Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI Saturday Notebook: IMS Road Course

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Indy Lights: Kyle Kaiser Rolls to Victory in Race 2, Takes Points Lead

Kyle Kaiser took his first victory of the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. Kaiser led every lap on his way to victory, leading second-place Santi Urrutia by more than six seconds.”It was unreal. I started getting emotional when the team told me there were five laps to go, thinking about the podium. I had to really keep myself in check until the checkered flag, and then I was just euphoric,” said a jubilant Kaiser afterward.

Despite leading every lap, he explained that the win had its share of challenges, especially at the start. “It is super hard to start from the pole here,” he explained. “I had to get a good jump and try to keep Colton behind me going into Turn One – especially because we were so close in the points. From then on, it was a matter of keeping Santi behind me, which was hard because he had a really good car.”

Matheus Leist rounded out the podium after a fierce battle with teammate Neil Alberico in the final laps. Alberico came out of the battle wounded after contact between the two damaged his front wing with two laps remaining. He nursed the car home to finish sixth.

Meanwhile, Colton Herta endured more troubles n Race 2 after electrical issues surfaced about halfway through. He and the Andretti-Steinbrenner team were eventually able to fix the issues after the team advised Herta to recycle the system, however the damage was already done. He soldiered home in tenth.

Results are below. The Indy Lights race will air on NBCSN at 5/21 at 2:00 a.m. ET.

 

Pro Mazda: Franzoni the New Points Leader After a Weekend Sweep

Pro Mazda Race 2 podium. Victor Franzoni (middle), TJ Fischer (left), and Carlos Cunha (right)

Victor Franzoni completed a weekend sweep of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires after he ran away with Race 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The Brazilian driver rocketed away after starting on pole and was never challenged, eventually winning by more than 12 seconds over second place TJ Fischer.

Fischer, to his credit, completed a strong weekend where he finished on the podium in both races (third in Race 1, and second in Race 2). Carlos Cunha rounded out the Race 2 podium.

“It was a perfect weekend,” said an elated Franzoni. “I knew the Juncos team would have a really good setup here so it was important for us to be ready – and it was the best car ever. It was a machine; it was so easy to drive. All I had to do was focus and drive fast.”

The last time Franzoni swept a weekend like this came last year in his USF2000 campaign last year. “This happened at the end of last year in USF2000 where I had a perfect weekend, and now to get it here means so much,” Franzoni added. “I so appreciate the opportunity Juncos has given me, and the car they gave me today. I hope we can keep this going.”

Franzoni now leads Anthony Martin by six points. Race 2 results are below.

 

USF2000: Five in a Row for Askew

Oliver Askew continued his dominant run by winning Race 2, his fifth win in succession in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. It is his second consecutive weekend sweep (he won both races at Barber Motorsports Park), and Askew ran unchallenged at the head of the field.

“Our pace here is fantastic; the Cape team gave me a great car,” Askew said of the team’s performance. “I tried not to look in my mirrors, especially at the start – I just went to Turn One as deep as I could and tried not to get hit from behind, because that’s the only way that I could get passed. But like I said yesterday, it’s surreal. I’m just living in the present and doing my job the best that I can, and that’s working out

Oliver Askew had his second weekend sweep in a row. Photo: IndyCar

Behind Askew, however, chaos reigned. The initial start saw a pileup that collected Dev Gore, Colin Kaminsky, Ricky Donison, Calvin Ming, and Bruna Tomaselli (Gore and Kaminsky dropped out after suffering too much damage to continue). Their incident brought out a full course caution barely two turns into the race.

When racing resumed, Rinus Van Kalmthout fended off a challenge from Kaylen Frederick for second (Van Kalmthout had passed Frederick during the brief green flag period before the early caution). Frederick endured a difficult race that saw him fall back as far as seventh before he was able to work his way back forward.

The finish took a surprising turn when Callan O’Keefe stalled in turn seven in the final minutes, forcing a second full-course caution.

The race restarted for one final green flag lap, and while Askew and Van Kalmthout scooted away, Dakota Dickerson and Robert Megennis tangled in a battle for third and went off course exiting turn two. That allowed Frederick, running fifth at the time, back up to third. He hung on from there to claim the final spot on the podium behind Askew and Van Kalmthout.

Results are below.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.

Mercedes F1 engine chief warns against underestimating Honda

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Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.

Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.

The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.

Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.

“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.

“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’

“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.

“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”

Williams happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.

Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.

Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.

While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.

“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.

“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”

Nico Rosberg visits Stanford University, considering study options

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2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is considering study options at Stanford University after visiting the college earlier this week as part of his tour around California.

Rosberg sensationally announced his retirement from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title last November, wanting to spend more time with his young family.

The German has been enjoying his retirement, recently embarking on a tour of Silicon Valley and California that saw him hold meetings with electric car giant Tesla, among other companies.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Rosberg spoke warmly about a visit to Stanford, revealing that he is considering some study options in the near future at the historic institution.

Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.

Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…