Watkins Glen, NY – The pressure gets bigger and bigger as the days go on through the race weekend at Watkins Glen. On Friday, it was practice and qualifying day. Today, it was part one of race day festivities.
Both the USF2000 and Pro Mazda Series’ had races on Saturday, with the USF2000 having their season conclude this afternoon. The Pro Mazda drivers will have their second and final race of the weekend on Sunday be their season finale.
The Indy Lights drivers had practice and qualifying of their own on Saturday with their season finale also coming tomorrow.
Rookies stole the show on Saturday with rookie Aaron Telitz setting the quickest lap of the day with a time of 1:33.237-seconds in his No. 9 Mazda for Belardi Racing. He was in the top five in Friday’s lone practice too. Fellow rookie Colton Herta was P2 with a lap around the upstate New York road course at 1:33.382-seconds in his No. 98 Mazda. Herta, was also second in Friday’s practice too.
Another rookie in Nico Jamin was third (1:33.510-seconds) in his No. 27 Mazda, while yesterday’s quickest driver in Shelby Blackstock was fourth on Saturday with a lap of 1:33.622-seconds in his No. 51 Mazda.
Neil Alberico (1:33.794-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Kyle Kaiser was ninth in the session.
In qualifying to set the field for tomorrow’s season finale, Herta won the pole in his No. 98 Mazda. He turned a lap of 1:32.439-seconds as he’s certainly the favorite in Sunday’s season finale.
Santi Urruita turned a lap of 1:32.795-seconds as he will roll off second in his No. 5 Mazda. Telitz (1:32.852-seconds) Jamin (1:32.889-seconds) and Zachary Claman De Melo (1:32.929-seconds) rounded out the top five and will start third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Kaiser will roll off 10th.
Sunday’s race will run at 10:50 a.m. ET.
The Pro Mazda day started off with their penultimate race. Victor Franzoni started on the pole but his main challenger for this year’s championship in Anthony Martin quickly got by on the drop of the green flag. He’d lead all the way until Lap 11 when Franzoni for the second straight race got by in the closing stages and cruised to his sixth win in 11 races this season.
Martin, despite leading the opening 11 laps would settle for second for his fifth runner-up of the season. He now trails Franzoni by eight points heading to tomorrow’s season finale.
We’d have one caution flag and that flew on Lap 3 when teammates Robert Megennis and Nikita Lastochkin made contact and crashed in Turn 9. We’d go back green on Lap 5 and Franzoni would stalk Martin until making the winning move with just three laps-to-go.
The drivers would qualify later on in the day and set the field for Sunday’s season finale. In that qualifying session, Franzoni would once again win the pole. This time, Cunha will join him on the front row while Martin will roll off third.
Sunday’s race will start at 7:55 a.m. ET with either Franzoni or Martin taking the championship and scholarship to a full season of Indy Lights next season.
The day started with USF2000 quals and Oliver Askew took the pole for today’s season finale. Askew, entered the day 13 points up on rookie Rinus VeeKay for the championship.
In the race VeeKay pulled out to the lead from the get go and never looked back in leading all 17 laps en route to his third career win and ninth straight podium to close out the season. It was also his 12th podium finish over the last 14 races.
But, Askew was right there the whole time finishing second and beating VeeKay in the championship by eight markers.
The race was run clean from start to finish with zero caution flags being flown.
The season has now concluded with Askew winning the scholarship to Pro Mazda competition next season.