Mid-Ohio Set to Host Mazda Road to Indy Open-Wheel Extravaganza
 July 26, 2016| 
  • Series News
Seven Races on Tap as Title Chases Tighten for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000

PALMETTO, Fla. – Just five races remain in the quest for a trio of Mazda scholarships and season-ending awards worth more than $2.3 million as competitors in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – all three steps on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder – convene this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The scenic and challenging 2.258-mile road course will host two races apiece for Indy Lights and Pro Mazda, as well as a triple-header for USF2000 as the 2016 season reaches toward its climax.

Indy Lights Sextet Separated by Just 47 Points 
Indy Lights is currently in the midst of one of the most intriguing and hard-fought contests in its 30-year history, dating back to its roots when the American Racing Series was formed in 1986. At stake is a Mazda scholarship valued at $1M which will guarantee the series’ champion an entry in a minimum of three races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500.

The top six contenders – Ed Jones from Dubai; Santiago “Santi” Urrutia from Uruguay; Felix Serralles from Puerto Rico; Kyle Kaiser from California; Dean Stoneman from the United Kingdom; and Zach Veach from Stockdale, Ohio – are currently separated by just 47 points. A total of 66 points is available during this weekend’s Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio double-header which will comprise Rounds 14 and 15 out of 18.

Jones, 21, driving for the British Carlin team, has led the way since April, even though the most recent of his two victories came way back in May during Round Six at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix course.

“It’s good to be back on a road course with Mid-Ohio,” said Jones. “We tested there early in the year so we have an idea what to expect. I look forward to the challenge of the changing conditions that are always promised there. With the summer break after the race, it’s important to come out with a strong weekend and put us in great shape for the final few rounds.”

Urrutia, 19, who won one of the two Pro Mazda races at Mid-Ohio in 2015 on his way to the championship crown, has designs on following in the footsteps of Spencer Pigot, who won back-to-back titles in Pro Mazda and Indy Lights in 2014 and 2015. Urrutia, who drives for seven-time champion team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, lies 24 points adrift of Jones, 268-244.

Serralles (Carlin), 24, lies just eight points further behind on 236 points, followed by 20-year-old Kaiser (Juncos Racing) on 233, Stoneman (Andretti Autosport), who celebrated his 26th birthday on July 24, on 230, and Veach, 21, (Belardi Auto Racing) at 221. Stoneman, a cancer survivor, will be looking to rebound from a major disappointment at Toronto, where a mechanical problem prevented him from even starting Race Two in Toronto, dropping him from second in the point standings to fifth.

Other contenders will include Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport), who claimed his first career Indy Lights podium at Mid-Ohio last year, and teammate Dalton Kellett; Andre Negrao (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), who made his second visit to the podium in the last round at Toronto; Canadian Garett Grist (Team Pelfrey), who qualified on pole for both Pro Mazda races at Mid-Ohio in 2015; Neil Alberico (Carlin), who is a Mid-Ohio race winner in both USF2000 and Pro Mazda competition; and Zachary Claman De Melo (Juncos Racing), who recently tested in Indy car at the circuit with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Race One is slated for 3:30 pm EDT on Saturday, with Race Two at 12:20 pm on Sunday, immediately before the headline IndyCar event. Live timing and live streaming video will be available at indylights.com, indycar.com and on the Road To Indy TV App. The race will air on Wednesday, August 3 EDT at 1:00 am EDT on NBCSN.
 
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