Kicking off their last double-header weekend of the 2017
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, the Andretti Autosport drivers
took to the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a session of
practice and two rounds of qualifying before taking the green flag for Race 1 in
Turning the most laps of the field in the 25-minute afternoon session, Colton Herta, in his No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, qualified just shy of pole position, turning his fastest lap at 112.856 mph with a time of 1:12.0283. Coming in just behind him, teammate Nico Jamin, in the No. 27 Synova Mazda, turned his fastest lap to start third at 112.656 mph with a fastest lap time of 1:12.1561.
After getting stuck in Turn 2 early in the session and bringing out the red flag on track, Dalton Kellett pitted to have his No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda checked over, returning to qualifying and recovering for a ninth place Race 1 start. Turning a lap of 112.086 mph, his quickest lap clocked in at 1:12.5227. Ryan Norman, in his newly-debuted No. 48 Journey Mazda, turned his fastest lap at 111.885 mph to qualify just behind Kellett in 10th.
As the field approached the green flag through ‘The Carousel’ in Turn 12 and then the final corner, the flagman deemed the start too slow by pole-sitter Urrutia, flying the yellow flag to slow the field. Attempting to take the start a second time, again the field was brought too slow to the green flag and waived off again. With third time being the charm, Urrutia and Herta took off with the rest of the field behind them for Race 1. Jamin, in third behind Urrutia and Herta, made a move on the first lap to take second place from Herta.
Continuing to battle at Lap 7, Herta took back second from Jamin, while Kellett ran in seventh behind them and Norman in 13th. Reminded to use push-to-pass wisely with 19 laps to go, Herta set on a path to chase down Urrutia in first. Doing so by Lap 12, Herta tries to pass Urrutia, but facing slight understeer, settled in to second.
Kellett, who recovered from a shortened practice session after going off-track and making contact with the wall to avoid a spun car and a tough qualifying session, was the fastest on track with 10 laps remaining. Though bested by Shelby Blackstock, Kellett showed resilience through adversity and pushed through.
At the end of Round 13, Herta held on for second after running out of push-to-pass, with Jamin finishing behind him in third. Kellett advanced to finish seventh, his eighth top-10 this season, with Norman behind him in ninth.
Colton Herta – No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda
Started: 2nd // Finished: 2nd // Championship: 2nd (239 pts.)
“Santi [Urritia] was so consistent and wasn’t making any mistakes. We had one shot when he made a small error and I used my last three push to passes on one lap trying to get around him. I ran out of push to pass on about Lap 12. But the car was really quick, the track changed dramatically. It’s almost like rain line on the first lap with the [IndyCar tire] rubber going down, I’d rather have Cooper tire rubber down. But, it was a good race and helped with points. I’ll settle for second and go for a win from the pole tomorrow.”
Nico Jamin – No. 27 Synova Mazda
Started: 3rd // Finished: 3rd // Championship: 7th (211 pts.)
“With all the support series, the track was really weird. It almost felt like there was no grip for the first two or three laps. I think we had a really good start to get up to second, but after that we struggled a bit to gain anything with the car. I did everything I could with the tools in the car to try and help. I think we maybe didn’t make the right changes for the conditions that changed and had a few power issues. I don’t know exactly what it was, but we’ll figure it out for tomorrow and work to balance the car better. The No. 27 team did a great job today, and it’s great to get back on the podium with them.”
Dalton Kellett – No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda
Started: 9th // Finished: 7th // Championship: 9th (168 pts.)
“We started all the way back in ninth for Race 1 after losing our fast lap in qualifying. We were definitely looking to make up some spots, and we did that and made some passes on some open spots. I had a run on Neil [Alberico] in the middle of the race, but he picked it up and ran away. Then everything kind of settled into a nice rhythm, and we just stayed in that seventh place for the rest of the race. The team did a good job with the cars though and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ryan Norman – No. 48 Journey Mazda
Started: 10th // Finished: 9th // Championship: 11th (162 pts.)
“The beginning of the race was a little weird and we had an issue in second gear, so on the start in the first couple of laps I just got eaten up in slow the corners. Suddenly, second seemed fine and I just put my head down and chipped away at it. I think we had a car to push forward more toward the front today, but we’ll have to go back to the garage and see what went wrong today so we can fix it for tomorrow.”