Junior Open Wheel Talent

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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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Gabby Chaves wins Freedom 100

Posted May 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm Indy Lights Comments

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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Indy Lights: Chaves victorious in Long Beach

Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm Indy Lights Comments

Gabby Chaves centers the Indy Lights Long Beach podium with runner-up Zach Veach (right) and third-place finisher Matthew Brabham (left). (photo: IndyLights.com)

Gabby Chaves centers the Indy Lights Long Beach podium with runner-up Zach Veach (right) and third-place finisher Matthew Brabham (left). (photo: IndyLights.com)

Gabby Chaves drove to his second-career Indy Lights victory today on the streets of Long Beach. It was his first win of 2014 after finishing runner-up to Zach Veach in the Series’ opener two weeks ago in St. Petersburg. Veach holds a one-point lead heading into Round 3 at Barber Motorsports Park on April 26-27.

Chaves, driving for Belardi Auto Racing, led all 45-laps during Sunday’s caution-free race after moving ahead of pole-sitter Veach as they entered Turn 1 on the 1.968-mile street course. Veach set the fastest lap of the race (75.6723 sec.) on lap 14, while his Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham rounded out the podium.

“I was like, ‘Take that, Zach,’ ” Chaves said, in a post-race release. “It definitely pays to be on the clean side of the track with braking as I found out [two weeks ago] at St. Pete. I locked up my tires and Zach was able to get a clean run around me. I managed to get him this time. I’ve always said this is my favorite street course and I’m very pleased to get the win here.”

Veach closed the gap after losing some ground at the start, but wasn’t able to reclaim the lead. “Here in Long Beach, it’s all about the start,” he said, in a team release. “Something happened, so I don’t know if we had different wing settings than Gabby (Chaves); he was able to get us going into Turn 1. You run such low downforce here because of the long straightaways, so if you’re behind someone, you really can’t get close to them. I made a couple mistakes at the beginning of the race, then I was able to get settled in, catch back up to Gabby and ended up with the fastest lap of the race.”

Rookie Jack Harvey finished just over 27-seconds back in fourth with Luiz Razia completing the top-five in the 12-car field.

Make the jump for full results:

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Spencer Pigot dominated the opening weekend of the 2014 Pro Mazda season in his No. 7 Juncos Racing entry. (photo: Pro Mazda)

Spencer Pigot dominated the opening weekend of the 2014 Pro Mazda season in his No. 7 Juncos Racing entry. (photo: Pro Mazda)

The drivers who found success during the Winterfest, continued their winning ways this weekend during the Mazda Road to Indy opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Victor Franzoni, who won his first-ever USF2000 Winterfest race, found victory lane in wet conditions during Race 1 of the USF2000 season and RC Enerson, who won the 2014 USF2000 Winterfest, was first to the checkered flag in Race 2. In Pro Mazda, it was American Spencer Pigot capping off a spectacular weekend by sweeping the opening two races of 2014. Pigot also won the 2014 Pro Mazda Winterfest.

USF2000 Race Results: Race 1; Race 2

Pro Mazda Race Results: Race 1; Race 2

In Indy Lights, it was sophomore Zach Veach earning his first-career win after moving ahead of pole sitter (based on yesterday’s combined practice) Gabby Chaves in turn one. Chaves would hold on for the runner-up spot with rookie Jack Harvey advancing to third during the 39-lap race. Vittorio Ghirelli and Luiz Razia rounded out the top-five, respectively.

Indy Lights Race Results: Round 1

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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Canadian Scott Hargrove and American Spencer Pigot battle at Barber Motorsports Park during the 2014 Mazda Road to Indy Winterfest. (photo: ProMazda.com)

Canadian Scott Hargrove (No. 3) and American Spencer Pigot (No. 7) battle at Barber Motorsports Park during the 2014 Mazda Road to Indy Winterfest. (photo: ProMazda.com)

In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it was Canada that dominated ice hockey defeating the USA on both the men’s and women’s side (I’m still losing sleep over it), but in winter junior formula racing, it appears the Americans might have the upper hand over the rest of the world, at least in the annual Winterfest.

American RC Enerson claimed the 2014 USF2000 Winterfest title while fellow American Spencer Pigot earned the Pro Mazda title, after winning the USF2000 Winterfest in 2012. American drivers have claimed the championship since its inception in 2011. Zach Veach won the inaugural Winterfest. In 2012, it was Pigot who dominated winning five of the six races. Last winter, it was American Neil Alberico claiming all but one win. In fairness to my Canadian friends, Scott Hargrove, last year’s USF2000 Champion, did finish runner-up in the 2013 (USF2000) and the 2014 (ProMazda) Winterfest.

While Enerson, 16, of Port Richey, Fla., missed the first official test of the off-season at Barber Motorsports Park after breaking his foot, it was clear he was itching, not only under his cast, but, to get back in the car. On Dec. 4, he tweeted: “I need to get back in a racecar! Like now!” A week before Christmas, the cast was removed and Enerson was able to relieve that itch.

After starting from pole, driving for Team E, he went on to win the second race of the championship and later the finale, securing the championship in a down-to-the-wire fight with Englishman Michael Epps who also won two races giving the team title to Belardi Auto Racing.

“It was a great race today,” Enerson said, following his win in the finale. “I made a good start and just held my own. To win the championship is just amazing. I want to carry this with me into the season and, hopefully, use this momentum to good effect in St. Pete and try to go for the regular season championship. The team did a fantastic job to give me a great car. My coach, Jonatan Jorge, has been amazing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I want to thank him, my parents, the team and everyone who supports me.”

American Clark Toppe, driving for JDC MotorSports, showed impressive form in the Winterfest winning the third race at NOLA Motorsports Park. Victor Franzoni won the opener in his first USF2000 race.

In Pro Mazda, it was Juncos Racing driver Spencer Pigot — also a Floridian — claiming the championship crown ahead of Hargrove, and fellow Canadian Garett Grist, who won at NOLA Motorsports Park.

“The Cooper Tires Winterfest has been great,” Pigot said in a post-race release. “I worked really well with the team and they did an awesome job all week. We won two races, were fastest every session on track and took every pole position so we can’t be disappointed with that. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going and keep the car up at the front in the main season.”

Indy Lights drivers were able to test at both NOLA and Barber Motorsports Park as part of the 2014 Winterfest, but didn’t race. It was Belardi Auto Racing’s Gabby Chaves narrowly setting the pace at NOLA with Andretti Autosport’s Matthew Brabham posting the quickest time at Barber. Both drivers were exceptionally quick and challenged each other at both venues.

The Mazda Road to Indy drivers open the regular season on March 29-30 on the street of St. Petersburg.

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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