Andretti Autosport’s Dalton Kellett Claims Freedom 100 Pole
Grid is Set for Crown Jewel in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Calendar
SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Dalton Kellett has developed quite an affinity for the ovals, and especially the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After finishing third in each of his two previous starts in the biggest event of the year for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indianapolis-based Canadian this afternoon secured his first-ever Mazda Road to Indy pole position when he posted the fastest two-lap average of 195.027 mph for Andretti Autosport during qualifying for tomorrow’s Freedom 100.
Kellett, 24, who hails originally from Toronto, Ont., has worked his way steadily up the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, starting in 2012 when he entered his first season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. He secured a best-ever finish of second in a Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires event at Iowa Speedway in 2015. Kellett also finished third when the Indy Lights series visited Iowa Speedway last year.
Kellett also posted the fastest speed at 198.005 mph during a rain-affected test day on Monday, and carried that form over into today when, in warm and sunny conditions, he edged out Andretti Autosport teammate Patricio “Pato” O’Ward to the coveted pole position by a scant 0.0601 of a second over two laps of the historic 2.5-mile oval.
O’Ward, 18, from Monterrey, Mexico, will start from the outside of the front row as he bids to defend a slender one-point championship lead over Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta, who will start sixth.
Ryan Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, qualified third fastest in another Andretti Autosport Dallara-Mazda IL-15 at an average speed of 194.070 mph. Norman also established the fastest speed during two 30-minute practice sessions this morning at 197.548 mph.
Norman will be joined on Row Two of the grid by Brazilian Victor Franzoni, who carries the distinctive Mazda Soul Red colors on his Juncos Racing Dallara by virtue of winning last year’s Pro Mazda championship – the middle step on the unique Mazda Road to Indy, which offers scholarships for young drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Indianapolis 500.
Uruguayan Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, who has finished second in the Indy Lights championships in each of the past two years – and in 2017 earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award for the Freedom 100 after charging from 12th on the grid to fifth – will start fifth tomorrow for Belardi Auto Racing. He will be joined in Row Three by Herta.
Second-generation racer Davey Hamilton Jr., from Boise, Idaho, will start seventh for Team Pelfrey after posting a two-lap average of 193.302 mph. Even before the session had been completed, Hamilton was seen rushing to the infield, where a helicopter was waiting to whisk him away to Anderson, Ind., where he was due to complete another qualifying session for the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway.
Aaron Telitz, from Rice Lake, Wis., who finished second in last year’s Freedom 100, will start eighth tomorrow for Belardi Auto Racing.
The 16th Annual Freedom 100 will start at 12:30 p.m. EDT tomorrow, with live television coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at 12:10 p.m. Coverage can also be found on a series of platforms including Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV App and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku and, most recently, the Xbox One Official App as well as live streaming and live timing on promazda.com and racecontrol.indycar.com. Indy Lights is also featured on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts on Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com and roadtoindy.info.
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the Verizon IndyCar Series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor of the Americas Rallycross and short course off-road racing. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/teamcoopertire.