BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Pato O’Ward put together a superb drive in wet conditions today to capture his second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires victory in as many days and sweep the weekend doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park.
Starting on pole, the 18-year-old driving the No. 27 Riverina CDMX Mexico City Mazda/Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport, got a clean getaway at the start despite conditions, checking out from front-row mate Victor Franzoni (No. 23 Juncos Racing) and the rest of the field.
O’Ward ran untouched and nearly out of sight throughout the 30 laps, winning by 5.8325 seconds over Franzoni. O’Ward’s teammate Colton Herta (No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) snagged the final spot on the podium, finishing 35.3325 seconds back.
Aaron Telitz (No. 9 Belardi Auto Racing) shook off a run of bad luck that saw him retire on the opening lap of each of the first three races this season to place fourth.
“It was really fun out there,” O’Ward said. “The track, I felt like there was a lot of grip. It was fun to hustle the car around and kind of feel it play around on you.
“You could really feel the grip of the tire, especially with these undulations and stuff. When the car compresses, it helps for the car to basically just get on the suspension and work.”
O’Ward has won three of the first four Indy Lights races of the season. He holds a 16-point lead over Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) in the standings. Indy Lights returns to action May 10-12 for another doubleheader as part of the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Scott claims first Pro Mazda triumph
Harrison Scott captured his maiden victory in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, in an action-packed Race 2 today at Barber Motorsports Park.
The 25-lap race began under caution due to the tricky wet/dry track conditions around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course, with the 14-car field starting on the traditional slick, dry-condition Cooper tires. Pole sitter Parker Thompson (No. 90 Exclusive Autosport Mazda/Tatuus PM-18) led the field to green on Lap 2.
After starting fourth, Scott (No. 10 RP Motorsports Racing) made quick work of Carlos Cunha (No. 1 Juncos Racing) and David Malukas (No. 79 BN Racing) to jump to second place. Scott ultimately passed Thompson in Turn 5 to grab the lead on Lap 3.
The 22-year-old Brit held the lead until Andres Gutierrez (No. 81 Team Pelfrey) powered past him on Lap 10. The rain began to intensify around Lap 17, bringing the top three within 1.1 seconds of each other.
The deteriorating conditions caught Gutierrez, who went off track in Turn 7 on Lap 21, returning Scott to the lead. Moments later, race officials ordered a full-course caution due to the treacherous conditions, and the race finished that way after 25 laps.
“This is an unreal feeling,” said Scott said, who drives with sponsorship from epicura and Masterpack Innovative Printing. “First win on the Mazda Road to Indy series, first win on the Cooper tires, first win with a Mazda engine, first for RP. There’s a whole lot of firsts, and for it too come so early is a huge, huge credit to the whole team at RP Motorsport.”
Scott added that the feat was even more impressive considering just how new the team is.
“We received the cars in March. We’ve had just four test days,” Scott said. “To already be coming into victory lane in only the second (weekend) is a big credit to them, because they’re working so hard. Every time we’re on track, we’re getting better and we’re still so far behind on development. We’ve still got a lot to improve.
“I think we’re only going to keep getting better and better as the season goes on, which is fantastic.”
Thompson finished the race in second and holds a four-point lead in the championship, 102-98, over Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) through the first four races. Pro Mazda returns to action May 10-12 with a doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.