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MRTI Observations: Chris Griffis Memorial Test Indy Lights Day 2

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This article has been updated throughout the day following each of the four sessions, with the final update posted as of 9:25 pm EST.

With an even mix of rookies and veterans for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires portion of the Chris Griffis Memorial Test, there was intrigue surrounding whether any of the youngsters were ready for the next step. As usual, some performed well as others struggled.

Based on the action taking place so far, here are some observations, with the full speed charts at the bottom.

Jumping for Joy

CHRIS OWENS | MAZDA ROAD TO INDY

CHRIS OWENS | MAZDA ROAD TO INDY

Perhaps making a change was the perfect medicine for Nico Jamin.

Through both days of testing, Nico Jamin was fast, posting the quickest laps in each of the day’s individual charts. Combining them together, his lap from Saturday (one minute and 15.717 seconds) will go down as the fastest for the weekend.

Jamin spent last year at Andretti Autosport, placing seventh in the year-end standings with three victories. He tested both days this weekend with Belardi Auto Racing. The immediate success is no surprise, though. Jamin has experience switching teams, making the jump over to Andretti following time spent with Juncos Racing. There’s also a known fact that Belardi Auto Racing can win races, as proven clearly the past two seasons with multiple wins. In 2017, Belardi won four races en route to the team championship.

He’s Back!!

After spending time away from the Mazda Road to Indy, Pato O’Ward is back in an open-wheel car, testing with Team Pelfry. He’s also showing that he hasn’t lost any of know-how either, as he has posted the second-quickest lap on Sunday at one minute and 16.090 seconds.

O’Ward spent last season competing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) with Performance Tech Motorsports in the PC class, winning the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Prior to that, though, O’Ward placed second in the Pro Mazda standings in 2016, and ran four Indy Lights races last season with a season-best third at St. Petersburg for Team Pelfry.

Notably, O’Ward finished the weekend sitting fourth on the overall speed chart.

Still Learning….

With each session on-track, Rinus Veekay continues to get quicker and quicker.

His lap of one minute and 16.142 seconds put him third quickest in Sunday’s opening session, and fifth-quickest on the overall leaderboard.

Continuing to get quicker from round to round is the goal of testing, specifically for a rookie as they adapt to their new surroundings. Recall this is Veekay’s first Indy Lights test after placing second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda last year in his first season, with three wins and 12 podiums, driving for Pabst Racing.

Speeds Dropping Off….

With each session, generally, the speeds are supposed to get quicker as teams learn more about their set-ups and work on where they’re struggling, or slightly missing. However, that hasn’t been the case across the board on Sunday.

Starting off the day, session six and seven speeds were slower than those in five. However, the final session’s top-four – Colton Herta, Victor Franzoni, Nico Jamin and Carlos Cunha – each set their quickest Sunday time in that session. For Herta and Franzoni, it was their quickest time of the entire session.

While teams may be actually gaining on their cars, it could be a case where the weather is less favorable for quick times, depending how the temperature has changed. We may have also reached the point where teams are trying things – experimenting, and those aren’t going as well as planned.

indy lights chris griffis test session 5

indy lights chris griffis test session 6

indy lights chris griffis test session 7

indy lights chris griffis test session 8

Combined Lap Times
Fast Time Saturday Fast Time Sunday Overall
Jamin 1:15.717 1:16.062 1:15.717
Herta 1:15.825 1:15.781 1:15.781
Franzoni 1:15.987 1:15.795 1:15.795
O’Ward 1:16.256 1:16.09 1:16.09
Veekay 1:16.207 1:16.142 1:16.142
Cunha 1:16.159 1:16.159
Dapero 1:16.249 1:16.249
Norman 1:16.329 1:16.581 1:16.329
Martin 1:16.519 1:16.734 1:16.519
Fischer 1:17.103 1:16.812 1:16.812
Choi 1:18.518 1:18.193 1:18.193

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin is currently studying journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber while writing for multiple websites. She also serves on the managing staff for a select few. Born in North York, Ontario, McCubbin currently lives in Bradford, Ontario and spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area where she enjoys taking photos and working on websites.

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