MRTI: Jamin, Franzoni, Urrutia win USF2000, Pro Mazda in NOLA


Both the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series returned to NOLA Motorsports Park, site of three of each of their races in the Cooper Tires Winterfest in February.

USF2000 led the way with two races, one on Saturday in dry conditions and one early Sunday in the wet. Pro Mazda only had one race, which was pushed back from Saturday to Sunday following weather delays, with the second race canceled and due to be made up at another round this season.

In the pair of USF2000 races, Nico Jamin and Victor Franzoni split the victories. Jamin won Saturday’s Round 3, his first win in the series for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Teammate Aaron Telitz was second for the third straight race, with Jake Eidson (Pabst Racing), the double St. Petersburg winner, in third.

Sunday’s Round 4 saw Telitz dominating early before falling victim to an odd – and rare – halfshaft break on an upshift. The retirement cost him a shot at his first win of the year and promoted Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport) to his first win of the year. Franzoni also won one of the three Winterfest races, with Eidson scoring the other two. Franzoni won from Jamin and Eidson on Sunday.

Eidson currently leads Jamin, 108-101, heading into Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks.

Pro Mazda saw Uruguayan rookie Santiago Urrutia, an unheralded F3/GP3 veteran, score his first win of the season. Urrutia pounced on pole-sitting Malaysian Weiron Tan on the first lap, then controlled the pace to score an accomplished victory for Team Pelfrey.

Pelfrey’s Winterfest driver, Jack Aitken, won two of the three Pro Mazda races here in Winterfest, with Tan winning the other race. Tan (Andretti Autosport) and Timothe Buret (Juncos Racing) completed the podium in what was the only Pro Mazda race of the weekend.

Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) still holds the points lead despite a sixth-place finish; the St. Petersburg double winner is up by four points, 79-75, over Urrutia heading to Barber.

RESULTS: Pro Mazda

Will Power shows Flavor Flav what time it is in IndyCar: ‘This is the highlight of the weekend’

Will Power Flavor Flav
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – When Flavor Flav unexpectedly showed up in Team Penske’s pits for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend, Will Power knew what time it was.

So the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion dropped it on the man who made oversized clocks as fashion accessories famous.

And he used the kind of wordplay that was the pride of Public Enemy (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group led by Chuck D with Flavor Flav as loyal sidekick).

“I said to Flavor Flav, ‘You know, people today are going to have to ‘Fight the Power,’ ” Power said with a broad smirk, referencing one of Public Enemy’s most memorable and strident anthems. “And it was true! They had to ‘Fight the Power.’ ”

With a second place in Detroit, the No. 12 Dallara-Chevy driver earned his best finish since last September and impressed a musical hero who apparently attended his first IndyCar race this weekend and promptly fell in love with the sport.

After being interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee during the Peacock qualifying broadcast Saturday, Flavor Flav made the rounds. He met with Roger Penske in Team Penske’s at-track headquarters and also ran into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was at the track Saturday).

“I have a great picture of Roger Penske, the governor and Flavor Flav,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. “It’s a great one. I’ll cherish that one for a long time. It’s pretty precious.”

With the Detroit GP holding nightly free concerts in Hart Plaza inside the race course, Flav made an impromptu appearance to freestyle at Big Boi’s show Friday before also showing up during Steve Aoki’s Saturday night set.

He then rode with Power and his wife, Liz, in a pickup truck around the 1.645-mile street course during driver introductions Sunday morning.

Flav was wearing a red No. 12 Will Power shirt that the defending series champion believes was purchased at a track merchandise trailer.

“That is the highlight of the weekend,” he said. “Flavor Flav was wearing my shirt, man.”

It was a dream come true for the two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner. Power, 42, grew up listening to Public Enemy with his buddies in Toowoomba, Australia, and they went nuts when he posted photos with Flavor Flav to his personal Facebook page.

“My friends are like, ‘Dude, you should just quit racing now. You have made it to the top,’ ” Power said. “We all listened to Public Enemy, and they would never believe that I actually would be hanging out with Flavor Flav. That is nuts. I’ll have to go Vegas to hang out with him. Maybe we’ll do a rap together.”

“Yeeaaah, boy!” third-place finisher Felix Rosenqvist, who apparently gave “It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” a few spins while growing up in Sweden, chimed in during the postrace news conference.

The only disappointment for Power was coming up 1.1843 seconds short of beating Alex Palou.

Flav had promised to celebrate on the podium if Power had won the race.

“He is the most positive dude you will ever meet,” Power said. “Pretty cool experience. Pretty cool to put it on your personal Facebook.

“All your friends that you went to school with, they’re like, ‘Man this dude is big-time, he’s hanging out with Flavor Flav. ‘I sat next to Ice-T at dinner. I have also had dinner with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I wish I got videos of those ones as well so I could put it on the personal Facebook

“No one cares about race cars or that I won the Indy 500. It’s like, ‘You had dinner with Slash? You know Flavor Flav?’ Yeah!”

Power already has in mind some future musical guests he’d like to meet, starting with another of Detroit’s own.

“I’m more of a ’90s rap guy, but if I met Eminem, that would also be epic,” Power said. “Ice Cube’s the one, man. If I could meet Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg in Long Beach. Why doesn’t someone bring them to Long Beach? Maybe they should have an Ice Cube day. That would be dope.”