INDIANAPOLIS – The Verizon IndyCar Series title race isn’t the only thing that’s heating up heading into this weekend’s race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. So are all three rings of the Mazda Road To Indy too. Two of the three divisions are seeing intense fights for the championship while another could be wrapped up as soon as Sunday.
A month or so ago, this was Colton Herta’s fight to lose. Unfortunately for him, it’s starting to crumble away. The three race stretch at Indy where Herta swept both races on the 2.35-mile road course as well as being victorious in the Freedom 100 on Carb Day set him up for a string of six straight top two finishes. Since though, he’s yet to get back on the podium with a seventh and sixth place effort in Toronto. He will also will be wearing a cast this weekend from an injury suffered in qualifying on the streets of the Exhibition Place. So, his prospects of a title in his sophomore campaign in the series are growing more and more in doubt.
Herta, enters this weekend with an 18 point disadvantage behind his Andretti Autosport teammate of Pato O’Ward for the points lead. O’Ward has two wins over his last three starts and a runner-up finish in the other. Overall, he has five top two’s over his last six starts on the season. That’s allowed the Mexican rookie to chase down and pass Herta for the lead.
But, we can’t leave out Santi Urrutia either. He won the second race of the weekend in Toronto and finished second in the first. Throw in a third place run at Iowa and Urrutia is 40 points out. He can make that up this weekend as Urrutia has won three of the last four races at Mid-Ohio.
Parker Thompson leads Rinus VeeKay by just seven points heading into the weekend. Both have had sensational seasons but VeeKay is on a terror again while Thompson is slipping. Thompson, won the second race on the Indy road course and on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval before his slide of two fourth and two eighth place runs since.
VeeKay meanwhile, has two straight wins and two fifth place runs heading into the weekend as he’s trimmed Thompson’s lead back down to 10. These two battled for the USF2000 title last year and now have a big fight on their hands with five races left in the season.
Carlos Cunha (-39) and David Malukas (-65) are still within striking distance.
The winner of the championship gets a scholarship to move up to Indy Lights next season.
Kyle Kirkwood is a name you need to get familiar with. He’s won seven races this season, six of which in-a-row. He’s also led 163 laps compared to 66 between everyone else combined. His points lead is well over 100 points and if he can net 34 more points on the field by Sunday afternoon, then the title is his.
That would give the 19 year old a free ticket up to Pro Mazda in 2019.