Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Urrutia wins Gateway as Kaiser all but seals Indy Lights title

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MADISON, Ill. – Santiago Urrutia did all he could to keep the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title fight alive with his second win of the season, but Kyle Kaiser has all but cinched the title with one race remaining following a wild 75-lap affair at Gateway Motorsports Park.

For the young American, with a revised 31-point lead unofficially over Urrutia, merely starting at Watkins Glen next week will ensure he wins the title and the $1 million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship that comes with it.

Kaiser entered the weekend with a 42-point lead and only needed a 34-point margin to ensure he had the title clinched before going to the season finale at Watkins Glen International.

It looked early on in the 75-lap race that Kaiser would be able to pull it off outright, but a strong start quickly faded as the race went on.

After shooting up to third on the initial start from fifth on the grid, Kaiser delivered his statement of intent to wrap the title on Saturday night by making a move on Urrutia for second place on Lap 9, going to the outside of his closest title rival for the position into Turn 1 in an authoritative move.

Urrutia got Kaiser back five laps later on the inside of Turn 1, but with Kaiser not needing to fight it to ensure he had enough of a points gap to clinch at that moment, he kept the door open wide enough for Urrutia to come through.

Up front, Urrutia was left to focus on catching surprise polesitter Juan Piedrahita of Team Pelfrey for the lead and subsequent win of the race.

Kaiser ran in third place with the best battle on the road behind him in the form of Andretti Autosport’s Nico Jamin and Carlin’s Matheus Leist close for fourth.

On Lap 43, Urrutia, having closed the gap significantly on Piedrahita, powered past for the lead into Turn 1. This pass meant Urrutia was within 34 points of Kaiser, who was running in third.

Meanwhile Kaiser fell back into the clutches of Jamin and Leist, which had championship implications in terms of whether Kaiser would have enough points to win the title tonight.

Jamin was by Kaiser for third by Lap 49, and then Leist was by shortly thereafter. Zachary Claman De Melo soon closed in and made a move during the final 20 laps for fifth, and Kaiser then had to hold off Colton Herta for sixth.

On Lap 62 there was a heavy three-car accident that occurred. Contact occurred between Chad Boat, the series debutante, and Neil Alberico entering Turns 1 and 2 as Alberico attempted to lap Boat, and Garth Rickards also got caught up in it. That took out two of the three Carlin cars (Alberico and Rickards), with Boat the third Belardi car (along with Aaron Telitz and Shelby Blackstock) to be involved in an incident during the race.

The race was red flagged as a heavy amount of debris littered the track.

Following the restart, a chaotic battle for the lead occurred between Piedrahita and Urrutia, with Piedrahita briefly getting the advantage on the restart to take lead before another quick yellow was flown for a spinning Nico Jamin.

Jamin’s spin moved Kaiser up a position, again making it appear like he may clinch the championship outright. However, a restart with three laps remaining saw Urrutia finally edge passed Piedrahita, the two going side-by-side for a full lap before Urrutia cleared him for the lead with two laps left. Urrutia was able to hang on from there to take the win.

Colton Herta meanwhile moved up to third while Kaiser ended up fourth, with Nicolas Dapero completing the top five.

More to follow, unofficial results are below.

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”