MRTI: Crucial final oval weekend ahead for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda at Iowa

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The Mazda Road to Indy schedule was fast and furious through the month of May, but has settled down over the summer in June and July.

This weekend though will prove crucial for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championships in their final oval events of the season at Iowa Speedway, which will both be held on Saturday. The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda returns to action at Mid-Ohio next month.

INDY LIGHTS

The Milwaukee podium of Felix Serralles, RC Enerson and Juan Piedrahita played spoiler to the three championship contenders, Jack Harvey, Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones. Harvey, Pigot and Jones were only fourth, seventh and eighth at Milwaukee. At Indianapolis, Harvey won while Pigot was ninth and Jones 10th.

Even though Harvey admitted he had a tough weekend in Milwaukee, he’s still gained nearly enough points on both drivers on ovals thus far to hold the championship lead.

In the two oval races, Harvey has 49 points while Pigot has 28 and Jones 24. Overall this year, Harvey has 261 points to Pigot’s 247 (14 back) and Jones’ 232 (29 back).

“We tested there earlier in the year and the car worked fairly well,” Harvey told MotorSportsTalk after Milwaukee. “It should be a good weekend for us. We have to will it to happen if it’s not.

“That’s the stage of the season we’re at. We have to dig deep and see where we can extend the lead in Iowa, go to Mid-Ohio and kick ass. If we win Iowa it would put us in a good position for Mid-Ohio. It’s simple but it comes down to execution, really.”

The series returns to Iowa after a one-year hiatus. Sage Karam was the most recent Indy Lights winner there in 2013, leading a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports podium sweep ahead of Gabby Chaves and Jack Hawksworth.

PRO MAZDA

Pro Mazda returns to action for the first time since Toronto last month, and for its second and last oval race after also racing at Lucas Oil Raceway in May. It also marks the series’ first trip to Iowa Speedway since 2012.

Uruguayan rookie Santiago Urrutia is still well-positioned in the championship, up 30 points on Neil Alberico, but had a DNF at Lucas Oil.

Meanwhile just 23 points separate Alberico, Timothe Buret, Weiron Tan, Garett Grist and Pato O’Ward from second to sixth. So depending on how they all do at Iowa, those positions could swing. Tan dominated at Lucas Oil, although the flat 0.686-mile oval is a different animal from the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, which is flat all the way around.