MRTI: Iowa Speedway preview

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Only one series in the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is in action at Iowa Speedway this weekend, with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires heading to the 0.875-mile bull ring for their second oval event of the year.

The first oval, the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was a slip-streaming duel that saw a record number of lead changes (20), but Sunday’s 100-lap Indy Lights affair figures to be more a tactical affair, with slip-streaming not expected to have quite the same impact as as IMS.

Still, the short oval presents no less of a challenge for the Indy Lights grid, as short ovals tend to test drivers in way that other tracks don’t.

Talking points ahead of Indy Lights’ second oval event of the year are below.

Herta, O’Ward Resume Their Championship Duel

Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward have been the championship “alpha dogs” in 2018 to this point. O’Ward won three of the first four races, while Herta then won four straight. They finished second and third in Race 2 at Road America – Victor Franzoni took the win – and Herta now leads O’Ward by 17 points.

Momentum has been the name of the game all year for these two, and Herta right now owns more of it than O’Ward. But, things can change very quickly – O’Ward found that out in Race 2 on the streets of St. Petersburg, when he overshot the entry to Turn 4 while leading and went into the runoff area. And given that they’ve been the two fastest drivers for most of the year, these two will likely lock horns again this weekend.

Urrutia Looks to Get Back Into Title Contention

Urrutia’s season has gone quiet since he won Race 2 in St. Pete. He only has two podiums (Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park and Race 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course), and his error in Race 2 at Road America saw him finish seventh and fall to 44 points behind Herta.

With his title hopes teetering, Urrutia, the Indy Lights runner-up each of the last two years, will need to get things back on track in Iowa.

And this may be a good place to do it. He finished second last year – he also infamously spun the car into victory donuts after being unaware that Matheus Leist, who was much farther ahead, was actually the race winner – and the second half of the season is when he typically gets on a hot streak.

Rest assured, though, Urrutia must start chipping away at the championship lead.

Misc

  • It was will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes for Victor Franzoni and Juncos Racing. Now race winners after triumphing in Race 2 at Road America, the dam may well be broken after the breakthrough win. At 52 points back, he may not be able to catch Herta, but the second half of the season could be a big one for Franzoni and Juncos.
  • Dalton Kellett was the pole sitter and third place finisher at the Freedom 100, and he’ll look for more of those results this weekend.
  • Aaron Teltiz scored his third podium of 2018 in race at Road America and looks for his first win of 2018 at the Iowa oval.

A weekend schedule can be viewed here. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, with the 100-lap race at 12:15 p.m. ET (11:15 a.m. local) on Sunday.

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