MRTI: Seven races on tap for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000 in critical weekend

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – The single busiest weekend of the year for the Mazda Road to Indy is on tap this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Here’s quick digests of what to expect in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda seven-pack of races.

Indy Lights and Pro Mazda have two races apiece and USF2000 three at Mid-Ohio. This is the penultimate round of the season for the Mazda Road to Indy before the season finale weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September.

INDY LIGHTS

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Photo: Indy Lights

The Milwaukee and Iowa oval races interrupted the formbook in the Indy Lights season, where two first-time winners emerged in the form of Felix Serralles and Max Chilton, respectively. Meanwhile, the only driver who scored podiums in both races was RC Enerson, rebounding quite nicely after his horrific Toronto accident in June.

Oddly that’s all taken the onus off the championship battle between Jack Harvey, Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones. Harvey has survived more than strived in the last two weekends, but fourth and fifth to Pigot’s seventh and eighth and Jones’ eighth and second have seen the Englishman extend his points lead to 18 points.

It seems there’s no better place for Harvey (pictured above) to come than the track where he utterly whooped the field last year, Mid-Ohio. Schmidt Peterson’s Harvey scored his first two career wins at Mid-Ohio last year.

Yet Pigot has been the man to beat on road and street courses this season. The young American, the Rising Star Racing-backed driver for Juncos Racing, has two road course weekend sweeps at Barber and Toronto, although he endured a nightmare weekend in the two races at the Indianapolis GP.

It’s Jones, of Carlin, who needs the biggest weekend. Jones has two podiums and five top-fives in the last six road and street course events, but no wins since banking the first three in a row to open the 2015 season.

The championship battle (Harvey 278, Pigot 260, Jones 258) is the primary storyline this weekend but there are others. Enerson has been desperately close to his first career win and sits a solid fourth in points. Meanwhile just five points separate fifth-placed Serralles from ninth-placed Scott Anderson. Indy GP race two winner Sean Rayhall also makes a welcome return with 8Star Motorsports after missing the races since the Freedom 100.

PRO MAZDA

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Tan leading in Pro Mazda. Photo: IMS Photography, LLC

If the Pro Mazda championship was all about ovals, it would be Weiron Tan’s world and the rest of the field would just be living in it.

It isn’t, of course, and Andretti Autosport’s Tan needs another big weekend to close a 27-point gap to Team Pelfrey’s Santiago Urrutia, who has been the most consistent if not the outright fastest driver in 2015.

Urrutia hasn’t podiumed since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend but with finishes of seventh, fourth and fifth in the last three races, he’s also limited mistakes.

This brings us then to a driver who is in desperate need of a good weekend, another of the Rising Star Racing drivers in Neil Alberico of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Finishes of 14th, 17th and seventh in the last three races have knocked the likeable Californian back to third in points, 33 back of Urrutia.

Arguably the driver to watch this weekend is Canadian Garett Grist, who has won each of the last two years for Andretti Autosport in USF2000 and Pro Mazda. Grist seeks his second win of 2015 with Juncos Racing this weekend.

The other major storyline is the return of JDC Motorsports’ Michael Johnson, following his injuries sustained at St. Petersburg.

USF2000

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Jamin up front. Photo: IMS Photography, LLC

With four wins and two runner-up finishes in the last six races, Frenchman Nico Jamin has placed a firm grasp on the USF2000 championship lead.

It isn’t out of the realm for title rivals Jake Eidson (17 back) and Aaron Telitz (57 back), but these two will need big results in the three USF2000 races at Mid-Ohio this weekend in order to have realistic championship hopes at Mazda Raceway.

Besides the proverbial top three, watch for Australian rookie Anthony Martin and Canadian rookie Parker Thompson, each in search of their first win as they complete the top five in points. There are also four new drivers on the entry list, to create a bumper grid of 18 cars.

Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win

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Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.

After scoring his first career victory Sept. 8 at RedBud, Cianciarulo made it two consecutive victories on his Monster Energy Kawasaki. He won the first moto by 1.7 seconds over Blake Baggett and the second moto by 2.7 seconds over Baggett.

“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”

With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.

In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).

Dylan Ferrandis swept both motos for his second win of the season in the 250 class (Align Media).

Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.

“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”

NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.


RESULTS

Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
  2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
  3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
  4. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
  5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
  6. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
  7. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
  8. Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
  9. Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
  10. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)

450 Class Championship Standings

  1. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
  2. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
  3. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
  4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
  5. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
  6. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
  7. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
  8. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
  9. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
  10. Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
  3. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
  4. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
  5. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)
  6. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (2-11)
  7. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (7-5)
  8. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Honda (12-8)
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki (11-9)
  10. Derek Drake, San Luis Obispo, Calif., KTM (8-12)

250 Class Championship Standings

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 257
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 254
  3. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 202
  4. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 194
  5. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha – 186
  6. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 164
  7. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 162
  8. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki – 140
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki – 123
  10. Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM – 114
Adam Cianciarulo won the holeshot in both motos at Spring Creek (Align Media).