Hunter-Reay grabs crucial Mid-Ohio pole

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Ryan Hunter-Reay missed the track record by a few thousandths of a second, but took a pivotal pole position for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

The driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport lapped the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1:05.3519 to win the Verizon P1 Award, just off the jointly shared (Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti) track record of 1:05.347. He beat three Ganassi, another Andretti and another Penske car in the Firestone Fast 6.

Hunter-Reay won the only prior permanent road course race of 2013 at Barber Motorsports Park in April. A rough three-race stretch now sees him 69 points behind series leader Helio Castroneves entering the weekend. But Hunter-Reay’s third pole of the season could not have come at a better time, and it came after a tire gamble.

“Anytime you qualify around this place in IndyCar is one of the best times you’ll have in a car,” said Hunter-Reay. “Michael made the call to (save reds). I was skeptical at first, but I kind of just wanted to plug my ears and let them make the decision. I’d go out and drive it as best I could.”

Power qualified second as he continues his search for his first win of 2013. Marco Andretti, in his first Firestone Fast 6 appearance of 2013, has his best start of the year just behind, with Scott Dixon fourth.

Dixon is surging as he seeks his fourth consecutive win of the season, his third in a row at Mid-Ohio and fifth in the last seven years at the track. He outqualified Ganassi teammates Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti on the day.

Kimball posted a nice rebound after a morning crash sent him to a backup car. It marks the first time all three Ganassi cars have been in the Fast 6 this season.

Going back to the start of qualifying, those who advanced from Group 1 in Q1 included all three Ganassi cars, Simona de Silvestro, Justin Wilson and E.J. Viso. Those from Group 2 were Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Power, Tristan Vautier, Andretti and James Jakes.

Tough luck loser from Group 2 in Q1 was Barracuda Racing’s Luca Filippi. The Italian caused a red flag and lost his two fastest laps; his best of 1:05.9847 would have put him fourth in the session, but as it is, he’ll start shotgun on the 24-car field for his IndyCar debut.

Wilson, Pagenaud, de Silvestro, Jakes, Vautier and Viso were knocked out in Q2 and take up spots P7-12 on the grid.

Power and Hunter-Reay made their fifth Firestone Fast 6 of 2013, Franchitti his fourth, Dixon his third, Kimball his second and Andretti his first.

MRTI: Saturday Barber Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their first races of the weekend on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.

Indy Lights saw a pair of teammates battle for the win, while a series veteran suffered first lap trouble for the second race in a row.

In Pro Mazda, things were much more straightforward, as a title contender ran away to a dominant win from the pole.

Reports on both series are below.

Indy Lights: O’Ward Withstands Herta Challenge for Race 1 Victory

Lap 1 told the tale for Indy Lights Race 1, as Colton Herta led from the pole, but Pato O’Ward was able to sneak by on the inside entering Turn 5.

O’Ward subsequently had to withstand a race-long challenge from Herta, who kept the gap at less than one second between the two Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers – Herta races under the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing banner – for most of the 30-lap race. But, O’Ward kept Herta at bay to take the win by one-and-a-half seconds at the checkered flag.

This is also O’Ward’s second win in three races in the 2018 season.

Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia finished third, followed by Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni, and Ryan Norman finished fifth to put three Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers in the Top 5.

Meanwhile, Belardi’s Aaron Telitz endured a second consecutive race in which he failed to complete a lap, after he was collected in a Lap 1, Turn 2 spin with Dalton Kellett. Kellett, who spun on his own, was able to continue despite the contact, but Telitz suffered damage to the right-front suspension, forcing him to retire without completing a lap for the second race in a row.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

 

Pro Mazda: Thompson Roles to Dominant Race 1 Victory

Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson dominated Race 1, leading all 25 laps from the pole on his way to victory. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Race 1 for Pro Mazda was hardly ever in doubt. Polesitter Parker Thompson, who soared to pole with a track record in qualifying, led right from the drop of the green flag to lead all 25 laps on his way to winning Race 1.

Thompson had to withstand a brief challenge from RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott on a Lap 4 restart – a caution was flown for debris on the front straightaway on Lap 2 – but Thompson immediately began gapping the field again, and the Exclusive Autosport driver won by over five seconds.

Scott came home in second, while BN Racing’s David Malukas, Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez, and Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay battled for third, with Malukas holding off Gutierrez and VeeKay to take the final spot on the podium.

Results are below. Pro Mazda Race 2 rolls off at 10:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

 

Check back later for driver quotes.

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