Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

O’Ward dominates Indy Lights Mazda Iowa 100

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Pato O’Ward completed a display of sheer dominance at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, leading all 100 laps of the Mazda Iowa 100 to take his fourth win of the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

O’Ward, who entered the weekend 17 points down to points leader Colton Herta, rocketed away when the green flag waved and was never challenged, winning by just under three seconds. O’Ward explained that starting the pole gave him a big advantage and helped him get away in the early laps.

“It’s always easier when you start from pole. You don’t get all the dirty air,” O’Ward explained. “I tried to control the pace and not push too hard and conserve the Cooper tires. This is my first time here and, unlike Colton and Santi, I didn’t have a feel for what they would be like toward the end of the race.”
O’Ward also added that controlling his pace while maintaining such a big lead was big mental challenge, similar to what he paced in Race 2 a St. Petersburg.
“It becomes a mental challenge with yourself, when you’re so far out in front. I allowed it to get to me at St. Pete and I don’t want to have that happen again. That was a tough one to swallow. I’m learning every weekend, and everything goes into the memory banks, so I can improve through the year. But a day like this is good, where I can show that I have strong pace and that I’m ready for IndyCar,” O’Ward asserted.
“It’s a long championship and this is the most intense month. I had some bad luck or didn’t capitalize over the past few races while Colton had some good runs, but one bad weekend can turn it all around.”

Behind him, Colton Herta and Santi Urrutia engaged in a race-long duel for second after Urrutia charged up to second on the first lap from his fifth starting position.

Urrutia managed to keep Herta at bay for over 90 laps, with Herta consistently trying to close and pass at every lap, but Herta was eventually able to work his way around with five laps remaining.

It meant that the Andretti stable went 1-2, with O’Ward (Andretti Autosport) and Herta (Andretti Steinbrenner Racing) finishing first and second.

Urrutia rounded out the podium in third for Belardi Auto Racing. Andretti’s Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett finished fourth and fifth, with Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni (sixth) and Belardi’s Aaron Teltiz (seventh) rounding out the field.

Results are below. (Note: the Indy Lights race will be televised at 11:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

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NBC to air more than 100 hours of IMSA racing in 2019

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Beginning January 26, 2019 with the 57th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, NBC will air more than 100 hours of exclusive coverage of the IMSA Sports Car Championship across their platforms.

NBC Sports will present 12 races across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app throughout 2019. In addition to the 24 Hours at Daytona, race highlights include the 12 Hours of Sebring from Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, on March 16; the Grand Prix of Long Beach from the Long Beach Street Circuit on April 13; and the penultimate race of the season from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, on September 15.

“We couldn’t be more excited to begin our IMSA coverage with the 57th running of the iconic Rolex 24,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN in a press release. “As the home of U.S. motorsports, we’ll showcase the uniqueness of IMSA racing to motorsports fans everywhere, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the association throughout the upcoming season.”

More than 40 hours of will be broadcast on NBCSN with live coverage of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Laguna Seca and season finale Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta showing on NBC.

MORE: IMSA Reveal 2019 schedule

Coverage of the 24 Hours of Daytona will get underway Thursday, January 24 at 2 p.m. ET with a season preview on NBCSN. That program will be followed by live coverage of qualification for the race from 3 to 5 p.m. ET as a world class group of drivers lock in their positions for the annual twice-around-the-clock endurance race.

The preview show will re-air Saturday as a lead-in to live coverage of the 24 Hours, which will kick off a 2 p.m. ET.

“As we all get ready for IMSA’s much-anticipated 50th anniversary season in 2019, our new NBC Sports media partnership promises to promote and showcase our unique premium product in revolutionary ways,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “Both IMSA and the WeatherTech Championship have been experiencing incredible momentum the last several years and this partnership should only help elevate the sport to new heights.”

NBC will be the exclusive home for IMSA beginning in 2019 as part of a six-year partnership between the two organizations.

The season concludes with live coverage of the Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 12 from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.