In the midst of a rookie campaign in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Santiago Urrutia finds himself within striking distance of the championship with five races remaining heading to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 19-year-old Uruguayan has scored two wins this season and trails championship leader Ed Jones by 24 points heading into the doubleheader weekend July 29-31 at the 2.258-mile permanent road course.
But what may set the reigning Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires champion apart from his competition is his team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, the most successful Indy Lights organization with eight championships.
“I’m with one of the biggest teams in Indy Lights,” said Urrutia. “I have a lot of support from them. They lost the championship last year with Jack Harvey at Laguna Seca, so they decided to go chase the championship this year with me and I want to win it for them.
“I’m really happy to be with them because they are the best team in Indy Lights.”
Urrutia returns to one of his best tracks on the calendar, claiming a Pro Mazda win last year in addition to a third-place effort, and believes that it is going to take wins to catch the championship leader.
"I'm ready for Mid-Ohio,” said Urrutia. “It's one of my favorite circuits. I won there last year in Pro Mazda and we were pretty good when we tested there in the preseason. We were the quickest car in the morning and the second quickest in the afternoon.
“I'm confident that we can win and keep pushing for the championship. We're second right now but we need to get some wins if we want to come out on top."
Despite the No. 55 Mazda Dallara IL-15 driver’s success so far this season, he believes there is more to accomplish and that he must “keep working.”
“Good but not enough because I’ve made too many mistakes this season, so at the moment I can’t make any more mistakes,” said Urrutia. “But I’m happy. Guys coming in from Europe like (Felix) Rosenqvist, (the) FIA Formula 3 champion, (Dean) Stoneman, (Felix) Serralles. I’m competing against them and most of us are rookies.
“I think our season is pretty good, but I want to win the championship. So I have to keep working.”
The Honda Indy 200 weekend at Mid-Ohio will feature a key doubleheader for Indy Lights with one race each on Saturday and Sunday. Jones leads Urrutia and Serralles in a tight championship battle that has the top six separated by a mere 47 points.
Pro Mazda will conduct a Saturday doubleheader. Team Pelfrey’s duo of Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz come to Lexington, Ohio, tied for the championship lead with 297 points.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda is set for a tripleheader weekend, with one race each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Parker Thompson leads Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Anthony Martin by 20 points in the standings.
All Mazda Road to Indy events are streamed live at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.