Kaiser ends atop Indy Lights field after practice at Watkins Glen

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Kyle Kaiser took his No. 18 Juncos Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda to the top of the timesheets in practice for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires’ Mazda Grand Prix of Watkins Glen, the second-to-last weekend in the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires.

Tire conservation was still first and foremost on the minds of most of the field of 12 in the pair of practice sessions. Santiago Urrutia, the championship leader, drove only 12 laps combined between the two practices in his No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian entry. The busiest driver was Dalton Kellett of Andretti Autosport, who did 33 laps.

Even though Urrutia only did the 12 laps, he was still just off Kaiser’s time – both set in the second practice, in hotter temperatures. Kaiser set a 1:33.4343 in the No. 18 Intervision-backed car, while Urrutia’s No. 55 Soul Red Mazda best time was 1:33.4911.

Andre Negrao, Urrutia’s SPM teammate, was third with Ed Jones fourth and Zachary Claman De Melo firth.

Urrutia, Jones, Kaiser and the remaining three mathematically eligible championship contenders, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Zach Veach, all met the media earlier in the day.

It was a pretty straightforward session but the most candid comments came from Jones, the Dubai-based Englishman and driver of the No. 11 Carlin entry with Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels on the car.

Jones noted he was almost complacent and relaxed when in the points lead, and now welcomes the opportunity to come from behind. Urrutia leads Jones by 16, 309-293, heading into this weekend’s race. Stoneman is third on 284 and the other three need a bit of help to re-enter the title picture.

Qualifying occurs tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. with the race from 1:35 p.m. ET. The race airs on Sunday on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET, as the lead-in before the Verizon IndyCar Series’ INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi.