Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Spencer Pigot (right) celebrates with Juncos Racing teammate Jose Gutierrez in Sonoma. Gutierrez earned the race win with Pigot securing the Pro Mazda title and Mazda Road to Indy scholarship. (photo: ProMazda)

Spencer Pigot (right) celebrates with Juncos Racing teammate Jose Gutierrez in Sonoma. Gutierrez earned the race win with Pigot securing the Pro Mazda title and Mazda Road to Indy scholarship. (photo: ProMazda)

Florian Latorre (USF2000), Spencer Pigot (Pro Mazda), and Gabby Chaves (Indy Lights) are the 2014 champions of the Mazda Road to Indy.

In USF2000, it was RC Enerson claiming victory in the opening race in Sonoma, but Frenchman Florian Latorre rebounded to claim the second race and overall title. Kyle Kaiser earned his first-career victory in Pro Mazda’s opening event with Jose Gutierrez claiming his inaugural win in the second race. Pigot claimed the title. Jack Harvey swept the competition in Indy Lights with Gabby Chaves securing the championship title.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Nicolas Costa leads the field during the start of the first USF2000 race last weekend at Mid-Ohio. (photo: USF2000)

Nicolas Costa leads the field during the start of the first Pro Mazda race last weekend at Mid-Ohio. Costa, driving the No. 82 Team Pelfrey car, went on to win his first-career race. (photo: ProMazda)

It’s been awhile and for that I apologize.

They say you’re only supposed to make one big life change per year. I’ve been blessed with three in the past nine months: a baby, a new house, and a new job. While all three are special (one far more than the others), they require a lot of attention. Priorities, right?

While I’ve been dealing with big changes in my life, there has been some pretty significant changes in the Mazda Road to Indy, including a great many accomplishments. They all deserve attention and fortunately there has been more and more dedication to today’s up-and-coming drivers on the Internet, so hopefully you’ve been following the news closely. While the blog has been quiet, I’ve been pretty steady with updates on Twitter, even if only through a retweet. Enough about that, let’s get to the important stuff.

Here’s a quick look back at what’s been happening.

USF2000

Jake Eidson won Race 1 in Toronto and Florian Latorre drove to victory in Race 2. This past weekend, at Mid-Ohio, RC Enerson took the checkered in the opening race; Eidson returned to victory lane in Race 2; and Latorre topped the field in Round 12 to claim the championship lead heading into the final weekend (Rounds 13 and 14) in Sonoma on Aug. 23-24. Here’s how the points stand now: (top-five) Latorre 277; Eidson 247; Enerson 244; Telitz 202; Franzoni 105.

Pro Mazda

Canadian Scott Hargrove claimed victory in Houston on June 28 and Spencer Pigot won Round Nine the next day at Reliant Park. At Mid-Ohio, Nicolas Costa earned his first-career victory Saturday, 0.3458 seconds ahead of rookie Ryan Booth. On Sunday, it was two Canadians on the podium with Garett Grist winning, Costa finishing runner-up, and Hargrove completing the podium. Pro Mazda drivers head to Milwaukee before wrapping up the championship in Sonoma. Pigot (259 points) retains his lead in the championship hunt by 14 points over Hargrove. Neil Alberico is third (186), followed by Shelby Blackstock (174), and Grist (172).

Indy Lights

After winning the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gabby Chaves went on to win at Pocono on July 6th, finishing just ahead of Zach Veach and Jack Harvey. Round nine, held on the streets of Toronto, was won by rookie Alex Baron with Chaves and Harvey rounding out the podium. Last weekend, in Ohio, Harvey won both races. Chaves (431 points) currently holds an 18-point advantage over Harvey, followed by Veach (407), Matthew Brabham (325), and Luiz Razia (313). The drivers will hit the Milwaukee Mile on Aug. 17 before completing the season on the West Coast with the Aug. 23-24 doubleheader at Sonoma Raceway.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Saturday morning reading

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted July 12, 2014 at 9:44 am Other Leave a comment

If you missed it, grab a cup of coffee and jump over to Kart360.com to read my latest feature story on Wagner Rossi and MG Tires.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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USF2000 drivers take the green flag at Lucas Oil Raceway for the 'Night before the 500' race. (photo: USF2000)

USF2000 drivers take the green flag at Lucas Oil Raceway for the ‘Night before the 500′ race. (photo: USF2000)

Aaron Telitz (USF2000) and Garett Grist (Pro Mazda) topped the competition in Saturday’s ‘Night Before the 500′ race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana.

It was the first-career victory for both drivers. Telitz carved his way through the competition in USF2000, advancing from sixth to first on the 0.686-mile oval, while Grist led from flag-to-flag in Pro Mazda.

In USF2000, Austin Cindric, son of Penske Racing President Tim Cindric, finished second with Brazilian driver Victor Franzoni completing the podium. Jeroen Slaghekke was fourth with Clark Toppe rounding out the top-five. Florian Latorre, who started from pole position, set the fastest lap of the race.

“The race was awesome,” Telitz said. “I was starting sixth and I knew that I was going to have to have a car that could work on the bottom to make any passes, and about Lap 15 it just came in. I could ride down on the bottom just as fast as the guys at the top and when you have a shorter distance, you’re going to make passes. I went right to the front and sailed off and that was it. It feels awesome to win in front of a crowd that came to watch us without the [Verizon] IndyCar Series as the headline. It is seriously awesome and I have to thank all the fans that were here.”

In Pro Mazda, Scott Hargrove finished runner-up after starting sixth overall. American Spencer Pigot was third, finishing with a nearly flat right-front tire. Nicolas Costa finished fourth with Anders Krohn fifth. Shelby Blackstock set the fastest race lap on Lap 54 (113.127 mph). Both races were run caution-free.

“Today’s race went really well,” Grist said. “I was able to settle down into a rhythm after Spencer [Pigot] had put some pressure on me. Once I settled down into my rhythm we slowly pulled away and I think we managed traffic a lot better than the rest. I could definitely use all the lanes and not lose any time going down low which is a lot like I had last year in the USF2000 race. I am really happy the car was that good and we were able to do that.”

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Gabby Chaves wins Freedom 100

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted May 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm Indy Lights Leave a comment

Gabby Chaves points skyward following today's victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. (photo: Indy Lights)

Gabby Chaves points skyward following today’s victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. (photo: Indy Lights)

Last year, during the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race, Gabby Chaves saw a probable victory turn into defeat by 0.0026 seconds. A year ago, Peter Dempsey, piloting the bright-red No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car, passed three drivers on the high side of the track for the closest finish in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.

This year, the bright-red Belardi No. 5 car was again in victory lane at the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But this time, it was Chaves piloting the car and stealing a last lap, final straightaway, victory. And again, the margin was close, as in 0.0050 seconds. Matthew Brabham led out of turn four but Chaves timed the draft perfectly earning the win. Zach Veach was third after battling throughout the 100-mile race with Chaves and teammate Brabham. Luiz Razia who started from pole position finished fourth with Jack Harvey rounding out the top-five in the 11-car field.

On lap 15, the caution flags waved following a scary incident when Chase Austin lost the rear of his car on the exit of turn one, impacting the interior retaining wall and tires. Austin made four to five big saves on the car through the corner before impact. After evaluation, it was determined that Austin suffered a fractured left wrist. The lone caution took place from Lap 15-22.

Brabham led 28 laps and set the fastest lap of the race on Lap Four (189.214 mph).

“I was just yelling so loud on that victory lap,” said Chaves, who qualified fifth. “I’ve worked so hard to be where I am and to be one step closer to where I want to be is … I’m just speechless. It’s going great. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. The team deserves this (win).”

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Dallara IL-15 1a

Dallara’s 2015 Indy Lights machine, the IL-15.

The Indy Lights IL-15 race car was unveiled yesterday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The car, a 2015 Dallara, looks pretty sharp and earned high praise from former Lights and current IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden during today’s Freedom 100 broadcast. “I’m actually really excited and a little bit jealous,” Newgarden said with a smile. “I’m jealous that [Indy Lights drivers] are getting a new car right now because it could be a little bit cooler than the IndyCar.”

The car will be much lighter and quicker than the current offering. What are your thoughts? Do you like the design?

Official Release: State-of-the-Art Dallara IL-15 Sets the Tone for the Future of Indy Lights

Dallara IL-15 7a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

Dallara IL-15 4a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

Dallara IL-15 5a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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USF2000: Colorado native Will Owen drove to his first-ever victory in the USF2000 National Championship in the first race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. (photo: USF2000)

USF2000: Colorado native Will Owen drove to his first-ever victory in the USF2000 National Championship in the opening race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. (photo: USF2000)

It was a weekend of firsts in the Mazda Road to Indy during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Five of the six races saw first-time series winners on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

USF2000

Will Owen, driving for Pabst Racing, started things off with a win in USF2000. After switching to slicks — the only driver to do so on a drying track — Owen crossed the stripe nearly 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Jake Eidson. Aaron Telitz rounded out the podium. In the second race of the weekend, it was Adrian Starrantino taking the victory ahead of Florian Latorre (+.3394) with Victor Franzoni in third.

Pro Mazda

After starting the season a perfect four-for-four Spencer Pigot finally saw his win-streak snapped. Canadian Scott Hargrove, who won last season’s USF2000 championship, swept the competition claiming both wins on the Indianapolis road course. Shelby Blackstock finished second in the first race with Neil Alberico in third. On Saturday, Alberico finished runner-up to his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate. Juncos Racing driver Jose Gutierrez completed the podium.

Indy Lights

Matthew Brabham, last year’s Pro Mazda champ, earned his first-career Indy Lights victory on a drying track in the 40-minute sprint race after starting from pole position. Luiz Razia finished just over two seconds back with Jack Harvey in third. Zack Meyer was fourth with Alex Baron rounding out the top five. Championship leaders Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves finished ninth and 11th, respectively. In the second race it was Razia earning his first-career Lights win and first of the season for powerhouse Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Harvey and Baron completed the podium.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 return to action on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval for the Night Before the 500 on May 24, while Indy Lights return for the Freedom 100 on the IMS oval May 23, Carb Day.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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USF2000

USF2000: RC Enerson (No. 7) looks to hold off a challenge from Florian Latorre (No. 10) on entry into Turn 1 at Barber Motorsports Park as the field settles in behind. (photo: USF2000)

RC Enerson and Spencer Pigot swept the USF2000 and Pro Mazda competition, respectively, while Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves split victories in Indy Lights during the Mazda Road to Indy stop at Barber Motorsports Park.

For Team E’s Enerson, two wins, while leading every lap and setting a fastest race lap , secured a 42-point lead in the USF2000 championship hunt, 121-79, over Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jake Eidson, who finished third and eighth.

In Pro Mazda, Pigot upped his unbeaten streak to four, despite strong pressure from Canadian Scott Hargrove. Kyle Kaiser was third in Race 1 while Shelby Blackstock secured the final podium spot in Race 2.

In Indy Lights, it was Veach earning his second victory of the season in the 30-lap sprint race with Luiz Razia finishing runner-up and Jack Harvey rounding out the podium. On Sunday, the Lights drivers saw their race end four laps early due to rain. Chaves cut into Veach’s points lead with the win (he now trails by nine points), with his Belardi Auto Racing teammate Alex Baron crossing the stripe in second. Veach was third, followed by Razia and Harvey.

Make the jump for full results:

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AlexBaron

Check out the latest results from today’s Mazda Road to Indy test at Barber Motorsports Park.

USF2000

Pro Mazda

Indy Lights

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Driver Blog: Jack Mitchell Jr. – F1600 Road Atlanta

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm Driver Blog, F1600 Series Comments (1)

Jack Mitchell Jr.

Jack Mitchell Jr. pilots the No. 93 Exclusive Autosport Spectrum at Road Atlanta in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. (photo: F1600Series.com)

Editor’s Note: I’m pleased to welcome back junior formula racer Jack Mitchell Jr. to  Junior Open-Wheel Talent. Mitchell last wrote for JOWT following the Canadian Grand Prix in June, 2013. This season, he is racing in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series and recently charged from 17th on the grid to finish 2nd at Road Atlanta (see video below). But before you watch the highlight video, make sure to read Jack’s recap of his weekend in Georgia. Enjoy.  -Ed

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Thank you so much for having me back!

The offseason was a pretty long one for me. I had not been in a car for over six months, which is rough for any driver. I used my time during the off season to focus on developing myself as an athlete, applying to college, and finishing off high school strong. Fortunately my hard work paid off, and I am attending Marquette University in the fall and I will continue racing while there. In Chicago there was snow on the ground for a majority of those six months and it was freezing cold. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to hop on a plane and get down to the warm south and one of my favorite tracks, Road Atlanta.

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