Indy Lights Memorable Moments of 2017
Through the course of the 2017 season, there were plenty of moments that stood out in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition.
Before we look ahead to 2018, let’s take a glance back at the year that was.
Watkins Glen International – Three-Wide Battle
When you get wet conditions, sometimes it can make for an ugly event with spin-outs and wrecks, but other times it can turn out to be pretty spectacular. This year, it turned out the lather of the two.
On the drop of the green flag, Aaron Telitz took the top spot from the third position, using an inside under-braking maneuver to make it work. However, Colton Herta did not let him go, as he battled back through the esses uphill.
From there on, the leaders would trade positions multiple times over the course of the first few laps, before Telitz took the top spot from Herta through turn eight. From there on, he was able to edge away as Herta and Urrutia battled for second.
Gateway – Urrutia vs Piedrahita
It appeared as though Urrutia was bound for an easy victory in the late stages with an 1.5 second lead, but then the game changed when Carlin teammates Neil Alberico and Garth Rickards tangled battling for 11th. It wasn’t easy from there on out.
Following a red flag to clean up the event, only five laps remained in the race, with Piedrahita making good use of his time as he made the move around Urrutia on the restart. However, the yell0w-flag immediately came back out due to contact in the battle for third between Nico Jamin and Matheus Leist.
Back under green with three to go, Urrutia and Piedrahita remained side-by-side for two full laps before Urrutia completed the pass and sped away to a brilliant victory.
Mid-Ohio – What if?
As Kyle Kaiser looks back at his championship season, he’ll certainly be thinking of the highlights. But, after a lot of people will reflect back to Mid-Ohio and wonder what if?
In both events that weekend, the Juncos Racing driver saw nothing go his way as he finished 12th in both events. It wasn’t that he had no speed, though, as he was up to seventh by Lap 12 on Sunday, but a dive inside of Juan Piedrahita resulted in him spinning around and losing valuable track position.
The opportunity was wide-open that weekend for the title to slip out of grasp and possibly into the hands of Colton Herta, but that wasn’t meant to be, either. While he placed second on Saturday, he experienced an early spin on Lap 3 on Sunday, putting him behind the eight-ball. The incident allowed the fans to see one of the greatest drives through the field all year, though, as he drove his way up to sixth by the checkered flag.
But what if Herta had of won or placed better on Sunday? What if Kaiser hadn’t been able to turn it around the final two weekends of 2017? What if – well, you get the idea. Sometimes it’s the smallest moments you may forget that make the difference.
Honda Indy Toronto – Total Domination
If you want to bring up an ugly race for Kaiser, you should also bring up the event that made it clear to everyone that he was serious about the title this year. When the Indy Lights cars made their one trip north of the border, he certainly put on a show.
In the first event of the weekend, he led all 35 laps after starting from the pole. Simple and easy. He didn’t quite have it that way on Sunday, though, as a questionable pass had everybody looking over replays for the next couple of days.
Going into the first corner, Kyle Kaiser dived left underneath Santiago Urrutia for the second position, while Nico Jamin went to the right. Now three-wide in one of the tightest corners of the circuit, Jamin made slight contact with the outside wall, bottling up the field behind them. As a result, Shelby Blackstock was left nowhere to go as he drove over Jamin’s rear tire, followed by Neil Alberico catching a good piece of the action.
While that eliminated some of his competitors, Kaiser ran second throughout the event until Colton Herta experienced a mechanical problem on Lap 25. Kaiser inherited the lead and drove away from the field en route to the checkered flag.
Iowa – Leist’s Domination
Matheus Leist is set to make the move up to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018, but he made sure to leave his mark in Indy Lights first. He won three events in his rookie campaign, including the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The win that everybody has talked about since, though, was his domination at Iowa Speedway.
He did not have the best starting position, qualifying 10th, and managed to build a gap of 2.93 seconds ahead of Santiago Urrutia by the time the checkered flag flew. The gap could have been larger, but Leist elected to back his lap times down once he got the lead to conserve the tires.
Photos Courtesy of Mazda Road to Indy
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