MRTI: Saturday St. Petersburg notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Saturday saw the first races of the weekend for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with all three series kicking off their 2018 seasons.

Indy Lights and USF2000 saw displays of dominance by a pair of drivers who took their first wins in both series, while Pro Mazda saw a late-race duel between two drivers expected to battle for the championship.

Reports on all three series are below.

Indy Lights: O’Ward Dominates Race 1 for First Career Indy Lights Win

Pato O’Ward celebrates his victory in Race 1 at St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward assumed the pole for Race 1 after Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz, who had been the polesitter, crashed on the final lap of qualifying for Race 2, and his No. 9 Dallara IL-15 suffered too much damage to be repaired in time for Race 1.

O’Ward took advantage of the change in fortune and rocketed into the lead off the initial start and led the entire 35-lap race on his way to his first career Indy Lights victory.

“I’m so happy for everyone who has helped me, who have believed me and helped me get here,” said an elated O’Ward. “I want people to see that if you have the right factors in the right moment, you can do it. The Andretti guys and girls gave me an awesome car, my CDX Mazda was great. I just kept it on the black stuff, didn’t tag any walls.”

O’Ward’s dominant display saw him lead Santiago Urrutia, Telitz’s teammate at Belardi, by over six seconds at the checkered flag. Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta finished in third, outdueling Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni. Team Pelfrey’s Shelby Blackstock rounded out the top five.

Results from race 1 are below. Race 2 rolls of at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, with O’Ward starting on the pole.

Pro Mazda: VeeKay Outduels Thompson for Race 1 Victory

Rinus VeeKay used a late-race pass on Parker Thompson to win race 1. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The opening race of the Pro Mazda season saw Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson and Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay engage in a thrilling late-race duel for the win

Thompson led most of the way, taking the lead off the start from polesitter and Cape Motorsports driver Oliver Askew.

Thompson then dominated the race from there until a caution flew for DEForce Racing’s James Raven, who impacted the wall between Turns 8 and 9.

The subsequent restart put second place runner VeeKay right on Thompson’s gearbox, and he was quickly able to work his around Thompson to take the lead.

VeeKay held the lead from there to win Race 1, with Thompson coming in second. VeeKay’s Juncos teammates Robert Megennis and Carlos Cunha finished third and fourth, while Oliver Askew was shuffled back to fifth at the finish.

“I knew Parker was fast and that I could not pass him in dirty air, so I knew my only chance was on the restart under braking,” VeeKay said of the late-race battle. “I set it up well and he was in the dust on the inside, and he kept it safe and let me go.”

Results from Race 1 are below. Race 2 begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, with VeeKay starting on the pole.

USF2000: Kirkwood Dominates Race 1

Kyle Kirkwood dominated USF2000 Race in St. Petersburg to take the win in his first USF2000 start. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Cape Motorsports Kyle Kirkwood immediately jumped into the lead off the start, passing DEForce Racing’s Jose Sierra on the outside in Turn 1 just after the green flag waved.

Kirkwood’s move ended up being perfectly timed as an incident behind them necessitated a full-course caution. Two of the Exclusive Autosport entries, Igor Fraga in the No. 91 and Manuel Cabrera in the No. 90 both spun simultaneously in separate incidents, with the Newman Wachs Racing No. 38 entry of Oscar Deluzuriaga also getting collected.

Fraga was fortunate to escape without damage and continued on after getting restarted, with Deluzuriaga doing the same, only suffering a broken wing. Cabrera, however, was not as fortunate and suffered too much damage to continue.

When racing resumed, Kirkwood took off and immediately began increasing the gap to Sierra, who had his hands full with BN Racing’s Jamie Caroline in an intense battle for second. Caroline ended up passing Sierra for second, but quickly found himself in the pits after wall contact damaged the right-rear of his No. 28 entry, and he was forced to retire.

Several other drivers also struggled in Race 1. Pabst Racing teammates Kaylen Frederick and Lucas Kohl, Swan-RJB Motorsports’ Alex Baron, and DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders all incurred drive-through penalties early in the race, with all four finishing outside of the top ten.

Up front, Kirkwood cruised home for the victory ahead of Sierra. Darren Keane finished third for Newman Wachs, followed by Pabst’s Calvin Ming and Team Pelfrey’s Julian Van der Watt.

“The plan I had worked out perfectly, which was to get a good jump at the start,” Kirkwood said in Victory Lane. “On the first green, I didn’t expect to fall back to the inside lane, but it worked when Kaylen fell back and created a gap. Jose got a good jump so I really needed that gap. I out-braked them going into Turn One but the yellow came out before I could get a run. On the restart, I went as soon as I was allowed, and Jose didn’t expect it so I got a good run on him going into Turn One so no one could draft up on me.”

Results are below. Race 2 begins at 5:25 p.m. on Sunday, with Alex Baron leading the field to the green.


IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

FLAVOR FLAV POWERS UP: Iconic rapper hangs out with Team Penske

Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.