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Cooper Tires Winterfest update #9 – USF2000 race notes and results

For the second straight year Victor Franzoni has won a Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race during Cooper Tires Winterfest.  The 19 year old, who also won a race during the 2014 USF2000 season, made up six spots in the first three laps to show the rest of the field he will be a title contender.

Starting spots for the second USF2000 race were determined by the quickest between a driver’s second quickest qualifying lap or their quickest race #1 lap.  Based on that the top 10 starting spots were held down by: Nico Jamin, Jake Eidson, Aaron Telitz, Jordan Lloyd, Anthony Martin, Luke Gabin, Victor Franzoni, Parker Thompson, Nikita Lastochkin, and Yufeng Luo.

For the second straight race everybody got through Turn 1, lap cleanly, with Afterburner Autosport sophomore Franzoni making a big early move.  The Brazilian had moved up to third by the end of the first lap, second by the end of the second lap, and made a daring pass of leader Jamin on the third lap.

Garth Rickards was also able to make up a number of spots early on.  The Team Pelfrey driver encountered a diffuser issue early in the first race, but was able to make up 5 spots in the first two laps.

The middle portion of the race saw Franzoni slowly build up a comfortable gap between himself and second place, while the rest of the field settled into a consistent race pace.

Further back in the field, Santiago Lozano, Michai Stephens, Ayla Agren, and Augie Lerch waged an entertaining back and forth battle.

The last three laps of the race saw Franzoni continue to hold a 3+ second gap over Jamin, who kept a consistent 1.5 second gap back to yesterday’s Race #1 winner, Eidson.

Australian Formula Ford veteran driver Jordan Lloyd was the top rookie in the field.  An impressive showing for the John Cummiskey Racing driver who is contesting his first races in a “wings and slicks” car.

Lloyd’s teammate Martin, had been holding down fifth place until his engine went sour and he had to limp the car home to a 13th place finish.

Complete results are below:

Car No. Driver Laps Completed Quickest Lap
17 Victor Franzoni 19 1:36.888
2 Nico Jamin 19 1:37.005
22 Jake Eidson 19 1:37.031
3 Aaron Telitz 19 1:37.317
94 Jordan Lloyd 19 1:37.305
82 Luke Gabin 19 1:38.154
5 Keyvan Andre Soori 19 1:37.929
80 Parker Thompson 19 1:38.175
83 Garth Rickards 19 1:38.073
23 Yufeng Luo 19 1:38.264
84 Nikita Lastochkin 19 1:38.261
6 Max Hanratty 19 1:38.656
33 Anthony Martin 19 1:37.566
81 Ayla Agren 19 1:39.225
12 Augie Lerch 19 1:39.278
79 Santiago Lozano 19 1:39.423
16 James Dayson 19 1:39.741
14 Michai Stephens 18 1:38.691

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #8 – Pro Mazda Race notes and results

Jack Aitken made a late trip to the USA in 2014 to contest the final two races of the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire season at Sonoma Raceway.  He showed his speed in those two outings, earning 9th and 4th place finishes while driving for Team Pelfrey.  Aitken is signed to driver a full season of Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup this season, but came over to America again to knock the rust off before starting his European campaign.

Seven rows of two came to the green flag for the first of six Cooper Tires Winterfest races.  Everybody made it through Turn 1, but Jose Gutierrez did encounter a problem and was forced to pit for repairs and rejoined in near the tail end of the lead lap.  Jack Aitken, Weiron Tan and Will Owen were the top three at the end of the first lap.

JDC Motorsports driver Raoul Owens was the biggest winner on the first lap, moving up to fourth from his eighth place starting spot.

2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda champion Florian Latorre was also a loser on the first lap, falling to near the back of the field, but he was able to claw his way back to seventh (one spot shy of his starting position).

By the fifth lap Aitken had built up a 1.7 second lead over Tan, but foreshadowing what was to come, Tan had run the fastest lap of the race.

Tan continued to bust out quick lap after quick lap and by the tenth lap the Andretti Autosport driver had narrowed the gap to only 0.4 seconds to leader Aitken, and held a 6 second advantage over third place runner Owen.

Tan continued to dog Aitken over the next nine laps, and at one point narrowed the lead to a paltry 0.2 seconds, but in the end the English interloper was able to take the checkered flag first.

Full results below:

Rank Car No. Driver Laps Completed Quickest Lap Time
1 82 Jack Aitken 19 1:34.307
2 22 Weiron Tan 19 1:34.167
3 23 Will Owen 19 1:34.600
4 19 Raoul Owens 19 1:34.279
5 5 Garett Grist 19 1:35.683
6 28 Dalton Kellett 19 1:37.316
7 10 Florian Latorre 19 1:35.161
8 2 Daniel Burkett 19 1:34.893
9 6 Timothe Buret 19 1:35.234
10 54 Michael Johnson 19 1:35.140
11 14 Alessandro Latif 19 1:36.118
12 13 Bobby Eberle 19 1:38.171
13 33 Carlos Conde 18 1:39.265
14 18 Nicolas Latifi 18 1:34.239
15 7 Jose Gutierrez 17 1:34.585

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #7 – USF2000 Race #1

The 18 drivers that started the first Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda of Cooper Tires Winterfest race all made it through the first lap cleanly.  The top 3 at the end of the first lap were: Jake Eidson, Aaron Telitz, and Nico Jamin.

The big mover early on was Victor Franzoni who gained seven spots on the opening lap from his starting position of 14th.  By the 2nd lap he had moved up to 5th and passed Jordan Lloyd for 4th on lap 4.

Team Pelfrey’s Garth Rickards pulled in on the 6th lap with mechanical gremlins.

Eidson started to pull out a gap, lap by lap, that had swelled to 2.6 seconds over Telitz by the tenth lap.  Telitz, meanwhile, had his hands full fending off his teammate Jamin.  Further back in the field Lloyd got back by Franzoni.

By the fifteenth lap, Eidsen held a commanding 3.2 second lead over Telitz, who was still fighting for his life (and second place) with Jamin.  It was another ten seconds back to rookie Jordan Lloyd, who had his John Cummiskey Racing teammate,, Anthony Martin, who had just passed Franzoni, on his tail.

The top rookie was Jordan Lloyd from John Cummiskey Racing who edged out his teammate and Australian countryman Anthony Martin for 4th place. A very impressive showing from a pair of rookie drivers with a new team.

The 19 lap race ran clean the entire time as Eidsen led every lap on the way to his third career USF2000 win.  The win was the second in the last two years for Pabst Racing. (Will Owen won at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year).

Full results are below:

Rank Car No. Driver Laps Completed Quickest Lap Time
1 22 Jake Eidson 19 1:37.249
2 3 Aaron Telitz 19 1:37.119
3 2 Nico Jamin 19 1:37.158
4 94 Jordan Lloyd 19 1:37.788
5 33 Anthony Martin 19 1:39.138
6 17 Victor Franzoni 19 1:38.921
7 80 Parker Thompson 19 1:38.206
8 84 Nikita Lastochkin 19 1:37.840
9 5 Keyvan Andre Soori 19 1:39.312
10 82 Luke Gabin 19 1:40.229
11 23 Yufeng Luo 19 1:39.545
12 6 Max Hanratty 19 1:39.128
13 81 Ayla Agren 19 1:39.659
14 12 Augie Lerch 19 1:40.512
15 16 James Dayson 19 1:41.481
16 79 Santiago Lozano 19 1:40.432
17 14 Michai Stephens 18 1:52.348
18 83 Garth Rickards 6 1:38.854

I willl have reaction from the drivers a little bit later, my current encampment is a bit of a haul from the paddock.

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #6 – USF2000 & Pro Mazda Qualifying

A string of Mazda powered took to the 2.67-mile 13-turn road course at NOLA Motorsports Park in search of the first pole of the 2015 edition of Cooper Tires Winterfest.   Series sophomore, Jake Eidson took top honors with a lap of 96.306 seconds.  The remainder of the top five was a mix of veterans and rookies with sophomores Nico Jamin and Aaron Telitz taking the next two spots on the grid, and freshman Jordan Lloyd and Nikita Lastochkin rounding out the top five.

Here is your starting grid for the first race:

Rank Car No. Name Fastest Lap
1 22 Jake Eidson 1:36.306
2 2 Nico Jamin 1:36.450
3 3 Aaron Telitz 1:36.763
4 94 Jordan Lloyd 1:37.121
5 84 Nikita Lastochkin 1:37.368
6 82 Luke Gabin 1:37.388
7 80 Parker Thompson 1:37.408
8 33 Anthony Martin 1:37.478
9 23 Yufeng Luo 1:37.717
10 83 Garth Rickards 1:37.786
11 5 Keyvan Andre Soori 1:37.943
12 81 Ayla Agren 1:38.632
13 6 Max Hanratty 1:39.013
14 17 Victor Franzoni 1:39.089
15 16 James Dayson 1:39.854
16 12 Augie Lerch 1:40.176
17 79 Santiago Lozano 1:40.349
18 18 Bruna Tomaselli No Time
19 14 Michai Stephens No Time

 

Fourteen Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire cars took to the track for qualifying and it was guest driver Jack Aitken, who used a last lap flier to take the pole position over Andretti Autosport’s Weiron Tan.   It was Juncos Racing who make up the rest of the top five with drivers Jose Gutierrez, Will Owen and Garett Grist.

Here is your starting grid for the race:

Rank Car No. Driver Fastest Lap
1 82 Jack Aitken 1:33.201
2 22 Weiron Tan 1:33.338
3 7 Jose Gutierrez 1:33.679
4 23 Will Owen 1:33.890
5 5 Garett Grist 1:33.895
6 10 Florian Latorre 1:34.235
7 28 Dalton Kellett 1:34.450
8 19 Raoul Owens 1:34.565
9 6 Timothe Buret 1:34.607
10 2 Daniel Burkett 1:34.737
11 14 Alessandro Latif 1:35.581
12 18 Nicolas Latifi 1:35.760
13 54 Michael Johnson 1:36.464
14 13 Bobby Eberle 1:37.616
15 33 Carlos Conde 1:39.178

The speed difference between USF2000 and Pro Mazda is especially noticeable watching in the last corner, as the Pro Mazda drivers were able to get on the throttle much sooner than their USF2000 brethren.

Both sessions went green for the entire half hour.  The first USF2000 race is up next at 3:30pm.  That will be followed by a Pro Mazda race at 4:30pm (all times are Central).

It’s interesting to see who is here in driver coaching roles.  Stefan Wilson is working with all of the Team Pelfrey drivers, Peter Dempsey is here working with all of the Juncos Racing drivers and Jack Hawksworth is on site working with Weiron Tan and Alessandro Latif (both of whom he shares management with).

Cooper Tires Winterfest Update #5 – USF2000 and Pro Mazda Practice

The Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series only get one 30 minute practice session each before qualifying this afternoon.

The USF2000 session was led by four sophomore drivers.  Rookie Yufeng Luo joined veterans Nico Jamin, Jake Eidson, Aaron Telitz and Victor Franzoni in the top 5.  Most drivers were able to complete just north of a dozen laps.

The only red flag in the session came when rookie Michai Stephens hit the inside barrier at the exit of the final turn.  The left rear corner of the car was badly bent up and the Afterburner Autosport crew will need have their work cut out for them to have the car ready for qualifying.

Here are the complete times for the session:

Rank Car No. Name FTime
1 2 Nico Jamin 1:36.597
2 22 Jake Eidson 1:36.788
3 3 Aaron Telitz 1:36.897
4 17 Victor Franzoni 1:37.194
5 23 Yufeng Luo 1:37.625
6 82 Luke Gabin 1:37.983
7 94 Jordan Lloyd 1:38.119
8 5 Keyvan Andre Soori 1:38.207
9 80 Parker Thompson 1:38.217
10 84 Nikita Lastochkin 1:38.306
11 83 Garth Rickards 1:38.392
12 33 Anthony Martin 1:38.769
13 6 Max Hanratty 1:39.549
14 16 James Dayson 1:40.578
15 81 Ayla Agren 1:40.629
16 79 Santiago Lozano 1:40.711
17 12 Augie Lerch 1:42.536
18 14 Michai Stephens 2:01.883
19 18 Bruna Tomaselli No Time

Weiron Tan led the 14 Pro Mazda drivers with a top time of 93.3 seconds.  The Andretti Autosport rookie recently tested at NOLA Motorsports Park, so he is familiar with the circuit.  Jack Aitken, who is making a guest appearance for Cooper Tires Winterfest (he will contest a full season of Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup) was the second quickest driver.  Dalton Kellett, Will Owen and Raoul Owens rounded out the rest of the top 5. Four different teams were represented in the top 5.

The lone red flag of the Pro Mazda session was brought out by M1 Autosport rookie Alessandro Latif who came to a stop at the entry of the final corner after an off-track excursion damaged the left rear suspension on his No. 14 machine.

Here are the complete times for the session:

Rank Car No. Driver Top Lap Time
1 22 Weiron Tan 1:33.307
2 82 Jack Aitken 1:33.905
3 28 Dalton Kellett 1:34.264
4 23 Will Owen 1:34.873
5 19 Raoul Owens 1:35.195
6 5 Garett Grist 1:35.315
7 7 Jose Gutierrez 1:35.335
8 6 Timothe Buret 1:35.872
9 2 Daniel Burkett 1:36.346
10 18 Nicolas Latifi 1:36.553
11 10 Florian Latorre 1:36.716
12 54 Michael Johnson 1:37.051
13 13 Bobby Eberle 1:38.451
14 14 Alessandro Latif 1:48.493
15 33 Carlos Conde 2:15.501

Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back after qualifying.

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #4 – Indy Lights final

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire testing on the 13-turn 2.67 mile road course at NOLA Motorsports Park got off to late start after another cold start to the day.  The 8 a.m. start was pushed back to 9 a.m. and it took another half an hour before most of the field took the circuit.

10 of the 11 cars present took to the track.  The lone car to not turn laps was the No. 12 of Spencer Pigot.  Pigot dropped a wheel at Turn 1 late in yesterdays session and ran through the grassy area just off track.  They are sure whether it was caused by an access road or a rock, but the skid plate was pushed up into the tub cracking it.  The tub will need to be replaced, so don’t expect Pigot to be on track at Barber Motorsports Park next week.

Drivers were able to test out the additional 50 horsepower push-to-pash (PTP) system during the morning session.  For every 11 laps that a driver completed they were able to use one push to gain the additional 50 horsepower.

Before the session I was told that the hardest adaption for Max from transitioning from Formula 1 to Indy Lights is the delay in the gearbox when making an upshift or downshift.  Apparently he got used to it, as he blitzed the field by almost a half of a second.  His best lap time was 84.1204 on his 32nd of 43 laps.  Too further demoralize the field his best lap was done without PTP and he was able to match that time on used tires as well.  Here are the results from this morning:

Rank Car No. Driver Team Top Lap Time
1 14 Max Chilton (R) Carlin Motorsport 01:24.1204
2 18 Kyle Kaiser (R) Juncos Racing 01:24.6047
3 4 Felix Serralles (R) Belardi Auto Racing 01:24.6562
4 11 Ed Jones (R) Carlin Motorsport 01:24.9044
5 42 Jack Harvey Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 01:25.2429
6 7 RC Enerson (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 01:25.3776
7 51 Shelby Blackstock (R) Andretti Autosport 01:25.6632
8 77 Scott Anderson Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 01:25.9905
9 5 Juan Piedrahita Belardi Auto Racing 01:26.1129
10 71 Ethan Ringel (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 01:26.5131

I spent some time watching Carlin work this morning and they should force everybody, in what is already a very professional paddock, to up their game even more.  Team principal Trevor Carlin was present and was just as busy doing “menial” crew tasks as his other team members were.  Can you tell that I’m impressed?

USF2000 is currently on track for their first practice session, and Pro Mazda takes to the track after that.  We’ll be back after that.

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #3 – Feb. 19th – Schedule and Pro Mazda/USF2000 entry lists

Schedule For Thursday, February 19th (all times are central)

Series Time
Indy Lights testing 9am-11am
USF2000 practice 11:15am – 11:45am
Pro Mazda practice 12pm – 12:30pm
USF2000 qualifying 1:30pm – 2:00pm
Pro Mazda qualifying 2:30pm – 3:00pm
USF2000 Race #1 3:30pm – 4pm
Pro Mazda Race #1 4:30pm – 5:00pm

Entry List for Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire

Car No. Driver Hometown Team
2 Daniel Burkett Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Cape Motorsports with /WTR
5 Garett Grist Grimsby, Ontario, Canada Juncos Racing
6 Timothe Buret Montpellier, France Juncos Racing
7 Jose Gutierrez Monterrey, Mexico Juncos Racing
10 Florian Latorre Libourne, France Cape Motorsports with /WTR
13 Bobby Eberle* Houston, Texas World Speed Motorsports
14 Alessandro Latif London, England M1 Autosport
18 Nicolas Latifi Montreal, Quebec, Canada M1`Autosport
19 Raoul Owens Pembrey, Kent, England JDC Motorsports
22 Weiron Tan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Andretti Autosport
23 Will Owen Plano, Texas Juncos Racing
28 Dalton Kellett Toronto, Ontario, Canada Andretti Autosport
33 Carlos Conde* Scarsdale, New York M1 Autosport
54 Michael Johnson Flint, Michigan JDC Motorsports
82 Jack Aitkin London, England Team Pelfrey

* Expert class driver

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda entry list

Car No. Driver Hometown Team
2 Nico Jamin Rouen, France Cape Motorsports with /WTR
3 Aaron Telitz Rice Lake, Wisconsin Cape Motorsports with /WTR
5 Keyran Andres Soori Cologne, Germany ArmsUp Motorsports
6 Max Hanratty Hartland, Wisconsin ArmsUp Motorsports
12 Augie Lerch Tucson, Arizona JAY Motorsports
14 Michai Stephens Evanston, Illinois Afterburner Autosport
16 James Dayson Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports
17 Victor Franzoni Sao Paulo, Brazil Afterburner Autosport
18 Bruna Tomaselli Santa Catarina, Brazil Afterburner Autosport
22 Jake Eidson Memphis, Tennessee Pabst Racing
23 Yufeng Luo Beijing, China Pabst Racing
33 Anthony Martin Kalgoorlie, Australia John Cummiskey Racing
79 Santiago Lozano Bogota, Colombia M2 Autosport
80 Parker Thompson Red Deer, Alberta, Canada JDC Motorsports
81 Ayla Agren Oslo, Norway Team Pelfrey
82 Luke Gabin Perth, Australia Team Pelfrey
83 Garth Rickards Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania Team Pelfrey
84 Nikita Lastochkin Moscow, Russia Team Pelfrey
94 Jordan Lloyd Toowoomba, Australia John Cummiskey Racing

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #2 – Feb. 18th

Going back to the morning session before getting started on this afternoon. Enersen’s red flag was caused by a gearbox issue. The team corrected the issue and he was able to get back out for the afternoon session. Harvey’s red flag was caused when the engine shut off after riding the rev limiter.

Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Serralles put down the quickest lap of the day in the last 15 minutes of an afternoon session that was extended because of a late start due to cold weather this morning. His top lap of 85.069 seconds came during his 60th of 62 laps.

The top 7 drivers were all within one second of Serralles.

Here are the results for this afternoon’s session. It was a very disjointed session with seven red flags interrupting any rhythm the drivers found.

Rank Car No. Driver Fastest Lap
1 4 Felix Serralles 1:25.069
2 14 Max Chilton 1:25.311
3 42 Jack Harvey 1:25.461
4 12 Spencer Pigot 1:25.476
5 51 Shelby Blackstock 1:25.578
6 18 Kyle Kaiser 1:25.850
7 7 RC Enerson 1:25.976
8 77 Scott Anderson 1:26.274
9 11 Ed Jones 1:26.400
10 71 Ethan Ringel 1:27.828
11 5 Juan Piedrahita 1:29.214

Red #1 was for Juan Piedrahita who had an off and got stuck in the mud. He damaged the front wing and was not able to get back out on track before the day ended.

Red #2 was for Shelby Blackstock, who needed a tow-in from the south end of the track.

Red #3 was for Ethan Ringel, who also needed a tow-in from the south end of the track.

Red #4 was for Ed Jones, who had an issue on the south end of the track and needed to be towed back in.

Red #5 was for Shelby Blackstock, who spun in the final corner and stalled while trying to get going again.

Red #6 was for Ed Jones who needed a tow-in after encountering a problem at the north end of the track.

Red #7 was for Max Chilton, who got towed-in after experiencing a problem at the south end of the race track.

Most of the red flags were for niggly (Tony Cotman’s word) mechanical issues, which isn’t a big surprise for a brand new car. That’s why they go testing.

RC Enerson was able to use one set of tires for just over 100 miles without much of a drop in lap times. 100 miles is the race distance of most Indy Lights races.

A trip off course at NOLA Motorsports Park will likely mean a trip to the Dallara trailer for some new parts. The combination of a the type of grass and naturally wet surroundings equates to cars “digging in” when going off course.

Talked to a driver who said that you have to be careful not to drop the wheels off the kerbs at corner exit. They are fairly extreme, provide a big jolt if you get them wrong and it’s a good way to damage your car.

Learned from an Andersen Promotions official that Moore Racing is getting closer to getting on track, and there is possibility that we will see them next week at the Barber Motorsports Park test.

Geoff Fickling, who engineered Gabby Chaves to the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire title will be Ed Jones engineer at Carlin. Fickling worked with Sage Karam and Jack Hawksworth at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2013. Max Chilton is being engineered by Matt Greasley. Greasely is currently engineering the Mahindra Racing (Carlin) FIA Formula E entry and was also an engineer in the teams F3 program last year. He also has open wheel experience in GP2 and World Series by Renault. American sports car fans might recognize his name as he was an engineer with Level 5 in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for portions of 2013 and 2014.

The car that Max Chilton drove at Homestead-Miami Speedway was the series prototype, as Carlin was waiting for their second car to be built. The car he is driving for this test was just completed, and turned it’s first miles this morning.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports pilot Ethan Ringel will be engineered by Eric Zeto. The University of Waterloo grad, started his career at Reynard before becoming technical director at Forsythe Championship Racing. He has also had stints at Conquest Racing and Dragon Racing.

Something that I didn’t think about until today, is the logistics behind supplying tires to three different series. Cooper Tire brought five transport trailers to NOLA Motorsports Park for three days of Cooper Tires Winterfest. Four of those are full of tires and the fifth one carries all the equipment to make all of the tire changes.

There is a brand new Mazda Road To Indy Pace Car for 2015. A spiffy new deep red/maroon Mazda3 with Motegi wheels and Cooper Tires.

The brand new Mazda3 that will pace all Mazda Road To Indy  races this season.

The brand new Mazda3 that will pace all Mazda Road To Indy races this season.

The rides of last years Mazda Road To Indy scholarship winners, Spencer Pigot and Florian Latorre are both the same deep red/maroon color as the Mazda SkyActiv prototypes the run in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. A great branding exercise.

 

Cooper Tires Winterfest update #1 – Feb. 18th

The helmets of Carlin duo Ed Jones and Max Chilton

The helmets of Carlin duo Ed Jones and Max Chilton

Good morning/afternoon from NOLA Motorsports Park (NOLA) in Avondale, Louisiana.  I (Steve) will be keeping you updated from the Cooper Tires Winterfest at the 2.67-mile 13-turn road course.  The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series has an open test today (Wednesday) and tomorrow  (Thursday) morning before the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire and Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series take over for practice, qualifying and three races each on Thursday afternoon and Friday.

Indy Lights are scheduled to be on track from 9am-noon and 1pm-5pm, however due to a cool start to the day (it was 29F when I got up this morning) they didn’t get out on track until 10am.  Cooper Tire works from the same premise that Firestone does in the Verizon IndyCar Series, either the track or air temperature must be 50F.

Eleven cars entered for the NOLA portion of Winterfest, they are:

No. Driver Team
4 Felix Serralles Belardi Auto Racing
5 Juan Piedrahita Belardi Auto Racing
7 RC Enerson Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
11 Ed Jones Carlin
12 Spencer Pigot Juncos Racing
14 Max Chilton Carlin
18 Kyle Kaiser Juncos Racing
42 Jack Harvey Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
51 Shelby Blackstock Andretti Autosport
71 Ethan Ringel Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
77 Scott Anderson Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

So it’s the same group that tested at Homestead Miami Speedway minus Scott Hargrove and 8Star Motorsports who are skipping this test.  The pair will however be present when testing moves north to Barber Motorsports Park next week.

The track is brand new for Felix Serralles, Ed Jones, Max Chilton and Ethan Ringel, while the other drivers were here for the 2014 edition of Cooper Tires Winterfest.

Most drivers have used tires in various states of wear that were left-over from their last test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Each team does get two new sets of Cooper Tires, but don’t expect to see those used until later in the day.

Morning session times:

Rank Car No. Driver Fastest Lap
1 12 Spencer Pigot 1:27.430
2 11 Ed Jones 1:27.795
3 51 Shelby Blackstock 1:28.702
4 18 Kyle Kaiser 1:28.760
5 42 Jack Harvey 1:28.791
6 14 Max Chilton 1:29.610
7 5 Juan Piedrahita 1:29.958
8 7 RC Enerson 1:30.787
9 77 Scott Anderson 1:30.960
10 71 Ethan Ringel 1:32.826
11 4 Felix Serralles 1:43.408

There were three red flags during the morning session.  The No. 7 of RC Enerson and the No. 42 of Jack Harvey both required tow-ins and I need to find out what the third was for.  I’ll find out what the problems were for Harvey and Enerson were and what the cause of the third red was during the lunch break.

For comparison, at the recent Verizon IndyCar Series test the quickest time was 1:17.9, set by Will Power.

I’ll have a lot more Pro Mazda coverage on Thursday and Friday, but did want to pass along that Neil Alberico will return to Cape Motorsports with /WTR for a sophomore season of Pro Mazda.  The 22 year old from Los Gatos, California rode four podiums to a third place championship finish in 2014.  He immediately becomes one of your favorites for the championship.

Now for some non-racing info.

I drove down to New Orleans from Indianapolis yesterday.  It was pretty close to 14 hours with two stops for gas and one 20 minute stop for food.  Because of the snow in Kentucky and Tennessee, I decided to take I57 & I55 through Memphis, TN and Jackson, MS.  I did run into some fairly slick roads for a 60 mile stretch in Missouri and also got slowed down by an accident in Jackson, MS.  A long drive, but not terribly taxing.  Taking the shorter route and not encountering any problems and the drive would be closer to 12 hours.

I’m staying about 30 miles west of NOLA, in Raceland.  I haven’t had to chance to sample any of the renowned local food fare yet, but I still have a couple of day.

I haven’t gotten a chance to explore too much yet, but on first impression,NOLA Motorsports Park is that it is a very modern facility.  It’s obvious that they are still working on some of the infrastructure, but from what I’ve seen it should have no problem hosting an Verizon IndyCar Series race.  More on the area and facility later.

Thanks so much for reading.

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      Everybody was excited, but I take a lot of personal interest in IndyCar. I always have. I kind of grew up in IndyCar, so I was glad that we were able to get them back. The fans themselves, for only having a little bit less than 90 days to sell the race last year, we […]
    • Rick Mears – still the ultimate pro at 65
      Over the past 20-something years writing about racing, I’ve encountered three people from whom I learn something about the art of racecar driving every time we speak for longer than five minutes. One of that trio is Rick Ravon Mears, born this day 65 years ago in Wichita, Kansas, and brought up in Bakersfield, Calif. […]
    • Memoir helps widow cope after IndyCar driver's death
      Tonya Bergeson-Dana talks with her son, Conor, about his father when he brings it up, which is often. If he’s asking the questions, she reasons, he’s ready to hear the answers. Paul Conor Dana, at age 9, knows that his father was Paul Dana, a journalist and IndyCar driver who died in March 2006 during […]