.

Ed Jones is no stranger to chasing a championship from behind. Jones missed the first two races (interestingly Pigot was in his seat) of the 2013 European F3 Open season, but was able to score 10 podiums in 14 races to overhaul Sandy Stuvik for the title.

Enerson is also no stranger to being in a championship race. The driver who has generally been much younger than his competition, won the 2014 USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest crown as a 16 year-old and just missed out on the full-season title, battling Florian Latorre down to the last race at Sonoma Raceway.

Also watch for which driver will best be able to keep their emotions in check this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The driver that can put that $1 million and a guaranteed Verizon IndyCar Series seat out of their mind, will have the best chance to win the title.

Other things to watch for:

Qualifying: In the past, overtaking at Mazda Raceway has been challenging, so starting up front will be one of the keys to having a successful weekend. In 16 previous Indy Lights races at Mazda Raceway, the furthest back a race winner started was fifth. In fact, 12 of the 16 previous winners have all started on the front row.

Teammates: We saw firsthand during the Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma Raceway how big of an impact your teammates can have on the title fight. On one hand, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball were able to place themselves between Scott Dixon and Juan Montoya and steal valuable points from Montoya. While on the other hand, contact while racing teammate Will Power very likely cost Montoya his second IndyCar championship.

Bonus Points: As Gabby Chaves was chasing Harvey late in the first Indy Lights race during the finale at Sonoma Raceway in 2014, he turned in a last minute flyer that earned him quickest lap of the race and a single bonus point. Chaves and Harvey ended up tied for the championship and Chaves won after a count-back of second place finishes. Bonus points are earned by claiming pole, leading the most laps and turning the quickest race lap, and six points are on offer this weekend. Among the top four so far this year it is Jones who leads the way with 11 bonus points, and is trailed by Pigot (9 points), Harvey (6 points) and Enerson (2 points).

Count-backs: Chaves and Harvey were deadlocked on points last year, meaning the tie-breaker moved wins. Both drivers accumulated four wins, so the next count-back was second place finishes, and because Chaves had stood on the middle step of the podium four times versus one time for Harvey, he was crowned champion. In 2015 the total number of wins is:
Pigot —> 4
Jones —> 3
Harvey —> 2
Enerson —> 1

In 2015 the total number of second place finishes is:
Harvey —> 6
Enerson —> 2
Jones —> 1
Pigot —> 1

Contact: Incidents between Harvey and Spencer Pigot in race #1 and Harvey and Jones in race #2 ruined each drivers race, proving that keeping your nose clean is an important part of winning a championship. Among the championship contenders it’s Jones who has completed the highest percentage of laps. Jones has completed 99.2% of the laps in 2015, top in the series, and is trailed by: Harvey (94.8%), Spencer Pigot (94.5%) and Enerson (89.5%).

Spoilers

You don’t have to look too far to find a pair of drivers that have the potential to play championship spoiler.

The two Indy Lights races at Mazda Raceway this weekend will be the seventh and eighth natural terrain road course races of the season.  Barber Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course have all held doubleheaders, and below are the points that the drivers have scored in those races.

1. Max Chilton —> 131
2. RC Enerson —> 129
3. Sean Rayhall —> 128
4. Jack Harvey —> 123
5. Spencer Pigot —> 122
6. Ed Jones —> 97
7. Shelby Blackstock —> 86
8. Felix Serralles —> 84
9. Scott Anderson —> 82
10. Kyle Kaiser —> 75
11. Juan Piedrahita —> 75
12. Ethan Ringel —> 68

Chilton, the European trained Formula 1 veteran, has spent the majority of his career racing on natural terrain road course, so his four podiums should come as no surprise. Surprisingly, the 24 year-old has previous experience at Mazda Raceway.  As a 16 year-old in 2007, Chilton journeyed to the Monterey area to take part in the American Le Mans Series Race, but was told that he was too young.   The Redgate, England native promptly jumped in a Pro (Star) Mazda and qualified fourth, before running into trouble in the race and finishing 15th.

With two wins and three podiums on natural terrain courses in 2015, and no teammate in championship contention, expect 8Star Motorsports rookie Rayhall to go for broke this weekend.  The 20 year-old from Georgia will also be able to call on previous experience at Mazda Raceway where he finished second in the Prototype Challenge class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014.

Weekend Schedule for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire

Friday, September 11

10:15am-10:45am — Indy Lights practice #1
3:45pm-4:15pm – Indy Lights practice #2

Saturday, September 12

8:45am-9:15am — Indy Lights qualifying
3:45pm-4:30pm — Indy Lights Race #1

Sunday, September 13

12:30pm-1pm — Indy Lights autograph session
2:40pm-3:40pm — Indy Lights Race #2

Don’t forget that RoadToIndy.TV is live streaming all of the race action on Saturday and Sunday. Catch it here:

… or you can watch on the RoadToIndy.TV app – available via Android  or Apple iOS.

Links to other coverage so far this weekend:

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