MRTI: Road America Friday Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Friday at Road America for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw all three series take to the 4.048-mile road course. The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed its first race of the weekend, and saw a first-time winner take the checkered flag, while the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda completed practice and qualifying – Indy Lights held Race 1 qualifying, while USF2000 held qualifying for both of its races.

A recap of Friday’s MRTI action at Road America is below.

Pro Mazda: Malukas Rolls to First Career Victory in Race 1

David Malukas celebrates winning Race 1 at Road America. Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda

BN Racing’s David Malukas had been fast throughout the first half of the 2018 season, but outside of second and third place efforts in Race 2 at St. Petersburg and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park, the 16-year-old native of Chicago didn’t quite have the results to genuinely show how fast he has been.

That all changed on Friday at Road America, as Malukas, who started on the pole, rolled to his first career victory in Pro Mazda, leading all 15 laps along the way.

“When I saw the white flag I was so happy, but I think I made every mistake on that last lap! When I made it to the checkered flag, it was such a good feeling,” said an elated Malukas.

Malukas’ triumph was also noteworthy for the BN Racing team, as teammate Toby Sowery, making his Pro Mazda debut, finished second to make it a BN 1-2.

“It was a tough race but it was a great race for BN Racing,” race winner Malukas added. “I realized it was my teammate behind me, in his first Pro Mazda race, and that was a bit of a relief. I had enough of a gap that I could judge how far back he was on each lap. But having him back there and trying to maintain that gap really helped me keep my focus.”

Harrison Scott rounded out the podium for RP Motorsport Racing, while the battle for fourth proved to be an all-out duel between title combatants Parker Thompson, Rinus VeeKay, and Carlos Cunha.

Thompson, who started second, faded to sixth off the initial start, but made a late charge to catch Cunha and VeeKay in the final laps. He got around Cunha with a handful of laps remaining, and set his eyes on VeeKay. However, Cunha was able to get back around Thompson – the Exclusive Autosport driver ran a little wide exiting Turn 5 in the final laps after trying a pass on VeeKay.

Yet, Thompson regrouped again to get back around Cunha, and made a final-lap pass of VeeKay to finish fourth, leaving the Juncos Racing duo of VeeKay and Cunha to finish fifth and sixth.

Race 1 results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 3:05 p.m. ET (2:05 p.m. local time) on Saturday.

Indy Lights: Franzoni Takes Maiden Indy Lights Pole

Victor Franzoni during practice at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Victor Franzoni and Juncos Racing took an emotional pole position for Race 1 on Friday. Not only is it the first Indy Lights pole for Franzoni, it comes as he and the team race with heavy hearts – Jeff Green, who raced with Juncos in Pro Mazda last year alongside Franzoni, passed away last weekend due to injuries sustained in a crash during a vintage race.

Franzoni, last year’s Pro Mazda champion, will be flanked on the front row by Santi Urrutia, with points leader Colton Herta qualifying third. Pato O’Ward, Aaron Telitz, Ryan Norman, and Dalton Kellett complete the field.

Results are below. Race 1 rolls off at 1:00 ET (12:00 local time).

USF2000: Lindh Sweeps Both Poles

USF2000 ran qualifying sessions for both Race 1 and Race 2 on Friday, and Rasmus Lindh swept them both to the the poles for both races.

In Race 1, Lindh will be flanked on the front row by championship leader Kyle Kirkwood. Calvin Ming, Igor Fraga, and Kaylen Frederick round out the top five. Alex Baron, the second place driver in the championship, languished in 13th.

In Race 2, Lindh starts alongside Frederick, with Lucas Kohl, Kyle Kirkwood, and Julian Van der Watt, while Baron again struggled – he’ll started Race 2 in 11th.

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Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.