Herta led Indy Lights testing. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Testing results from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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This week’s Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires Spring Training test is in the books. Here’s a look through the times across the board.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series ran on Homestead-Miami’s 1.485-mile oval on Monday and the 2.21-mile, 14-turn road course on Thursday. Meanwhile the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda ran solely on the road course both of Tuesday and Wednesday.

INDY LIGHTS

Andretti Autosport had two banner days, on both layouts.

Nico Jamin, a Pro Mazda graduate, leading the way in session 2. Note series veterans Kyle Kaiser and Juan Piedrahita did not run the oval, but both of them, plus newly confirmed Pato O’Ward, did test on the road course on Thursday.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Jamin’s teammate Colton Herta in the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing entry led the day of road course testing. It made for an impressive start for the 16-year-old, who turns 17 later this month.

“It’s the best way to finish, especially with St. Pete right around the corner,” Herta said. “It’s important that we’re on top here. We came, and we bossed it, really – the whole team has been super quick. Nico has been right there with me, one-two both days. And we were the quickest no-tow time on the oval last Monday. But today was even more important because this was on the road course, and with St. Pete next week, we set ourselves up well.”

There were 1,514 incident free laps turned on Monday while on Thursday, that number was 1,271 on the road course.

PRO MAZDA

Despite the low car count, there was still good variety atop the timesheets as all three of Team Pelfrey’s drivers – Nikita Lastochkin, Carlos Cunha and TJ Fischer – led a Tuesday session before Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin and Fischer led the Wednesday sessions. Martin, the USF2000 champion, led the combined timesheets.

USF2000

Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship driver Oliver Askew, this year’s Team USA Scholarship winner, paced all but one of the sessions in USF2000. Most others were just trying to keep pace.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
Chris Jones/IndyCar
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”