MRTI: Mid-Ohio Friday recap

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires kicked off their weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday.

And while the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed practice and qualifying for their Saturday races (Race 1 for both series), the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda completed its first race of the weekend, and crowned a champion in the process.

A recap of Friday action at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is below.

Kirkwood Clinches USF2000 Crown with Seventh Win in a Row

Kyle Kirkwood celebrates clinching the 2018 USF2000 championship. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Kyle Kirkwood entered Mid-Ohio needing to only score 34 points across the weekend’s three races – USF2000 enjoys its lone triple header of the year at Mid-Ohio – to clinch the USF2000 crown. But, that was if Kaylen Frederick, second in the championship entering the weekend, scored maximum points across the three races. Any issues for Frederick would mean that Kirkwood could wrap up the championship after Race 1.

And that’s exactly what happened on Friday. Frederick, who started second, had a collision with his Pabst Racing Services teammate Rasmus Lindh in Turn 4 – Lindh received a drive-through penalty for his role in the incident, while Frederick lost a lap trying to rejoin the field.

Up front, Kirkwood started on the pole, which netted him a point, and he seemed to be on cruise control much of the way and never faced a genuine challenge.

In the end, Kirkwood reigned supreme to take his seventh win in a row, and his eighth of the 2018 season, which was more than enough for him to clinch the USF2000 championship.

An elated Kirkwood was beside himself afterward.

“The championship hasn’t begun to sink in, I don’t even know what to think,” Kirkwood revealed post-race. “It’s very unexpected to get it this early – I’d hoped to clinch it here but I didn’t think it would be in the first race. Oliver (Askew)’s goal was to win it here last year and couldn’t, so now I’ve been able to do it! We’ve known each other for so long, so to follow up his championship last year with the eighth in a row for the Capes is a great feeling. I’m so excited to think that I’ll be carrying the Soul Red colors for Mazda next year.”

Lucas Kohl and Calvin Ming finished second and third for Pabst in Race 1, followed by Keith Donegan (BN Racing) and Julian Van der Watt (Team Pelfrey).

Full results from Race 1 are below. Race 2 rolls off at 12:35 p.m. ET on Saturday.

O’Ward, VeeKay Take Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Race 1 Poles

Indy Lights and Pro Mazda completed practice and qualifying for their opening races of the weekend on Friday, with Pato O’Ward grabbing the pole in Indy Lights while Rinus VeeKay took the pole honors in Pro Mazda – both drivers also take a valuable bonus point in their respective championship efforts.

Indy Lights sees Ohio-native Ryan Norman flank O’Ward on the front row in his best qualifying result of the year, followed by O’Ward’s title rival Colton Herta in third. Aaron Telitz, Santi Urrutia, Dalton Kellett, and Victor Franzoni round out the field.

In Pro Mazda, David Malukas will start alongside VeeKay on Row 1, while championship leader Parker Thompson starts third. Carlos Cunha and Robert Megennis complete the top five on the grid for Race 1.

Indy Lights and Pro Mazda conclude Saturday’s on-track action, with Indy Lights’ Race 1 at 3:05 p.m. ET followed by Pro Mazda Race 1 at 4:10 p.m. ET.


Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway