Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Kaiser Claims Weekend Sweep in Toronto to Extend Series Lead

TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Kyle Kaiser drove another exemplary race today on the streets around Exhibition Place to claim the second leg of this weekend’s Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. 
 
The Californian took advantage of some misfortune for polesitter Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing), then posted a series of fastest race laps to claim his second victory in as many days and his third of the season to take a commanding lead of 52 points into the final four races of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.
 
Aaron Telitz, the winner of last year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the middle step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, finished second for Belardi Auto Racing, while Carlin’s Zachary Claman DeMelo rounded out the podium.
 
Herta, 17, from Valencia, Calif., took advantage of perfect track conditions this morning to post a new lap record of 1:05.0049 (98.849 mph) in qualifying for today’s 12th round of the season. Then, after a first-corner incident eliminated the cars of Frenchman Nico Jamin (Andretti Autosport), Tennessean Shelby Blackstock (Belardi Auto Racing) and Californian Neil Alberico (Carlin), Herta quickly began to pull away from Kaiser, who started third but had made a bold move to displace front row starter Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) at Turn One.
 
Herta stretched his advantage after the restart to almost four seconds over the course of the next five laps, only for that margin to be erased by another full-course caution after Urrutia ground to halt with a mechanical problem.
 
Herta continued to lead at the restart, only this time Indy Lights veteran Kaiser, 21, from Santa Clara, Calif., was able to stay with him and keep the youngster within his sights. The pair set a fast pace as they stretched clear of Telitz, who had overtaken DeMelo at Turn Three  shortly after the restart. Herta, though, had lightly glanced one of the omni-present and unforgiving concrete walls with his car’s left-rear wheel. That minimal impact proved to be the difference between success and disappointment as, on Lap 26, the rear suspension abruptly broke at Turn Six. The unfortunate Herta did well to maintain control but his race was over.
 
Kaiser was gifted a clear advantage over Telitz, which he extended to almost nine seconds before easing off to ensure victory by a comfortable margin of 5.8649 seconds.
 
Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., soaked up the pressure from Montreal’s DeMelo to secure the third podium finish of his rookie campaign, while Colombian Juan Piedrahita snagged his best result of the season, fifth, for Team Pelfrey.
 
Kaiser’s closest challenger for the championship, Matheus Leist, endured another tough day with the Carlin team. After qualifying a disappointing 11th, the Brazilian rookie made a mistake at Turn Three while challenging for seventh, although he did show some more competitive pace as he fought back to fifth at the finish after passing Tilton Hard Charger Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport), who rose to sixth after starting 14th. Nicolas Dapero finished seventh for Juncos Racing to claim the Staubli Award.
 
Kaiser now leads Leist by 280 points to 228 as the series heads next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in two weeks’ time for another double-header event held once again in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Today’s race will air tomorrow on NBCSN at 7:00 pm EDT.
 
Kyle Kaiser (#18 Juncos Racing): “I knew this would be a good weekend for us because the team has always had a good setup here – Spencer won both races two years ago. But it’s really been a dream weekend – I’ve never had a double win weekend before. Actually, I can’t believe it. My goal in the race, with two really good, really aggressive drivers ahead of us, was just to keep it clean and finish the race. Going into Turn One I made a good start and when I realized we were three-wide, I hugged the inside as tight as I could. I know it sounds weird, but I was OK with the points for second. But I saw Colton getting close to the wall a couple times and I thought if he made a mistake, I would be ready. I’m usually on the bad end of luck but this year I was rewarded. I am definitely more confident and more relaxed heading into Mid-Ohio, having a little bit of a cushion in the championship. It’s unrealistic to say that the pressure won’t affect me, but it is a little bit less now.”
 
Aaron Telitz (#9 Mazda/Rice Lake Weighing Systems – Belardi Auto Racing): “I’ve been driving my butt off since St. Pete, where we had that awesome opener. We have been in a bit of a slump lately, pace-wise, so to come off the truck here fast and to finish on the podium today is great. I had a fast car, made good passes and stayed out of the crashes – people were all over the place. I battled hard with Zach and Santi. Guys were racing as clean as they could but it’s a tight street course – a bit too tight for some of the moves guys were making. This ups the confidence going into Mid-Ohio so hopefully we’ll keep it going.”
 
Zachary Claman DeMelo (#13 ZCD Montreal/Zoological Wildlife Foundation – Carlin): “It’s great to get two podiums here in Toronto. I’ve raced karts here since I was 8 years old and it’s like my second home. I’ve hit my rhythm, so things are starting to really come together for us now. The speed has always been there but we’re qualifying toward the front now, which makes the racing a lot easier. The track was really slick and I was able to challenge Kyle early but I didn’t have the pace after the restart. I stayed out of trouble and was quick today, so though I’m disappointed not to get second, we’re on a high and I just want to keep it going at Mid-Ohio.”
###
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

USF2000 Observations: “Some Kid Decided to Run Into Me”

TORONTO, Ontario — The Honda Indy Toronto delivered the best of both worlds for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda – a clean race, along with a dramatic follow-up. Despite this, the red and white maple leaf waved in front of the Canadian fans both days with Alberta native Parker Thompson sweeping the weekend.

With the weekend complete, here are some observations…..

“I’m Honestly Speechless”

After placing second in the points standings last year driving for Cape Motorsports, Parker Thompson landed himself with a new team for 2017. Canada-based Exclusive Autosport made the decision to enter USF2000 competition after taking multiple F1600 Championships and wanted Thompson to lead the team.

While most teams tend to struggle in their rookie campaign, Exclusive Autosport came out of the gate strong, only scoring one finish outside of the top-five in the first eight races this season. Though one thing was missing – a victory.

Thompson proved last year he knew his way around the street circuit, sweeping the weekend, and that dominance showed through again this year, as he swept the weekend once again.

“If we could have swept any weekend on the calendar, I think it would’ve been Toronto,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “It is ultimately the best race of the season for us. (The) Canadian team, Canadian car, Canadian race and Canadian fans – unbelievable. I’m honestly speechless. That’s pretty rare for me. I usually have lots of words, but today has been unbelievable.”

The Canadian led all 25 laps in race one after starting from the pole, followed by avoiding a Lap 9 crash among the leaders to take over the top spot, driving away from the field on the restart.

“I backed off about a quarter of the way into the race because I knew something was going to go wrong,” he said. “I saw them battling way too hard, way too early so I backed off to make sure everything would be okay for us, and it worked out. I kind of foreseen that accident happening. I saw them going into turn three, made contact, and I knew coming around turn three that they’d probably be together, and I came around, and they were off to the side. It was just enough room to get by first.”

Currently sitting third in points, but 77 markers behind Oliver Askew, Thompson says his team is focused on trying to “out-win the season.”

“We’re going to go for as many wins as we can to try and finish off the season, and what happens, happens,” he said. “When the dust settles in the championship, it settles. I think if we just do our job as a team and go after race wins, it’ll just play out for us.”

An Inevitable Crash

From the drop of the green flag in the second race, the battle for the lead between Alex Baron and David Malukas for the top spot was intense, as Malukas tried to find away around Baron for the top spot. The battle grew to a point where Parker Thompson backed off in the fourth spot to give them room, while Oliver Askew hoped he could avoid it when it happened.

“It was an inevitable that they were going to crash,” Askew told POPULAR SPEED. “They were pretty desperate for a win there early. We went to turn three – I couldn’t back up because Parker was right behind me. They did end up crashing, and they wheel-hopped together and went to the inside. I was trying to avoid it, but they shot into me on the inside.”

Going into turn three, Malukas got a run on Baron, making a move to the inside. However, Baron came down on him, resulting in contact and both cars going around, with Askew getting caught up in the process.

“Well, basically I was in the lead, and some kid decided to bump into me from a stupid length behind me, and basically wreck me,” Baron told POPULAR SPEED.

Malukas took time post-race to review a replay of the crash with his team, confused why he was getting all the blame for the accident.

“I looked at the video and looking at that, going into turn three, I come in for a good pass, and then he puts me down close to the wall and gives me zero room,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “From that point, there’s nothing that I could do. I looked at the video, and I’m right next to the wall, right next to him – by that point, we’ve already touched in the middle of the apex. But before, if he would’ve given me a little more room, it would’ve been a clean pass.”

Despite posting just two top-10’s in six starts, he remains confident in his team based on the speed they showed at Road America and this past weekend.

“We had a good race in Road America and had a lot of speed here, as well,” he said. “In race one, we were six-tenths faster till we had a mechanical failure. This race, we had the new tires and were pushing. Confidence wise, it’s a good boost. It’s just quite unlucky, again, for this crash. So hopefully the next race we can finish up front.”

Solid Weekend for Veekay

In both events across the weekend, Rinus Veekay was able to run up front, placing third and second in the pair of races to gain valuable points in the championship, now sitting 18 points behind Oliver Askew – compared to a gap of over 30 points entering Toronto.

Veekay has been solid on a weekly basis this year, not placing outside of the top-six with nine top-five’s in 10 races. In comparison, though, Askew has won five races – along with two finishes outside of the top-10.

Despite the points gap shrinking, Askew is remaining focused on the end goal, knowing that he cannot get complacent.

“I think we saw that we could have a bad weekend, at Road America for example,” he said. “It was tough for us. We just have to keep going, one race at a time. I don’t think they’ve taught me anything particular, but just things, in general, each week.”

Frederick Rebounds

Kaylen Frederick did not start off the weekend as he wanted, but he will leave Toronto with a smile on his face.

The teenager had a mechanical issue on Lap 2 of the first race, followed by qualifying 13th for the second event following a penalty. However, he was able to avoid the wrecks on Sunday, driving through the field to place third.

“It was great,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I went into the race thinking I could only move forward from here, so I just put my head down and passed cars one-by-one. As they were crashing out, I kept it off the wall, so I’m really happy with how things played out today.”

With eight top-six finishes in 10 races, Frederick knows he has the speed to run up front but is aware that qualifying needs to go better if he wants to break through for his first career victory.

“I think if I start up in the top-five and keep doing what I’m doing, it’ll come,” he said.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

 

 

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Thompson Doubles Up for Exclusive Autosport in Canadian Homeland

Dutchman VeeKay Finishes Second to Narrow Points Deficit to Crash-Affected Askew
 
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – For the second day in a row, Canadian Parker Thompson guided his Exclusive Autosport Tatuus USF-17 to a hard-won victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. The native of Red Deer, Alb., was assisted on this occasion by an incident which eliminated the top three contenders, including Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Oliver Askew. Thompson then had to work hard to keep fellow teenager Rinus VeeKay, from The Netherlands, behind him.
 
Also for the second successive day, Pabst Racing’s VeeKay earned an extra championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race. He now trails Askew by only 18 points with just three races remaining this season.
 
Kaylen Frederick, 15, from Potomac, Md., also impressed for Team Pelfrey, claiming the Tilton Hard Charger Award as he rose from 13th on the grid to third at the checkered flag.
 
Askew started from the pole for Cape Motorsports, having posted a new qualifying lap record yesterday, but came under pressure immediately from fellow front row qualifier David Malukas (BN Racing). When the two leaders both left their braking a fraction too late and slid wide in Turn Three, Anglo-Frenchman Alex Baron (ArmsUp Motorsports) was perfectly positioned to take advantage and advance from third to first in one fell swoop. Askew continued in second, but Malukas was determined to use his pace to its fullest effect. 
 
Thompson and VeeKay also were in close attendance as the five leaders edged clear of Team Pelfrey’s Robert Megennis and the remainder of the field. Malukas snuck past Askew for second place in Turn Eight on Lap Four, and immediately began to put the pressure on Baron, who was turning consistent laps at the front of the pack. 
 
Malukas drew alongside Baron several times on the drag race along Lake Shore Boulevard, only for Baron to ensure he held the preferred inside line under braking for Turn Three. Finally, on the ninth lap, Baron slipped a little wide at the exit, whereupon Malukas dived for the inside as they accelerated uphill out of the hairpin before making contact with the rear of Baron’s car and spinning him around. A close-following Askew also was involved.
 
Thompson and VeeKay managed to avoid the spinning cars and inherited the top two positions as the Safety Car was deployed to clear the track. 
 
Thompson romped clear at the restart to claim his third win in two years on the streets of Exhibition Place just a few miles from downtown Toronto, while VeeKay charged hard to close the gap and finished just 0.6379 second in arrears.
 
Frederick charged through to seventh prior to the caution and, despite losing a position to Devin Wojcik (ArmsUp Motorsports) soon after the restart, quickly regrouped and continued his forward progress to finish fourth.
 
Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., also drove a fine race, raising from 11th on the grid to fourth ahead of Megennis and Wojcik, who claimed a season-best sixth.
 
Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe, from Saskatoon, Sas., Canada, claimed his second successive PFC Award as the winning car owner, while Keane secured the Staubli Award.
 
Askew leads the championship with 283 points to VeeKay’s 265 as the USF2000 contenders head next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for another double-header event on July 28-30.
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “I’m surprised I still have a voice! What a feeling, to get two in ‘TO’ in front of the Canadian fans! I’d say this is unbelievable, but it’s past that now and into its own new realm. I knew I had the pace so I hung back to let things string out before I attacked. I saw the three of them lock up so I backed off and I had just enough of a gap to squeeze through. And after yesterday, I was really calm on the restart. I had my team owner, Michael Duncalfe, talking to me on the radio keeping me prepared, so I just got a good jump on the restart and worked to keep Rinus behind me the rest of the way. The Exclusive Autosport crew has done such a great job – to take two wins, two poles and multiple podiums in their first season on the Mazda Road to Indy is outstanding. We’re only getting stronger.”
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “My first thought when I saw what was happening to the guys ahead of me was to not get in there, to just go around and stay on track. Once we went green, I had a good restart and I wanted to pass Parker for the points, but Robert had a great restart and he was right on my gearbox. I had to defend, and there was some wheel-banging, and that let Parker get away. I had the speed, getting the quick lap late in the race, but I got the most points I could and that’s what’s important. But I have to say, if I couldn’t win here, I am happy that Parker won.”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Indy Lights Points Leader Kaiser Scores Comfortable Win in Toronto

TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Kyle Kaiser’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires points lead had been gradually eroded in recent weeks, but the 21-year-old Californian stemmed the tide with an accomplished victory this afternoon for Juncos Racing in the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products on the streets of Toronto.
 
Kaiser’s second win of the season, combined with a mistake by series rival Matheus Leist (Carlin), allowed him to extend his margin to 38 points with only five races remaining. The champion will claim a Mazda Scholarship valued at $1 million to ensure entry into three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
 
Carlin’s Zachary Claman DeMelo, from Montreal, Que., Canada, finished second after a race-long battle with Uruguay’s Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) and Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing).
 
Just a few hours after securing his third pole of the season with a new qualifying lap record of 1:05.3511, an average speed of 98.385 mph, Kaiser made the jump from pole position and headed into Turn One with a clear advantage over his pursuers. Leist, who qualified second, immediately lost a position to Claman DeMelo, which allowed Kaiser even more leeway to make a break at the front. He needed no second bidding. 
 
With two laps of the 1.786-mile temporary circuit in the books, Kaiser was already more than 2.4 seconds to the good.
 
Leist, meanwhile, was clearly struggling to hold off a gaggle of cars headed by Urrutia, local Toronto favorite Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport) and Californian Neil Alberico (Carlin). Then, on Lap 4, he left his braking a tad too late at Turn Eight, missed his apex and clattered into the tire barrier on the exit of the corner. Farther back in the pack, Frenchman Nico Jamin (Andretti Autosport) was unable to avoid contact with the stricken Carlin car. He, too, was out of the race with broken suspension.
 
After a full-course caution to clear away the debris, Kaiser took off again in the lead and was never seriously challenged. The third-year Indy Lights veteran extended his lead to over 6.5 seconds before easing off in the closing stages to take the checkered flag 3.6118 seconds to the good.
 
Urrutia and Claman DeMelo enjoyed an exciting tussle for second place following the restart before the Canadian reasserted himself and maintained position until the finish. Herta, meanwhile, after slipping from eighth on the grid to 10th in the early stages, made remarkable progress at the restart, rising quickly to fourth place. Herta, the youngest driver in the field at age 17, then put the pressure on Urrutia, posting the fastest lap of the race en route to his third consecutive top-four finish.
 
Aaron Telitz, last year’s champion in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, finished a lonely fifth for Belardi Auto Racing – and earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award in the process – well clear of Colombian Juan Piedrahita (Team Pelfrey), who narrowly held off Nicolas Dapero (Juncos Racing) following a race-long battle. Piedrahita claimed the Staubli Award.
 
The grid for tomorrow’s 12th round of the 16-race Indy Lights season will be set during a separate qualifying session at 9:00 a.m., with the green flag slated for 12:25 p.m. EDT. Live timing and live streaming will be available on the RoadToIndy.TV App, RoadToIndy.TVindylights.com and indycar.com. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN at 7:00 pm EDT on Monday.
 
Kyle Kaiser (#18 Juncos Racing): “It’s amazing – this is my first win on a street course. So now I can say I’ve won on an oval, a road course and a street course and this means a lot. Toronto is one of the better street courses to pass on but if you get a gap, it is really hard to get around someone. The team was telling me the gap every lap, so I knew who was behind me and how far back they were and I was using that to gauge how hard to push. It was a very conscious race, focusing on what I had to do but also being aware of what was going on behind me. But I try not to over think it and go into every race weekend to win. Some weekends, you don’t have the setup so you focus on not getting frustrated and running with what you have. This weekend, we had the fastest car so we maximized what we had. All the stars are aligning.”
 
Zachary Claman DeMelo (#13 ZCD Montreal/Zoological Wildlife Foundation – Carlin): “I tried to look forward as much as I could, hitting my marks and not making any mistakes. I didn’t want to fight with Santi because I know he’s a tough driver to fight against. We had good pace early on but fell off a bit toward the end, so we’ll fix that and go for the win tomorrow. Since Indianapolis, I’ve worked really hard with the team, done a few sim days and looked at a lot of data – it’s been a big push mid-season. I’m really happy with the car and really happy with the team. We’ve learned so much together and they’ve taught me a lot. If it had been like this at the beginning of the year, we could have been championship contenders but it’s not over yet.”
 
Santi Urrutia (#5 Belardi Auto Racing w/SPM: “The car was good in free practice yesterday but something changed on the car for qualifying that didn’t work. I got hit on the restart and the car wasn’t the same after that. I pushed hard. The team has worked very hard since Iowa where we had a good result. We’re getting better and better but we just can’t find that last little bit of speed that will give us the win. But tomorrow is another day so we’ll work on the car, hopefully have a good qualifying in the morning and go for the race win.”
 
###
 
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Canadian Thompson Claims Emotional Repeat USF2000 Win in Toronto

First-Ever Win for Saskatchewan-based Exclusive Autosport Team
 
TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Series veteran Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada has endured a torrid time since joining the Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport team’s campaign for this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, but, in storybook style, all the pieces fell into place today on home soil in the first of two races this weekend which comprise the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products. Thompson, 19, who claimed an emotional victory last year on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place, rediscovered that form today as he led throughout an all-green 30-minute race to secure his first win of the season.
 
Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., extended his championship lead for the Cape Motorsports team by finishing second ahead of his closest title rival, Dutchman Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing), who snared the bonus point for fastest race lap in the closing stages.
 
After a particularly difficult time last Sunday on the Iowa Speedway oval, Thompson and the team regrouped this week and were determined to put on a good showing in their native Canada. Thompson delivered in spades. He qualified on the pole yesterday afternoon – a first for Exclusive Autosport – and made a perfect getaway at the rolling start to lead from Askew, VeeKay and Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey).
 
The top three positions remained unchanged throughout the 25-lap, 30-minute race, but there was plenty of action in their wake. Firstly, a mistake by Frederick while under pressure from David Malukas (BN Racing) saw him collect the wall in Turn Eight. Malukas then closed quickly on the leading trio and managed to sneak past VeeKay for third place in Turn Eight before a broken camber bolt in his rear suspension ended another promising day after just nine laps.
 
Mexico City’s Jose Sierra drove an impressive race for DEForce Racing to finish fourth on his debut and snag the Staubli Award. Sierra profited when a close-following Calvin Ming (Pabst Racing), from Guyana, and Frenchman Alex Baron (ArmsUp Motorsports) collided at Turn Three while Baron was trying to make a pass. Robert Megennis also was in the mix for Team Pelfrey before clipping the wall in Turn Six and breaking his Tatuus USF-17’s suspension.
 
Brazilian Lucas Kohl thereby inherited fifth place, which earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award having lined up 12th on the starting grid.
 
Baron recovered to sixth ahead of teammate Devin Wojcik, who survived two scrapes with the wall in the closing stages. Both picked up two positions after Moises de la Vara (DEForce Racing) was penalized for overly defensive driving.
 
The PFC Award went to winning car owner Michael Duncalfe following his team’s maiden USF2000 victory.
 
A separate qualifying session earlier this morning saw Askew snare the pole position for tomorrow’s 11th round of the 14-race season with a new lap record of 1:12.2192 (89.029 mph). The green flag is slated for 9:40 a.m. EDT tomorrow morning. Live timing and live streaming will be available on the series website, usf2000.com, as well as on indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App and RoadToIndy.TV.
 
Parker Thompson (#91 Exclusive Autosport Openhwy): “When the checkered flag came out, the emotions were just so high – I was screaming, so I apologize to anybody on my radio channel. This win tops anything I’ve done this year. It’s extremely hard to win in this series and I think I took a few wins for granted last year, but to have the team behind me here is so emotional. They are so invested in winning so to get the job done for them and get our first win together feels so good. It’s been a testing season – Exclusive Autosport is new to the Mazda Road to Indy so we knew we had a tough challenge against some very dominant teams. But coming into our home race, we were very confident. I know I’m fast here and I knew we had a great street course setup from St. Pete and the team did what they do best: they gave me a great race car and I drove it well to take the win. I can’t thank them enough!”
 
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “I was a tenth quicker than Parker but with the track having such low grip, it’s hard to pass. There’s aero loss at other tracks but here it’s magnified because it’s so slick. I couldn’t do anything because of the aero wash. You have to be so precise and get your turn-in points right and hit your marks. If you turn in too wide you’re going to completely lose the car. It’s demanding but I enjoy it – it’s a great challenge and it’s something different. I’ll have a better starting position tomorrow so I’ll be able to go for more points.”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Parker Thompson Going All-in For Victory in Toronto

TORONTO, Ont. — Last year, Parker Thompson put together an impressive Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda season, finishing second in points with a victory on the streets of Toronto.

The Alberta native returns to Ontario’s capital a year later, looking to repeat the dominating performance once again – though driving for a different race team than last season. Exclusive Autosport made the decision to enter USF2000 competition after taking home multiple F1600 Championships, pegging Thompson as one of their drivers.

With a pair of thirds in eight races this season, Thompson has been pleased with the team’s progress, noting they are the first team in the last decade to enter the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires and score podium finishes.

While the transition period has been smooth, he stated one of the biggest differences from the past two years to now is playing the role as a team leader.

“You have to lead car development, media, marketing – you have to be the lead, and get the engineers up to speed, too,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m working with Christophe Boisclair – he’s an amazing engineer, but it’s his first year in USF2000. He did great in F1600; they’ve won many championships. But now, you’re not only adding mechanical changes but aerodynamics. So that’s something we’re working together and getting used to.”

Thompson feels they are right on the cusp of breaking through for their first career victory but need to eliminate the small mistakes they have been making throughout race weekends.

“It’s not necessarily that we don’t have a fast car; it’s just we miss little things on tire strategy, whether it be qualifying or the races, that kind of leads to a fifth-place finish or just off the podium,” he said. “I think once we start learning how these weekends go and we get better at the strategy throughout the weekend, we will be right there.”

Returning to a place that he has won at before couldn’t come at a better time, based on where he sits in points. Currently sitting fourth in the standings, just over 100 points behind Oliver Askew, the focus has been solely put on getting to victory lane.

“There’s a lot more for me to gain than there is for me to lose,” the Canadian said. “So I’m not thinking about the championship at all, but coming out of here with two race wins for the Canadian fans. So that’s what we’re focused on at the end of the day. We’re going for wins no matter what, and hopefully, we have some good results at the end of the weekend.”

While you may say he is set to ‘go for broke,’ the advice he received from his coach Buddy Rice will be in the back of his mind throughout both events – risk versus reward.

“He always taught that before you make any decision on-track, two things that come up – is it worth the risk, or is it worth the reward? I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind when you’re racing, especially here on a street course,” he said. “Is it a couple of extra tenths worth a hit on the wall? You have to make that quick second decision. ”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Askew Romps to Sixth Win of the Season in Sole Oval Outing

NEWTON, Iowa. – Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew couldn’t ask for a more perfect day. The 20-year-old rookie from Jupiter, Fla., secured his fifth pole position this morning at Iowa Speedway followed by a flag-to-flag win in the Mazda Iowa 60 Presented by Cooper Tires a few short hours later to stretch his lead in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with five rounds remaining.
 
Following a three-hour test session on Friday with Pabst Racing’s Calvin Ming at the top of the timetable and a 45-minute practice session yesterday paced by young Kaylen Frederick of Team Pelfrey, single-car qualifying took place with Ming, teammate Rinus VeeKay and Alex Baron of ArmsUp Motorsports locking up the front two rows.
 
Askew was able to hold off Ming at the green flag to move into the lead and he never looked back, crossing the finish line with an almost four-second advantage over his nearest championship rival VeeKay, a two-time winner this season,  who found a way past Ming in the closing stages. Baron and Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey) rounded out the top five.
 
The biggest movers in the caution-free race were Frederick, who maneuvered from eighth to sixth and earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award, and Devin Wojcik of ArmsUp Motorsports with a drive from 11th to ninth.
 
Askew now holds a 32-point advantage in the championship over VeeKay followed by Frederick, Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) and Ming.
 
Baron claimed the Staubli Award while the PFC Award went to the winning team of Cape Motorsports. 
 
USF2000 will head across the border this week for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products on July 15/16, Rounds 10 and 11 of the 14-race schedule.
 
Oliver Askew (#2 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing – Cape Motorsports):  “I had no experience on an oval at all coming into this year, so I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. The team told me it was halfway and I thought that should have been the race distance! It’s different when you’re not under pressure, you feel the fatigue more – I went to cheer to the guys when I came across the line, but I couldn’t take my hand off the wheel. It felt like it was soldered on. We struggled a bit yesterday but we made a really good change last night and were quick today. It’s hard to pass here but we knew that if we got the pole and through the first couple of corners, we’d be set. It was awesome to be able to pull away. Then I was just focusing on attacking the corners and not getting lazy. We have to take one weekend at a time and do our best.”
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total – Pabst Racing): “This was fun – when you pass someone on an oval, it’s more of a kick than when you pass on a road course. It’s much trickier. Calvin and I pretty much stayed together but it was hard to overtake. And with the bumps, there are not many lines that you can take. I really did have a moment out there, though. Getting around a lapped car going into Turn Two the wind hit my wing, which put me sideways and I had to correct several times. I was behind Calvin for 30 or 40 laps when we came up on a lapped car. Calvin took the outside, I drafted on the inside and got by. I was able to drive away from Calvin and made some gains on Oliver, but couldn’t reach him. But the team gave me a great car: it was so good to drive.”
 
Calvin Ming (#22 Mings Products and Services (MPS)/APAN – Pabst Racing): “I made a really good start alongside Oliver. You can kind of go flat into Turn One and I tried to follow Oliver but his car was just planted. I got a little sideways but you have to push from the start to see if you can get a good run. It meant Oliver got a good lead from the start – he just kept opening it up and I couldn’t pull it back. This was my first full weekend on a oval and it was a great experience. We did over 200 laps on the test day and it was quite a bit to take in. The track was a lot different today than yesterday with the heat and sun. A lot of grease came up and the cars were really sliding around.”
###
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

MRTI Observations: Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires

On Sunday afternoon at Iowa Speedway, there was no catching Matheus Leist as after taking the top spot on Lap 32, he drove away from the field en route to scoring the Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires victory.

Here are some observations from the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires event.

Matheus Dominates

With three victories in the last four races, Matheus Leist is finding his groove in Indy Lights after a rough start to the season with two finishes outside of the top-10. Now with eight straight top-seven finishes, the Carlin Racing driver has moved up to second in points, 13 markers ahead of Kyle Kaiser.

While Leist’s wins at Indianapolis and Road America were impressive, the victory on Sunday goes beyond those. He did not have the best starting position, qualifying 10th, and managed to build a gap of 2.93 seconds ahead of Santiago Urrutia by the time the checkered flag flew. The gap could have been larger, but Leist elected to back his lap times down once he got the lead to conserve the tires.

Being almost three seconds ahead was enough to cause some confusion, though, as Urrutia thought he won the event, performing a series of donuts on the frontstretch post-race.

“When I went by (Dalton) Kellett, I thought that I had gotten the lead, so I thought, ‘alright’ because I had never seen Leist,” Urrutia said post-race. “So when I get by Kellett, I tried to save a little and then thought we won at the end. But it’s alright, we struggled today so to get back through there and a good solid finish, is a great result, and hopefully, we can run well in Toronto, too.”

Rough Day for Rickards

Out of the 14 drivers that started, only one failed to finish the event, which was Garth Rickards. He went around for a quick spin on the backstretch at Lap 23, before pulling off shortly after the restart and retiring from the event.

“Right off the start it didn’t feel right,” he said. “It was loose. I tried to use the bars to improve the handling, but it just didn’t work. It felt good in practice, but it was just undrivable there.”

The 14th-place finish adds to the struggles this year for Rickards, who has posted only two top-10’s in his rookie campaign.

Colton Leads Early

Before Leist making his way through the field, Colton Herta led the first 32 circuits from the pole and looked set to score his third victory of 2017 possibly. However, he would fade through the second half of the 100 lap event to a fourth-place finish.

“They had it figured out today,” he said. “The car went loose on us, and there’s not much that you can do on a short oval when that happens.”

Herta started off his season well with two wins and a runner-up in the first four races but struggled with only one top-10 in the following four events. Now with back-to-back top-fives, it seems momentum is back on the young driver’s side as he heads to the streets of Toronto for the first time in his career. The street circuit could be the right ticket to getting back in victory lane; his first career win came on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Debut Put on Hold

Chad Boat was supposed to make his series debut, but that was delayed till Gateway Motorsports Park.

The 25-year-old was not medically cleared by INDYCAR officials to drive due to injuries sustained during a National USAC midget race on Sunday, July 2.

“To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I’m feeling right now, but I trust the doctors and medical staff at INDYCAR and know they have my best interest in mind,” said Boat. “I’ll continue to follow the instructions I’m receiving for recovery and look forward to being back soon. Thanks to Pristine Auction and Belardi Auto Racing for the opportunity.”

Belardi Auto Racing team owner Brian Belardi added that he was “extremely disheartened” by the news, but “remains excited and positive about the future based on his pace in last week’s test.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Leist Wins Iowa Speedway Thriller

Urrutia’s Impressive Charge Through Field Nets Well-Deserved Second
 
NEWTON, Iowa – Rookie Matheus Leist is quickly becoming an oval master, following up his Freedom 100 victory in May with his second oval win of the season – and third victory overall – in an action-packed Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires race this afternoon. His victory marks the third consecutive run to the checkers for Carlin, who won at the super-fast speedway in 2015 with Max Chilton and Felix Serralles last year in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
 
Qualifying was held earlier in the day with Colton Herta of Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing claiming his fourth pole to date and setting a new track record in the process with a two-lap average of 39.3279 seconds (163.670 mph). Carlin’s Zachary Claman DeMelo – who claimed his maiden win the last round at Road America – points leader Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Norman comprised the first two rows. Six drivers in total bested the existing track record.
 
Herta led through the opening laps but a brief four-lap caution on Lap 23, when Garth Rickards (Carlin) spun in Turn Two, set the stage for a complete shuffle at the front of the field. Leist, who qualified 10th and had moved into fourth at that stage, took advantage of a bunched up field and made quick work to pass Claman DeMelo for third, Kaiser for second and Herta for the lead.
 
The side-by-side action continued with Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport), who qualified fifth, moving into contention and a hard-charging Urrutia. With Leist comfortably out front, Urrutia and Kellett became the stars of the show. Urrutia, last year’s Indy Lights vice-champion, sliced through the field from an 11th place grid position and became embroiled in a great dual with Kellett for the second step on the podium which he solidified with 18 laps to go. Kellett, who set the fastest lap of the race and also earned the Staubli Award, crossed the line in third followed by Herta and Kaiser.
 
Although tied on positions gained, Leist claimed the Tilton Hard Charger Award as the highest finisher over Urrutia.
 
Kaiser’s point lead has been cut in half and he now maintains a 13-point advantage over Leist with Herta a further 35 points in arrears in third. In the Team Championship, Andretti Autosport and Carlin are tied, with the tie-breaker going to Andretti on more third-place finishes (four to three).
 
Indy Lights will return to action this week for a doubleheader Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products on July 15/16 at the challenging Toronto street circuit.
Matheus Leist (#26 TMA – Carlin): “I’m so happy. I think this was my best race this year. Of course, the Freedom 100 was great but I led the whole race. Here, I needed to move forward and I did. I’m so happy for the team – we needed to make some points today. It was a little tricky in the beginning, on new tires. When I managed to overtake Neil just before the yellow, I found out that the high line was perfect for me. When the race restarted, I ran the high line and everyone else was low so I think I passed three drivers in Turn One. I couldn’t believe everyone stayed on the inside. The car was just so good so I was able to open a gap, save my tires and get the win. It is a very difficult championship since everything here is new to me so I am being realistic. We’re in a good position now so if we can keep winning, we can keep fighting.”
Santi Urrutia (#5 Belardi Auto Racing w/SPM): “We have been struggling, especially in qualifying, so starting in the back is difficult. But we found the speed for the race. I had a really good car today – I was able to pass on the inside early but then I realized the high line was better and found a good groove out there. It’s good points for the championship. But at the end of the race I did donuts because I thought I won! When I passed Dalton I thought I was leading because I never saw Matheus. I came into Victory Lane and my mechanics were happy, but not super happy and I didn’t understand why they didn’t park me inside the podium. Then they told me ‘Santi, you finished second.’ Now we’ll head to Toronto and try to figure things out and have a strong weekend. The championship is still alive – I am far back but it’s not over yet.”
 
Dalton Kellett (#28 K-Line Insulators USA, Inc. Mazda – Andretti Autosport): “It just shows all the work the Andretti team has done this weekend. We have been fast all weekend, and in qualifying and the race we had a very consistent car. Santi, Kyle, Colton and I were able to run side-by-side at different moments, running two-wide around the whole track. We really focused on having a good race car and keeping the Cooper tires under us the whole race. There were some great battles all race long out there!”
###
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Chad Boat to Make Indy Lights Debut at Iowa

Belardi Auto Racing will have four cars at Iowa Speedway, as the Indiana-based team announced on Wednesday that Chad Boat will make his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires debut on Sunday, July 9.

The team also announced that Boat will be behind the wheel of the No. 84 Pristine Auction entry for the race at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday, August 26. 

“We’re extremely pleased to announce the addition of Chad Boat to our stable of drivers for the Iowa and Gateway Indy Lights oval races this summer,” offered Belardi Auto Racing owner Brian Belardi. “It’s exciting to have a second-generation driver running with us, and we’re certainly looking forward to getting Chad on track in Iowa.”

The 25-year-old has been making a name for himself in the USAC ranks, picking up Rookie of the Year honors in both the USAC National Midget and Sprint Car divisions. He also has previous experience at Iowa Speedway behind the wheel of a stock car, competing in two NASCAR XFINITY Series events with a best finish of 22nd. Prior to the event, he did take part in the team test at the 0.894-mile Newton, IA on Tuesday evening. 

“I grew up watching my dad race Indy cars, so having the opportunity to run Indy Lights this year is absolutely surreal,” the second generation driver said. “I have to thank Belardi Auto Racing for giving me a shot behind the wheel of the No. 84 Dallara, as well as Pristine Auction for their continued support in my racing career. I can’t wait to get to Iowa Speedway.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.