MRTI Iowa qualifying: Ming not fazed in oval indoctrination

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NEWTON, Iowa - Calvin Ming is showing no reluctance in his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda oval track debut.

The driver of the No. 22 Mings Products and Services Mazda/Tatuus USF-17 for Pabst Racing qualified second this morning for today’s 60-lap race at Iowa Speedway. Ming was just 0.1272 of a second off the two-lap pole time set by championship leader Oliver Askew.

Having no prior experience on ovals prior to this weekend, Ming was pleased with the result.

“Coming into the weekend, I didn’t know about ovals,” said the 20-year-old from Guyana, a small nation adjacent to Venezuela in South America. “I wouldn’t know whether I would be fast or not. After (practice), I think my team has given me a really good car for the weekend and I’m pretty comfortable right now.”

Ming paced Friday’s three-hour series test at the 0.894-mile oval and was second quick in Saturday’s practice. He said he has gained confidence with every session, but admitted that driving alone in qualifying and running with others in traffic takes separate skill sets.

“Out running by myself, I think I’ve got the line down,” Ming said. “The sun, it was a lot hotter Friday (and) the track changed quite a bit. That will be something to look for going into the race. In traffic, it will be a different experience because everyone knows driving by yourself and driving in traffic is two different things.

“The aero wash (in traffic) is a little tricky,” he added. “I’ve been trying to go inside/outside to get some air on the wing, but you still get a bit of aero wash.”

A rookie in USF2000 competition, Ming’s career highlight to date was winning the 2016-17 Formula 4 NACAM Championship that competes on tracks in Mexico as well as the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The season ended three weeks ago, with Ming totaling eight race wins. He currently lies fifth in the USF2000 championship with a best finish of second at Indianapolis and Road America.

“We’re at the halfway point in USF and I think so far it’s been going pretty well,” Ming said. “The team has given me a pretty great car. The series has been great, everything has been pretty organized. I’d like to think I’m doing pretty well, but we still have a lot of races to go, so we’ll just have attack them one by one.”

Askew won the pole this morning with a two-lap speed of 131.683 mph in the No. 3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing Mazda for Cape Motorsports. The race begins at 2:05 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

Herta wins pole for Indy Lights race

Colton Herta set one- and two-lap tracks records in winning the pole position this morning in qualifying for this afternoon’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race at Iowa Speedway. Herta, driver of the No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda/Dallara IL-15 for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, posted a two-lap average speed of 163.670 mph (39.3279 seconds) on the 0.894-mile oval.

Herta, the Indy Lights rookie and son of former Indy car driver Bryan Herta, also established the one-lap record with his first lap of 163.835 mph (19.6441 seconds). The previous one- and two-lap records were set by current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Max Chilton in 2015.

“It’s awesome,” Herta said. “I didn’t know we had the track record, that’s super cool. I knew it was a good lap and to see it hang in there is awesome.”

Fourteen cars will take the Indy Lights green flag at 3 p.m. ET today (live stream on RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Points leader Kyle Kaiser starts third for Juncos Racing.


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