Returning to Road America after two of the four Andretti
Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers got the chance to take
laps in an Indy car earlier in the month at the track, Nico Jamin (No. 27
Synova Mazda) and Dalton Kellett (No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda) switched
gears and cars to ready themselves for Rounds 8 and 9 of the 2017 season. Heading
to the 4.014-mile, 14-turn course outside of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Jamin and
Kellett joined teammates Ryan Norman (No. 48 Flip Side Mazda) and Colton Herta
(No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda with Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing), setting their
sights on success heading into the second half of the season.
Kicking off Friday morning with practice, the teams switched gears to qualify for Round 8, the Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Allied Building Products Race 1 Saturday.
Before the green flag, a fuel leak was found, and Herta was unable to log laps, switching gears to qualify for Race 1 without track time. At the end of the 30-minute session, it was rookie Norman setting the pace for the four Andretti drivers, qualifying third, his highest in his Indy Lights career, with a lap of 1:53.4742. Behind him, Jamin and Kellett both qualified well, starting fifth and, sixth respectively. Unfortunately for Herta, his string of bad luck seemed to spill over, battling mechanical issues but able to take to Road America to qualify 13th for Race 1.
As Race 1 got underway, five laps in to the 20-lap event Norman radios he went off into the grass in Turn 5 during a three-wide battle, recovering to press on. Holding his line, he continued the race to finish his highest this year and in his career for fourth.
Getting a good start, Jamin positioned himself at the checkered flag to finish sixth, though felt he battled the car a bit during the weekend. Not having push-to-pass, Jamin did his best to hang on to nab his seventh of eight Top 10 finishes.
After getting a rough start in sixth, Kellett attempted to pass in Turn 5, making contact with a competitor and damaging his front wing. On fresh tires, he felt good and did his best to finish ninth with his damaged wing, getting his fifth Top 10 of the season.
Qualifying on pole for Race 2 earlier in the morning, Herta attempted to use the boost to drive from the back, working to gain position throughout Race 1. Getting stuck in traffic, Herta finished 12th, shifting focus to Round 9.
The team hits the 4.014-mile, 14-turn road course at Road America one more time for tomorrow’s second half of the weekend double-header. Coverage of Rounds 8 and 9 airs Monday, June 26, at noon ET on NBC Sports Network.
Ryan Norman – No. 48 Flip Side Mazda
Started: 3rd // Finished: 4th
Championship: 11 / 14 (97 pts.)
“The beginning of the race went pretty well. I moved from third to second. Stayed there for a little bit, and then [Kyle] Kaiser got a mega run on me in Turn 5, and actually I didn’t even notice until we turned in a little bit but Santi [Urrutia] was in there as well. We were three-wide going in there. That shuffled me back to fourth. And then I tried staying, I think, a little too close to him, trying too hard to catch up to him and just kind of not keep my tires down. Everyone started to get runs on me, and I started moving back a couple of spots. Then, I kind of put my head down and gained the spots back. I had the second-fastest lap time of the race, so I think overall it was pretty good and it was a good learning experience. Tomorrow, we have our work cut out for us coming from last, so I’m just going to put my head down and see what I can do.”
Nico Jamin – No. 27 Synova Mazda
Started: 5th //Finished: 6th
Championship: 3 / 14 (152 pts.)
“I had a pretty good start. Kept my position, and then I was able to pass Ryan [Norman] for fourth. From then on, I was pretty much by myself, no push-to-pass or anything. I was just trying to push as hard as I could but I’m struggling a lot with the car this weekend. I’ve never been struggling so much with the car. We just cannot put our finger on what’s wrong. At the end, we still bring pretty good points. We’re sixth, we’re still third in championship, but for sure we need to find something for tomorrow because our race pace was quite terrible. We’re going to look at the data with Yancy, my engineer, and try to figure out what is wrong, what we missed and we’ll be stronger tomorrow.”
Dalton Kellett – No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda
Started: 6th // Finished: 9th
Championship: 9 / 14 (98 pts.)
“Kind of a shame the way things ended up in the first race
here at Road America. Off the bat on the first lap going into Turn 5, I was
going to pass a guy and didn’t leave me enough room. My front wing contacted
his left rear and it looks like we broke one of the pillars that connects it
to the nose cone. When the tires were fresh, I was able to be decently quick
and kind of racy. But once the tires went away, and not having that downforce
in the front wing, I was getting eaten up in the brake zones and high-speed
corners. There wasn’t really much we could do after that. It was a great
recovery for the No. 28 K-Line crew. Obviously, I want to come home with
something a little better than that, but we’ll see what we have for tomorrow
Colton Herta – No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda
Started: 13th // Finished: 12th
Championship: 4 / 14 (138 pts.)
On Saturday’s Race 1:
“It was a pretty frustrating Race 1. After a tough day yesterday and starting from the back, we kind of expected it to be hard to pass, but it was super hard in traffic and we were just kind of stuck there. So, onward and upward. We start on the pole tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to getting back out there.”
On qualifying in the pole for Sunday’s Race 2:
“What a roller coaster ride this weekend. It started out quite bad and now it’s looking good going into Race 2tomorrow. We still have a tough race ahead of us. We’re going to have to come from the back and try and get some points, but it should be all good. [The car was] amazing in qualifying this morning. It was always really good, we just had some little mechanical issues, but it’s looking good.”