Mazda Road to Indy testing notes from Monday at Road America

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Dalton Kellett

The Mazda Road to Indy ladder series is back in action following a short break post-May.  Each level of the minor league open-wheel program will be on track at Road America Monday and Tuesday before returning to the track June 22-24 for two races apiece.

Action has kicked off already with Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 all at the historic 4.014-mile road course.  Open-Wheels is excited to provide periodic updates over the next two days to keep fans of the ladder series in tune with IndyCar’s stars of tomorrow.

Below we will have updates from contributors on the scene as well as other resources that may be useful for our readers.  We hope you enjoy the coverage of the event and look forward to the second half of this Mazda Road to Indy championship across all three levels.

Testing Schedule  |  Indy Lights Entry List  |  Pro Mazda Entry List  |  USF2000 Entry List

Indy Lights  |  Combined Monday Results

Pro Mazda  |  Combined Monday Results

USF2000  |  Combined Monday Results

Monday, June 11 News and Notes

Update from 8:00 p.m. Central time

Day one of Mazda Road to Indy testing from Road America has concluded with Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 each getting two sessions of track time.

When we left you, Indy Lights was just 20 minutes away from wrapping up their session as Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni would set the fastest lap of the day.  The 2017 Pro Mazda champion registered a time of 1:53.5403s to clear Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta who all set their best times in the afternoon session.

The trio of Franzoni, O’Ward and Herta were separated by less than half of a second and each completed at least 33 laps.  Herta and Ryan Norman tied for most laps completed in Indy Lights today with 38 circuits each over two practice sessions.

There was one major incident on the day and it came near the outset of the final Indy Lights practice.  Andretti Autosport driver Dalton Kellett was on his out lap for the start of session two when he lost control of his No. 28 Dallara IL-15 and sustained heavy damage.

Kellett, 24, would miss the rest of the session without completing a lap and his morning time of 1:56.2560s was nearly three seconds off the pace set in the afternoon practice.  We will wait and see if Kellett is on track for Tuesday’s testing activity, though it is questionable at this time.

It was the day’s lone major accident.

One final note to wrap up the day was a little bit of insight on Pro Mazda points leader Parker Thompson’s odd day.  Thompson turned only six registered laps across the two sessions and none of them were at normal racing pace.

In the afternoon, his team had the rear wing off of the car while work was being done around the gearbox.  Will be interesting to see if they can solve their problems and salvage one day of the two-day test on Tuesday.

Teams will line up for an identical day of testing Tuesday at Road America with USF2000 hitting the track at 8:00 a.m. Central.  Each series on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder will get two test sessions, one each in the morning and afternoon.

Stay tuned to Open-Wheels where we will have a separate running post covering the action throughout the day.

Update from 5:00 p.m. Central time

Things are getting busy as a full day of testing winds down at Road America.

Following a break for lunch, USF2000 was back on track for their second of two testing sessions.  By the end of the day, Kyle Kirkwood’s lap of 2:09.4289s was still the high water mark despite 853 other laps turned from all drivers.

A total of 25 pilots took laps in USF2000 cars today with Kirkwood being quickest, followed by Lucas Kohl in P2 (who set his fastest time in the morning as well) and Igor Fraga P3.  Fraga, 19, was driving for Exclusive Autosport when he set a time of 2:09.8266 in the second session – the fastest of all drivers to complete a lap in the afternoon.

Rasmus Lindh, who was 4th-quickest for Pabst Racing, completed the most laps today with 44 circuits around the 4.014-mile Road America course.  In just two laps, Alex Baron was 9th quickest for Swan-RJB Motorsports, compiling the least amount of time on track out of all drivers to take times.

At 3:50 p.m. local time, Pro Mazda completed their doubleheader testing day as well with Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay jumping up and taking the top spot with a lap in the afternoon at 2:00.7511s.  VeeKay beat out BN Racing’s David Malukas who also posted his best time of the day in the afternoon at 2:00.9484s while Scott Harrison surprised and jumped into the top three with a lap at 2:01.5802.

Harrison was edged by Raul Guzman for most laps completed across the two sessions 44 to 41.  No other driver completed 40 laps of practice.

Also of note from Pro Mazda was the afternoon absence of Parker Thompson, the current points leader.  Thompson and his team never set a lap at true pace and could only muster a 2:39.3304s best lap time out of 6 broken laps.

Thompson wasn’t the only Pro Mazda star that had a less-than-stellar day as 2017 USF2000 champion and Mazda scholarship driver Oliver Askew did not participate in either of the two sessions today.  He was in street clothes for the second stanza of practice but rumors continue to circulate as to the reason why he wasn’t in his Cape Motorsports entry.

A total of 382 laps of Pro Mazda action was turned on the day.

Currently, Indy Lights is finishing up the final session of the day and has 30 minutes of track time remaining.  Here are the additional notes of interest from the afternoon.

  • Indy Lights driver Dalton Kellett was involved in an accident in the afternoon Lights practice that left his Andretti Autosport machine badly damaged.  He is done for the day and questionable to test in either of tomorrow’s two Indy Lights practices.  He did not record a lap time during session two and lost control of his machine on the out lap.
  • Charles Finelli had an engine issue in the first Pro Mazda session that kept him on the sidelines for the afternoon.  Elite Engines took his power plant back to the shop immediately and will try to get him back on track for tomorrow’s sessions.
  • Juncos Racing aligned its three Pro Mazda drivers into a designed grouping to test drafting at the long Road America circuit in the second session.  Rinus VeeKay, Carlos Cunha and Robert Megennis were part of a Juncos train to learn more about how to pass and draft for next weekend’s races.

Update from 1:55 p.m. Central time

Thus far, each rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder has taken part in testing today.  USF2000 kicked things off this morning, followed by Pro Mazda and then Indy Lights.

Currently, USF2000 is wrapping up their final session of the day.  They have 20 minutes of track time remaining at the time of this post.

The morning Pro Mazda session was paced by Robert Megennis of Juncos Racing.  Megennis, 18, broke the Road America track record for a Pro Mazda machine by lapping at 2:01.6717s, an average lap speed of 118.765 mph.  His best lap came on the 11th of 12 total laps completed in the session.

Following him was Juncos teammate Carlos Cunha at 2:01.8107s (completing 13 laps) while David Malukas placed his No. 79 HMD Trucking Pro Mazda third at 2:02.009s.  Malukas and Raul Guzman completed the most laps out of the 12 drivers in the session with 19 circuits each.

A cumulative 166 laps were completed out of the 12 drivers.  Pro Mazda championship leader Parker Thompson had a troubled session with just five total laps on his record with an off-pace 2:39.3304s lap being his quickest.  He and his Exclusive Autosport team will look to solve their problems before the afternoon session.

Third in line was Indy Lights with seven drivers on the record with laps completed.

Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward continued his hot start to the 2018 campaign by leading the session with a lap at 1:54.7245s.  O’Ward, currently second in the Indy Lights points standings, edged Aaron Telitz by 0.0023s for fastest lap in the session.  Telitz, a Wisconsin native, was at home at Road America and racked up 16 laps during the practice.

Points leader Colton Herta rounded out the top three with a lap time of 1:54.7797s in his No. 98 Steinbrenner Racing Dallara IL-15.  In the session, Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) was 4th, Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) was 5th, Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport) was 6th, and Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport) was 7th.

A total of 118 laps were completed in the session.

The weather at Road America currently is 73 degrees Fahrenheit under mostly cloudy conditions.  Here are some additional notes of interest from the track:

  • Driving veterans Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Roberto Moreno are on hand coaching various drivers in the ladder series today.
  • Oliver Askew arrived to Road America around noon Central time after missing the morning Pro Mazda session.
  • 2016 USF2000 champion Anthony Martin found his way back into a MRTI car today testing for Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda.

Update from 10:33 a.m. Central time

The Indy Lights drivers are taking to the circuit under mostly cloudy conditions.  The temperature is 66 degrees Fahrenheit with winds at 11 mph from the East.  The weather will remain partly cloudy through the day with temperatures barely reaching the mid-70s.

This morning, USF2000 championship leader Kyle Kirkwood paced the 23-car field in the first test session of the day.  Kirkwood set a best time of 2:09.4289s on his 18th lap and ran a total of 19 laps in the session.  Lucas Kohl was runner-up on the time sheets with a best lap of 2:09.6832s while Julian Van der Watt was third-quick with a hot lap of 2:10.6407s.

A total of 396 laps were turned in the session.

With Pro Mazda wrapping up their session now we will shortly provide updates on their results in the next refresh of information.  Additionally, here are some early notes from the morning across all series.

  • Toby Sowery of BN Racing, will only test on Tuesday due to a short turnaround from an event over the weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.  Sowery will pilot a Pro Mazda machine and arrive to Road America this evening.
  • Formula 4 driver Jacob Abel is testing with Abel Motorsports today, and that team is a possible new USF2000 entry for either the remaining events in 2018 or a fresh start in 2019.
  • Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy team owner Ricardo Juncos is on the grounds today supporting his Pro Mazda and Indy Lights programs.  Currently Victor Franzoni is the sole competitor for Juncos’ Lights program while Carlos Cunha, Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis are all part of the Juncos Pro Mazda stable.
  • 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew missed the morning Pro Mazda testing session.  Askew is currently 5th in the Pro Mazda standings, 73 points back of leader Parker Thompson.

Image courtesy of Mazda Road to Indy Media.

Tanner Watkins

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