MRTI Saturday Notebook: IMS Road Course

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Indy Lights: Kyle Kaiser Rolls to Victory in Race 2, Takes Points Lead

Kyle Kaiser took his first victory of the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. Kaiser led every lap on his way to victory, leading second-place Santi Urrutia by more than six seconds.”It was unreal. I started getting emotional when the team told me there were five laps to go, thinking about the podium. I had to really keep myself in check until the checkered flag, and then I was just euphoric,” said a jubilant Kaiser afterward.

Despite leading every lap, he explained that the win had its share of challenges, especially at the start. “It is super hard to start from the pole here,” he explained. “I had to get a good jump and try to keep Colton behind me going into Turn One – especially because we were so close in the points. From then on, it was a matter of keeping Santi behind me, which was hard because he had a really good car.”

Matheus Leist rounded out the podium after a fierce battle with teammate Neil Alberico in the final laps. Alberico came out of the battle wounded after contact between the two damaged his front wing with two laps remaining. He nursed the car home to finish sixth.

Meanwhile, Colton Herta endured more troubles n Race 2 after electrical issues surfaced about halfway through. He and the Andretti-Steinbrenner team were eventually able to fix the issues after the team advised Herta to recycle the system, however the damage was already done. He soldiered home in tenth.

Results are below. The Indy Lights race will air on NBCSN at 5/21 at 2:00 a.m. ET.

 

Pro Mazda: Franzoni the New Points Leader After a Weekend Sweep

Pro Mazda Race 2 podium. Victor Franzoni (middle), TJ Fischer (left), and Carlos Cunha (right)

Victor Franzoni completed a weekend sweep of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires after he ran away with Race 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The Brazilian driver rocketed away after starting on pole and was never challenged, eventually winning by more than 12 seconds over second place TJ Fischer.

Fischer, to his credit, completed a strong weekend where he finished on the podium in both races (third in Race 1, and second in Race 2). Carlos Cunha rounded out the Race 2 podium.

“It was a perfect weekend,” said an elated Franzoni. “I knew the Juncos team would have a really good setup here so it was important for us to be ready – and it was the best car ever. It was a machine; it was so easy to drive. All I had to do was focus and drive fast.”

The last time Franzoni swept a weekend like this came last year in his USF2000 campaign last year. “This happened at the end of last year in USF2000 where I had a perfect weekend, and now to get it here means so much,” Franzoni added. “I so appreciate the opportunity Juncos has given me, and the car they gave me today. I hope we can keep this going.”

Franzoni now leads Anthony Martin by six points. Race 2 results are below.

 

USF2000: Five in a Row for Askew

Oliver Askew continued his dominant run by winning Race 2, his fifth win in succession in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. It is his second consecutive weekend sweep (he won both races at Barber Motorsports Park), and Askew ran unchallenged at the head of the field.

“Our pace here is fantastic; the Cape team gave me a great car,” Askew said of the team’s performance. “I tried not to look in my mirrors, especially at the start – I just went to Turn One as deep as I could and tried not to get hit from behind, because that’s the only way that I could get passed. But like I said yesterday, it’s surreal. I’m just living in the present and doing my job the best that I can, and that’s working out

Oliver Askew had his second weekend sweep in a row. Photo: IndyCar

Behind Askew, however, chaos reigned. The initial start saw a pileup that collected Dev Gore, Colin Kaminsky, Ricky Donison, Calvin Ming, and Bruna Tomaselli (Gore and Kaminsky dropped out after suffering too much damage to continue). Their incident brought out a full course caution barely two turns into the race.

When racing resumed, Rinus Van Kalmthout fended off a challenge from Kaylen Frederick for second (Van Kalmthout had passed Frederick during the brief green flag period before the early caution). Frederick endured a difficult race that saw him fall back as far as seventh before he was able to work his way back forward.

The finish took a surprising turn when Callan O’Keefe stalled in turn seven in the final minutes, forcing a second full-course caution.

The race restarted for one final green flag lap, and while Askew and Van Kalmthout scooted away, Dakota Dickerson and Robert Megennis tangled in a battle for third and went off course exiting turn two. That allowed Frederick, running fifth at the time, back up to third. He hung on from there to claim the final spot on the podium behind Askew and Van Kalmthout.

Results are below.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)