MONTEREY, Calif. – Kyle Kaiser earned pole for the opening Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race after an intense qualifying session on Saturday morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The No. 18 Juncos Racing driver put down a lap of 107.034 mph (1:15.2733) around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn permanent road course to dethrone Ed Jones from the top spot and gain a valuable championship point on leader Santiago Urrutia, now trailing him by 39.
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“I feel great, I mean this is my home track,” said Kaiser, who is from just up the road in Santa Clara, Calif. “I love this course. The Cooper Tires have been great here all weekend. The Mazda engines are running great.
“I’m really just looking forward to trying to win both races now. I think we’re starting second for the second race, so all we can do is try and get the most points for this weekend.”
Jones came in 0.1171 of a second behind the “Soul Red Finale” race 1 pole sitter, coming in at 106.868 mph (1:15.3904).
“I think the first two sets of tires in qualifying we were quite a bit quicker than everyone and then we didn’t quite get the maximum out of the last set,” said Jones, driver of the No. 11 Carlin Mazda. “So that’s what cost us the pole, but we’ve got pole for tomorrow’s race. So it’s still looking good.
“The main object of this weekend is to finish ahead of Santi in both races for the championship. That the goal.”
Urrutia ended the session in his No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian Mazda directly behind Jones in third, followed by the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing Mazda of Zach Veach and the No. 4 Carlin Mazda of Felix Serralles to round out the top five.
Sean Rayhall will make his official series return this afternoon from the sixth position, while Dean Stoneman, one of the six still eligible for the title, will start eighth.
The six drivers remain eligible to win the championship and $1 million scholarship that grants the winner a three-race deal to drive next season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, including the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Race one of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Soul Red Finale doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is set to start at 6:10 p.m. ET today, with race two expected to go underway on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. PST.