Saturday’s MRTI Qualifying, Race Reports From St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – After Friday’s opening day to the Mazda Road to Indy season, Saturday was the first race day of the year. Yesterday saw one practice session for each of the three rings of the ladder, then qualifying for today’s season openers after.

On Saturday, it once again started off with an early morning wake up call for qualifying starting at 7:30 am ET, but ended with three straight races.

Here are the recaps. 


Rookie Kyle Kirkwood won the season opening USF2000 race on Saturday morning as the Cape Motorsports driver passed pole sitter Jose Sierra on the opening lap and went on to lead all 20 laps en route to the victory. He bested Sierra by 5.4945-seconds in his No. 8 Mazda.

Sierra, came home second in his No. 12 Mazda for DeForce Racing.

Darren Keane brought his No. 36 Mazda home third to round out the podium with three different teams.

Pabst Racing’s Calvin Ming finished fourth in his No. 21 Mazda while Team Pelfrey’s Julian Van der Watt finished fifth in his No. 80 Mazda.

The race had four cars see their race end in contact.

Race No. 1 Results

  1.  8 Kirkwood
  2. 12 Sierra
  3. 36 Keane
  4. 21 Ming
  5. 80 Van der Watt
  6. 27 Kaminsky
  7. 82 Tomaselli
  8. 91 Fraga
  9. 81 Dupell
  10. 23 Lindh
  11. 24 Frederick
  12.  5 Soler-Obel
  13. 22 Kohl
  14. 30 Donegan
  15. 31 Cook
  16. 51 d’Orlando
  17. 93 Clunie
  18. 37 Osborne
  19. 11 Enders -1
  20. 38 DeLuzuriaga -2
  21. 10 Holden -2
  22. 19 Baron OUT
  23. 29 McDonough OUT
  24. 28 Caroline OUT
  25. 90 Cabrera OUT

Sunday’s second race of the opening weekend of the year saw its lineup determined by an early morning qualifying session. On Friday, Jose Sierra broke the track record with a flying lap around the Florida street course during qualifying to set the lineup for today’s race. That record though, didn’t even stand 24 hours.

Alex Baron, who crashed and finished 22nd in the season opener, went ever quicker in cooler morning temperatures on Saturday, turning a lap of 1:12.257-seconds in his No. 19 Mazda for his first career pole. Igor Fraga will start alongside on Sunday as he turned a lap around the 1.8-mile street circuit of 1:12.494-seconds in his No. 91 Mazda.

Saturday’s winner Kyle Kirkwood (1:12.704-seconds) and Lucas Kohl (1:12.813-seconds) will share Row 2 while Jamie Carolina rounded out the top five (1:12.829-seconds).

Sunday’s race will conclude the race weekend at 5:25 p.m. ET.

Race No. 2 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Alex Baron, Igor Fraga

Row 2: Kyle Kirkwood, Lucas Kohl

Row 3: Jamie Caroline, Julian Van der Watt

Row 4: Bruna Tomaselli, Jose Sierra

Row 5: Zach Holden, Kaylen Frederick

Row 6: Kory Enders, Colin Kaminsky

Row 7: Calvin Ming, Rasmus Lindh

Row 8: Darren Keane, Kyle Dupeli

Row 9: Manuel Cabrera, Keith Donegan

Row 10: Russell McDonough, Mathias Soler-Obel

Row 11: David Osborne, Michael d’Orlando

Row 12: Sabre Cook, Jayson Clunie

Row 13: Oscar DeLuzuriaga

Pro Mazda

Saturday’s Pro Mazda season opener was a thrilling one. Parker Thompson stared on the outside of the front row but quickly grabbed the lead on the opening lap of action. But, by Lap 9, eighth place starter Rinus Veekay was on his tail trying to grab the lead.

Thompson and VeeKay would treat us to a thrilling show with VeeKay passing Thompson on Lp 17 and never looking back en route to scoring his first career Pro Mazda victory in his No. 2 Mazda with Juncos Racing.

Thompson, brought his No. 90 Mazda home runner-up after leading a race-high 17 of the 25 laps. VeeKay led the other eight.

VeeKay’s Juncos teammate of Robert Megennis and Carlos Cunha would come home third and fourth respectively. They started fifth and fourth as well.

Pole sitter Oliver Askew fell to finish in his No. 3 Mazda.

Seven different teams were represented in the top nine finishing positions.

There was a first lap caution when Rafael Martins crashed in Turn 5. The next caution flag flew on Lap 15 for James Raven in Turn 8. That bunched up the field and allowed VeeKay to get by Thompson on the ensuing restart and to win by just 0.3309-seconds.

Race 1 Results

  1.  2 Veekay R
  2. 90 Thompson R
  3.  9 Megennis R
  4.  1 Cunha
  5.  3 Askew R
  6. 82 Robb
  7. 79 Malukas R
  8.  8 Lastochkin
  9. 10 Scott
  10. 27 Laurini R
  11. 91 Serravalle R
  12. 78 Wright R -1
  13. 83 Finelli -1
  14. 81 Gutierrez R OUT
  15. 12 Raven R OUT
  16. 80 Martins R OUT

Sunday’s race will see a new pole sitter as Rinus Veekay won his first career Pro Mazda pole this morning. The Netherlands native turned a lap of 1:08.175-seconds in his No. 2 Mazda to start a perfect day with a pole and a win.. David Malukas improved his starting positive eight spots as his No. 79 Mazda will roll off second. Malukas, turned a lap of 1:08.487-seconds.

Saturday’s pole sitter Oliver Askew will start third after circling the 14 turn track with a time of 1:08.517-seconds in his No. 3 Mazda. He will share Row 2 with Sting Ray Robb who turned a lap of 1:08.518-seconds in his No. 82 Mazda.

Carlos Cunha (1:08.704-seconds) rounded out the top five.

Sunday’s race will start at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Race No. 2 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Rinus Veekay, David Malukas

Row 2: Oliver Askew, Sting Ray Robb

Row 3: Carlos Cunha, Parker Thompson

Row 4: Harrison Scott, Robert Megennis

Row 5: Nikita Lastochkin, Lodovico Laurini

Row 6: Andres Gutierrez, Rafael Martins

Row 7: James Raven, Antonio Serravalle

Row 8: Kris Wright, Charles Finelli

Indy Lights

The pole sitter of today’s Indy Lights season opener didn’t get to start the race itself, as Aaron Telitz crashed in the morning qualifying session to set the lineup for tomorrow’s second race of the season. Telitz, was unscathed as he was treated and released from the infield care center. Unfortunately, his No. 9 Mazda was not.

They’d need time to fix his car and as a result he didn’t race.

Patricio O’Ward dominated in the absence of Telitz. O’Ward won his first career Indy Lights race as he started on the pole and led flag to flag in his No. 27 Mazda for Andretti Autosport.

Telitz’ Belardi Racing teammate of Santi Urrutia finished runner-up in his No. 5 Mazda. O’Ward’s Andretti teammate Colton Herta finished behind Urrutia to round out the podium in his No. 98 Mazda.

Rookie Victor Franzoni and Shelby Blackstock rounded out the top five in the incident free race.

Race 1 Results

  1. 27 O’Ward
  2.  5 Urrutia
  3. 98 Herta
  4. 23 Franzoni R
  5.  3 Blackstock
  6. 48 Norman
  7.  2 Alberico
  8. 28 Kellett -1
  9.  9 Telitz DNS

Pato O’Ward won also his first career Indy Lights Series pole with a time of 1:05.039-seconds in his No. 27 Mazda this morning. He will be joined on the front row tomorrow by his Andretti Autosport teammate of Colton Herta who made a lap of 1:05.187-seconds in his No. 98 Mazda. Today’s pole sitter Aaron Telitz was slated to roll off third in his No. 9 Mazda after turning a lap of 1:05.224-seconds. Unfortunately, Telitz found the concrete wall and had to see his car get fixed as a result.

Rookie Victor Franzoni (1:05.491-seconds) and Neil Alberico (1:05.596-seconds) rounded out the top five in qualifying.

Sunday’s race will precede the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener at 10:45 am ET.

Race No. 2 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Pato O’Ward R, Colton Herta

Row 2: Aaron Telitz, Victor Franzoni R

Row 3: Neil Alberico, Santi Urrutia

Row 4: Ryan Norman, Shelby Blackstock

Row 5: Dalton Kellett

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