TORONTO — Belardi Auto Racing is back in the winner’s circle for the first time since the season-opening weekend. Santi Urrutia took a dominant flag-to-flag victory in Sunday’s second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race of the weekend at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.
Pole sitter Urrutia led all 35 laps and finished 1.2708 seconds ahead of Patricio O’Ward (Andretti Autosport) to pick up his first victory since the second race of the St. Petersburg weekend in March. Aaron Telitz (Belardi Auto Racing) finished third.
Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing), who sustained a non-displaced fracture in his left thumb when he crashed in Race 1 qualifying Saturday morning, crashed again in the first race and then again in Race 2 qualifying on Sunday morning to aggravate the injury. He started the race from pit lane and completed just four laps before retiring from the race on the advice of his team.
“Obviously, the thumb’s not doing too well, so we’ll see what we can do,” Herta said. “Two weeks until Mid-Ohio, so some time to heal up. Doing anything on a broken thumb isn’t fun, especially driving around here with all the bumps.”
Bryan Herta, Colton’s father and current Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner, had input in the decision for his son to not run the entire race and risk further injury.
“He’s mad at me, but I had to be the parent today and step in and do the right thing,” Bryan Herta said. “He’ll be back.”
With the sixth-place finish, Herta fell 18 points behind teammate O’Ward for the championship after 12 of 17 races. Urrutia is in third place, 40 points behind O’Ward.
“I’ve got to win races,” said Urrutia. “I’ve got to win the next few races, at least both races at Mid-Ohio. I’m strong there. We won last year at Mid-Ohio so I hope we can win there.”
VeeKay sweeps Pro Mazda doubleheader
Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay capped off a championship-caliber weekend in Toronto by winning the second Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race of the weekend, closing within one point of the championship lead following his second win in as many days.
Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) charged from sixth starting position to finish second, 0.5479 of a second behind VeeKay. Robert Megennis, VeeKay’s teammate, placed third as the race saw high attrition for the second straight day. Eight of the 14 starts finished the 32-lap event.
“I think we did around 20 laps running in one piece (without a full-course caution) so there was something different than yesterday," said VeeKay. “I had a very big gap to second and then there was a safety car and Oliver came close and he was really quick.”
With the double-win weekend, closed within one point of championship leader Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport), who finished eighth.
Askew's podium was his second of the season and third runner-up finish on a street circuit for the 2017 USF2000 champion.
“We finished second here before and we were really close to that win,” said Askew. “I’ve won one street race in my career at St. Petersburg last year, but we’ve always been super close and really competitive. The biggest thing is, I’m happy to stay out of trouble this weekend.”
Kirkwood triumphs again in USF2000
After a hectic start, Kyle Kirkwood (Cape Motorsports) secured his seventh Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda victory of the season, sixth in a row and second in as many days at Toronto.
Kaylen Frederick (Pabst Racing) started on pole, but a lock-up on the opening lap set off a chain reaction multi-car incident involving nearly a third of the field – though only three cars retired with damage from the incident. Kirkwood snuck through the melee on the inside and went to first place after starting fifth.
Exclusive Autosport’s Igor Fraga took the lead on the restart, but Kirkwood kept up the pressure and took the lead back on Lap 17. From there, he ran unchallenged to the checkered flag by 1.1127 seconds ahead of Fraga. Rasmus Lindh (Pabst Racing) finished third.
Kirkwood’s win gives him a nearly four-race advantage in the standings with five races left. By finishing ahead of Frederick in the first race at Mid-Ohio, Kirkwood can wrap up the championship.
“We’ve been racing the same,” Kirkwood said. “I’ve said this before, we’re just here to win races and the championship will come with winning races, so we’re just keeping that same mentality.”
Fraga was happy to lead his first laps in USF2000 competition.
“I knew that he was much faster than me, so I felt like I just had until Turn 3 to make the move,” said Fraga. “I was just trying to do my best and fortunately I made it and I was able to hold the position for a long time.”
The entire Mazda Road to Indy will next compete at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the July 27-29 weekend. Indy Lights and Pro Mazda will have two races while USF2000 has a tripleheader.