MRTI: Road America digest

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The weekend at Road America was always going to be an emotional one for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

The passing of former Juncos Racing driver Jeff Green, a competitor in last year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, had a drastic impact on the entire Road to Indy community, and everyone was sure to be pay their respects during the weekend.

And while circumstances like this are always difficult, all the tributes were very appropriate, heartfelt, and beautifully done.

Of note: teams ran with special decals honoring Jeff, as Juncos and Team Pelfrey illustrated below:

And the pace lap ahead of Saturday’s Pro Mazda race was especially touching – former Juncos driver Peter Dempsey, who worked with 2017 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kaiser last year, piloted Green’s No. 60 machine, while Victor Franzoni, last year’s Pro Mazda champion, was right alongside in his No. 23 Indy Lights IL-15.

Franzoni expressed a great deal of gratitude for the tributes to Green, who became a close friend of his last year. He also highlighted the impact Green had on his career.

“I would like to thank everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy for what they’re doing for Jeff, and for me and my team this weekend,” Franzoni expressed. “Jeff was an amazing guy and a huge friend. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been in Pro Mazda last year and I wouldn’t be in Indy Lights now. I wouldn’t have any testing this year, I would just be racing. He helped me so much last year – he wanted to test, but in the end, I ended up driving even more than he did. He gave me his engine at Mid-Ohio when I had problems. He did everything for me to win and it’s so sad that we lost him.”

All three MRTI series were in action at Road America, completing their fourth (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Pro Mazda) and third (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) double headers of the year.

A look at storylines to emerge from all three series is below.

Indy Lights

Victor Franzoni and Juncos Racing celebrate winning Race 2 at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • While we’re not supposed to “cheer” for anyone, it’s hard not to feel good for VIctor Franzoni, who won Race 2 at Road America on Sunday. It’s been a very difficult week for Franzoni as he grappled with the passing of Jeff Green, and it was only fitting that, on a weekend when the entire MRTI community honored the late Green, Franzoni picked up his first Indy Lights win.
  • Colton Herta enjoyed a strong weekend, winning Race 1 on Saturday – it was also his fourth win in a row in 2018 – and finishing second in Race 2 on Sunday. It meant that he increased his points lead over Pato O’Ward to 17 points. It remains anything but comfortable, but Herta continues a very strong and consistent season that has him in great position to challenge for a title.
  • Santi Urrutia, meanwhile, had a difficult weekend, finishing fourth in Race 1 and falling to seventh in Race 2 after a late dive for the lead inside O’Ward resulted in contact and damage to the front wing and suspension of Urrutia’s car. It leaves him 44 points out of the lead in third, but he is now entering the part of the season when he typically picks up steam. Five of Urrutia’s seven wins in his Indy Lights career have come in the second half of the season, so he could go on a charge in the coming races. And he’ll need one to get back into title contention.
  • Aaron Telitz enjoyed a strong Race 2, finishing third at his home track. The 2018 season has been a struggle for Telitz, who sits fifth in the standings, 85 points behind Herta. A title seems out of reach at this point, but a podium in his home race could give him some much needed momentum going forward.

Pro Mazda

David Malukas celebrates winning Race 2 and completing a weekend sweep at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • David Malukas has been knocking on the door all year long. A pole winner in USF2000 last year, he has had two podiums in 2018 (second in St. Petersburg Race 2, and third in race 1 at Barber Motorsports park), but has demonstrated much more speed than his results have shown, as he has been up with the leaders in nearly every race this year. A clean sweep of the weekend – he won both poles and both races – is a huge confidence builder for the 16-year-old from Chicago. At 58 points back of leader Parker Thompson, he may be too far back to make a title run, but he could be a big factor in the second half of the year.
  • Speaking of Thompson, the saying goes that you win championships on your bad weekends. Well, in comparison to previous ones, this was a “bad” weekend for Thompson – he fell back to sixth in Race 1 after starting second, and was as far back as 12th in Race 2 after contact with Raul Guzman, in his Pro Mazda debut with RP Motorsport Racing. Yet, in both races, he charged all the way back to finish fourth in each one. In the end, it means he actually extended his championship lead to 46 points over Rinus VeeKay, who jumped ahead of his Juncos Racing teammate Carlos Cunha. Thompson remains the man to beat in Pro Mazda.


Kyle Kirkwood swept the USF2000 weekend at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Kyle Kirkwood has gone from the man to beat in USF2000 to, barring unforeseen circumstances, its likely champion at this point. After sweeping both races, bringing his win total to five in 2018, Kirkwood leads Alex Baron by an astounding 94 points. Anything can happen in the second half of the year, but it would take something truly monumental for anyone to catch Kirkwood at this point.
  • Meanwhile, Baron’s hold on second place is now in jeopardy, as Kaylen Frederick has three straight second place finishes and is within 11 points of Baron. And Igor Fraga and Jose Sierra sit fourth and fifth, 17 and 20 points behind Baron. They may not catch Kirkwood, but their battle for second could get intense in the second half of the year.

Indy Lights is next in action at Iowa Speedway (July 7-8), while Pro Mazda and USF2000 are off until Toronto (July 13-15).


Saturday’s Motocross Round 3 at Thunder Valley: How to watch, start times, schedules, streams

Watch Motocross Thunder Valley
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The Pro Motocross series heads to Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado for the 19th consecutive year with no active winners in the 450 division but with plenty of storylines to watch.

Jett Lawrence has set a blistering pace in the first two rounds of the season by winning all four motos and as the most recent winner in the 250 class on this track, Thunder Valley has been incredibly kind. In fact, this week’s Hangtown by the numbers points out this is his fifth-best track.

Chase Sexton will sit out another round as he battles a concussion and illness, which gives Cooper Webb an opportunity to grab the No. 1 seed in the SuperMotocross World Championship that debuts this September. Last week, Webb made up 40 of the 68 points needed for the top spot after missing two rounds at the end of the Supercross season with a head injury suffered at Nashville.

JETTING TO THE LEAD: Jett Lawrence wins second Pro Motocross race in second try

The 250 class continues to be dominated by Hunter Lawrence. He has swept the podium in moto finishes and won both overall races of the season. Last year, he was second in the 250 Motocross race at Thunder Valley and will be a fun rider to watch.

Here are the pertinent details for watching Round 3 of the 2023 Motocross season at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado:

(All times are ET)

BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE: TV coverage of Round 3 will begin Saturday at 12 p.m. ET streaming on Peacock with an encore presentation Monday at 2 a.m. ET on CNBC. The Race Day Live show (including practice) will begin on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET Saturday.

NBC Sports will have exclusive live coverage of races, qualifiers and heats for the record 31 events in SuperMotocross. The main events will be presented on Peacock, NBC, USA Network, CNBC, and NBC Sports digital platforms.

Peacock will become the home of the SuperMotocross World Championship series in 2023 with live coverage of all races, qualifying, and heats from January to October. There will be 23 races livestreamed exclusively on Peacock, including a SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff event. The platform also will provide on-demand replays of every race. Click here for the full schedule.


Track Map

ENTRY LISTS: 450 division l 250 division

EVENT SCHEDULE (all times ET): 

Here are the start times for Saturday’s Motocross Round 3 at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado, according to the Monster Energy Supercross schedule from the AMA:

9:15 a.m.: Riders Meeting at AMA Semi
9:20 a.m.: Chapel Service at AMA Semi
10:00 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
10:20 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
10:50 a.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
11:10 a.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes (1 Lap Free)
11:40 a.m.: 250 Class Grp B Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
11:45 a.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes – Timed
12:05 p.m.: 250 Class Grp A Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
12:10 p.m.: 250 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes – Timed
12:30 p.m.: 450 Class Grp A Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
12:35 p.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp A- 15 minutes – Timed
12:55 p.m.: 450 Class Grp B Start Practice (Off Gate) 5 minutes
1:00 p.m.: 450 Class Practice Grp B- 15 minutes – Timed
1:45 p.m.: 250 Consolation Race
2:00 p.m.: 450 Consolation Race
3:00 p.m. 250 Class Sight Lap
3:10 p.m.: 250 Class Moto #1
4:00 p.m.: 450 Class Sight Lap
4:10 p.m.: 450 Class Moto #1
4:50 p.m.: Halftime
5:15 p.m.: 250 Class Sight Lap
5:23 p.m.: 250 Class Moto #2
6:00 p.m.: 250 Winners Circle
6:16 p.m.: 450 Class Sight Lap
6:24 p.m.: 450 Class Moto #2

MOTOCROSS 2023 STANDINGS: 450 points standings | 250 points standings


ROUND 1: Jett Lawrence wins in first 450 start at Pala
ROUND 2: Jett Lawrence remains perfect at Hangtown


ROUND 1: Eli Tomac opens title defense with victory
ROUND 2: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael on Supercross wins list
ROUND 3: Eli Tomac holds off Cooper Webb again
ROUND 4: Chase Sexton wins Anaheim Triple Crown
ROUND 5: Eli Tomac leads wire to wire in Houston
ROUND 6: Cooper Webb breaks through in Tampa
ROUND 7: Cooper Webb wins again in Arlington
ROUND 8: Eli Tomac wins Daytona for the seventh time
ROUND 9: Ken Roczen scores first victory since 2022
ROUND 10: Chase Sexton inherits Detroit victory but docked points
ROUND 11: Eli Tomac wins in Seattle, ties Cooper Webb for points lead
ROUND 12: Eli Tomac earns 51st career victory to break tie with James Stewart
ROUND 13: Chase Sexton dominates Atlanta to continue surge
ROUND 14: Justin Barcia triumphs in the New Jersey mud
ROUND 15: Chase Sexton wins as Cooper Webb is injured
ROUND 16: Eli Tomac sidelined by injury as Sexton wins
ROUND 17: Chase Sexton caps off championship with finale win


Thunder Valley by the numbers
Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross
Jeremy Martin injury update
Power Rankings after Hangtown
Results and points after Hangtown
Jett Lawrence wins second consecutive at Hangtown
Enzo Lopes re-signs with ClubMX

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