LEXINGTON, Ohio – In a hectic Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race today, a pair of drivers who have dominated Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course forged a superb battle for the win, with Andretti Autosport’s Nico Jamin fending off Santi Urrutia of Belardi Auto Racing to score the win in Race 2 of the weekend.
“I screamed on the radio (because) I was so happy,” said Jamin, who has now won six times in seven Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires races at Mid-Ohio over the past three seasons. “The whole (No.) 27 team has been struggling, so to be first and third this weekend and coming back a bit in the championship feels really good.”
Jamin swept three Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races at Mid-Ohio in 2015 and two Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires battles in 2016. He becomes the second driver to win on every MRTI level at one track, a feat Sage Karam accomplished at Iowa Speedway.
Jamin started third behind Urrutia – who won Saturday’s Indy Lights race – and Andretti teammate Colton Herta, who started from pole. After passing both drivers on the opening lap, Herta and Jamin traded the lead on Lap 2 before Herta spun exiting Turn 9 on Lap 3. Avoiding his spinning teammate, Jamin led the remainder of the 38-lap race.
“I knew I had to make it happen at the start, so my plan was to be in the lead after Turn 4,” Jamin revealed. “I made a great start, right on Colton’s gearbox, and was able to get by. He used his push-to-pass to get back by on the next lap and I thought, ‘This is going to be a fun race’ because I thought we’d be going after each other all race long.
“He made a mistake and I took the lead, but I knew it would be a long race with Santi pushing me like crazy. We raced hard but clean, so congrats to them.”
Urrutia pieced together a late rally to put the pressure on Jamin, but the 2015 USF2000 champion held firm, claiming victory by 0.5026 of a second. Urrutia has now finished on the podium in four of the last five races and is tied with Herta for second in points.
Herta recovered from his spin to salvage sixth place, while championship leader Kyle Kaiser suffered his second 12th-place finish of the weekend. Fortunately for Kaiser, most of the other championship contenders failed to capitalize and the Californian still has a 42-point lead with two races remaining in the season.
Indy Lights returns to action Aug. 26 at Gateway Motorsports Park for the penultimate race in the series’ first visit to the 1.25-mile oval since 2003.
Martin dominates final Pro Mazda race to re-claim championship lead
A day after Anthony Martin claimed he was “taken out” of contention by a fellow competitor, the Australian stormed to a dominating win in Race 3 of the Mid-Ohio weekend of the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. Martin took the checkered flag nearly 14 seconds ahead of championship rival Victor Franzoni.
The win provisionally elevates Martin, who scored a maximum 33 points with the win, back into the championship lead by four points over Juncos Racing’s Franzoni. However, today’s results remain unofficial until an evaluation is completed on the cars of Martin, Franzoni and Team Pelfrey’s TJ Fischer, which were impounded following the race for further inspection.
Should the results stand, it is Martin’s fifth win in nine races this season for Cape Motorsports.
“The Cape Motorsports guys gave me an awesome car,” said a jubilant Martin. “It was so fast, they were telling me to slow down. It just kept getting faster and faster, and I was extremely comfortable in the car. I just kept doing fast lap on fast lap, and I think my fastest lap was the second-to-last lap or something. It was just extremely awesome, how today panned out. It just couldn’t have gone any better.”
Pro Mazda makes its first visit next month to Gateway Motorsports Park, where the battle will rage on between the two blossoming rivals.
“I think the oval will be really nice,” Franzoni said of the lone oval on the 2017 Pro Mazda schedule. “I really like ovals. I just drove Lucas Oil Raceway (in Clermont, Indiana), but anyway, I think I drive well on them. Juncos Racing, they’re really good on ovals, so we’ll be good, I’m sure. It’ll be fun.”