The sunny skies of St. Petersburg, Florida welcomed the first practice and qualifying sessions of 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition. The Andretti quartette, inclusive of veteran driver Dalton Kellett and rookies Colton Herta, Nico Jamin and Ryan Norman all showed promising speeds throughout practice. Herta led the pack, finishing today’s practice P3 with Jamin and Kellett just behind in positions four and five. Norman took the 13th spot.
A string of unfortunate luck hit the Andretti team during the qualifying session. Herta, driver of the No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda, shot to the top and concluded his session with a fifth position finish. Within six minutes of qualifying, Jamin got caught up in Turn 10, getting stuck in the runoff due braking issues. Once back on track, Jamin recovered to finish the session in the eleventh position.
Mid-way through qualifying, the No. 48 Flip Side Mazda brought out the red flag when it clipped the inside curb and scraped the wall of Turn 10. Though okay, Norman looks to recover with a second chance during Sunday’s Round 2 race.
Dalton Kellett, driver of the No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda, finished in the 12th position. Looking to progress, Kellett expressed persistence in finding the key to recover moving forth in the remaining sessions this weekend.
Colton Herta - No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda
- Qualified on the third row for his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires debut.
- Will start tomorrow's 50-lap race from the fifth position.
“It was an alright effort, definitely not our best. We have a lot more potential and unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to show it. We had a ton of red flags, and as a result were in and out of the pits. [Fifth] is a good place to start for Saturday’s race and if we can get a top-five, we’ll have a good start to our year.”
Nico Jamin - No. 27 Synova Mazda
- Due to braking issues, found himself in the runoff of Turn 10, causing a red flag and losing his quickest lap.
- The Frenchman will see the green flag from the 11th position.
“It was a tough first qualifying for us. I had a few issues with the brakes and will work with our engineers to fix that for tomorrow. It was hard for me to break late and every time I would try, I would go into the runoffs. That’s what happened in the second lap of qualifying and unfortunately I lost my quickest lap for causing a red flag. Everything didn’t go our way, but we’ll work hard tonight and be back at the front tomorrow.”
Dalton Kellett - No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA Mazda
- Finished today's practice in the fifth position setting a pace for today's qualifying.
- The verteran-Indy Lights driver will start tomorrow's race from the 12th spot.
“Not the session we wanted to have; we ended up P12. I think this morning was a lot closer to our pace. It’s a really competitive field. If you want to be up front in qualifying, you have to put everything together and everything has to line up. We just got caught off-guard in the last run trying to get a gap, and then the last red came out after my first hot lap. We didn’t get the run we wanted, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’re going to get with the engineers, put our heads together, and see what we can do in the morning.”
Ryan Norman - No. 48 Flip Size Mazda
- Gained momentum through the first half of the session, before touching the wall and causing a red flag.
- The rookie will line up 15th for the Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Cooper Tires Race 1.
“Overall, qualifying didn’t really go as planned. I nicked an inside curb going into Turn 10 and ended up flying into the wall. The car was getting faster and faster, the Flip Side crew has given me a great car. Not the result we wanted but we’ll come back even stronger tomorrow - hopefully we’ll get a good result and push forward in the race.”