MONTEREY, Calif. – A two-hour delay only served to delay the drama for the second of three races in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championship weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Nicolas Dapero of Juncos Racing captured his first career win, the teenaged Argentine doing an excellent job to keep his nose clean, then defend from teammate Will Owen to put Ricardo Juncos’ team on the top step of the podium for the first time in 2016. It also extends Juncos’ win streak to eight years in a row since the team debuted in 2009.
Meanwhile the story of the day in the 30-minute race was the championship battle between Team Pelfrey teammates Aaron Telitz and Pato O’Ward, with a collision between the two on the first lap drastically altering the battle.
From pole, Telitz saw his eight-point lead (371-363) grow to nine at the start of the race.
But O’Ward, who had a run around the outside of him through Turn 2, got contacted by Telitz and went over his car, which damaged his left rear suspension and resigned him to the pits.
For the contact, Telitz was assessed a drive-through penalty, and dropped from the lead down to 11th place.
However, Telitz would recover back to fifth place, following a Corkscrew collision between the third member of Team Pelfrey, TJ Fischer, and the third member at Juncos, Jake Parsons, on Lap 12 when battling over second place.
Fischer ran off course through the corner apex, while Parsons attempted to pass around the outside before making contact.
It brought Owen up to second and Nico Jamin of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing up to third.
Telitz had carved through slower cars driven by Kory Enders, Bobby Eberle and Daniel Swanbeck, the last of whom proved the most difficult to get past, to get up to eighth place before the yellow.
Once Parsons and Fischer were out of the way, Telitz made one final move of Moises de la Vara to get from sixth to fifth, but was unable to catch Joseph Burton-Harris for fourth.
With this result, Telitz unofficially has a 11-point lead (389-378), with O’Ward also gaining two points after his team repaired his car and got him back out to 10th place.
Owing to the morning delay for the schedule, the third and final race of the weekend is set to take place at 3:35 p.m. PDT and local time. Telitz will again have the pole position.