MRTI Observations: Pro Mazda Royal Purple Grand Prix of Indy Race 1
While each of the Mazda Road to Indy divisions put on a great show at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires took it to a whole new level with enough twists and turns to make your head spin.
— Pro Mazda (@ProMazda) May 11, 2018
Right off the drop of the green, the drama started as for the second time today, the pole sitter made a mistake going into turn one, with Oliver Askew going off track to go from first to seventh. He did a better job than Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitor Pato O’Ward in rebounding though, finishing second versus O’Ward placing fourth.
The drama didn’t stop there, though, as there was some three-wide racing with a bit of shoving mid-pack at the beginning, too, resulting in front wing damage for Andres Guiterrez, as well as right front suspension damage for Sting Ray Robb.
A lot of eyes were on Parker Thompson, though, after the championship standings leader qualified 11th due to an issue during qualifying. Keep in mind, he only entered the day with a four-point gap on Rinus Veekay. He was able to make up ground quickly, though, moving up to fifth in the early stages, and got a timely caution at Lap 6 to close the gap on the front four.
Thompson looked to be set for a podium, but possibly using up his tires too soon saw him drop back to fifth, where he was able to hold on despite the engine cover flying off. Not too shabby considering. By the way, thank you for the safety workers in grabbing the engine cover off the track under green with four laps to go because a caution at this point would’ve been disappointing.
Carlos Cunha, on the other hand, wasn’t the beneficiary of that caution as he made a mistake on the restart, dropping out of the runner-up position. He was able to make up some of the ground, though, finishing fourth.
To this point, it appeared as though David Malukas would be headed to victory lane as he was posting the quickest laps and had taken the lead with a move down the backstretch. However, he was deemed for going “off the track limits” in the pass, forced to serve a drive-thru penalty. I’m the type of person that I never agree with tracks having “limits” as to where you’re supposed to race. If it’s paved, it should be fair game no matter what. Thankfully, a second caution later in the event allowed him to rebound for a seventh-place finish.
This left the battle for the win between Veekay and Harrison Scott. It was a great battle entering turn one on Lap 16, but the coverage decided to show Guiterrez with a blown motor slowing on the frontstretch. The restart that came after that saw the battle continue, with the pair close all the way to the checkered flag as Veekay got the win.
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