Saturday, March 23, 2013

Road To Indy at St. Pete

All three lower levels of the Mazda Road to Indy joined the Izod IndyCar Series this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg with already three races in the books.

U.S. F2000
After getting a 1st and a 2nd at the opening weekend in Sebring, Canadian Scott Hargrove took his second win of the season Saturday. Hargrove led all 21 laps from pole position in route to the victory over Wyatt Gooden and Stefan Rzadzinski. Jesse Lazare of Canada finished fourth for a second straight race while Florian Latorre of France finished fifth.

The 2013 U.S. F2000 Winterfest champion Neil Alberico had another race end early when he was taken out in a first lap accident. Alberico was taken out on lap 1 in race one at Sebring, but rebounded in race two to get the win.

Hargrove and Alberico will be on the first row for race two, Sunday morning at 9:30 AM. Hargrove leads the points standings with 90 points through three races, 36 clear of Gooden and 39 clear of Rzadinzki. Alberico is currently 10th, with only 34 points.

Pro Mazda
Florida-born Matthew Brabham picked up an impressive victory Saturday in Pro Mazda, coming from 8th on the grid to lead the final 10 laps of the 21 lap race. Diego Ferreira of Venezuela finished second, with Shelby Blackstock getting the final spot on the podium after starting from pole. Spencer Pigot finished fourth and Nick Andries rounded out the top five.

After splitting the two races at Austin and race 1 at St. Pete, Brabham leads Ferreira by three points heading into race 2, Sunday at 3:00pm. Shelby Blackstock will be on pole again for race two, Ferreira will join him on row one. Finnish driver and 2011 U.S. F2000 champion Petri Suvanto and American Kyle Kaiser will be row two, with Brabham and Pigot making up row three.

Indy Lights
For the fourth straight year, a Sam Schmidt driver won the season opener of the Indy Lights season. Defending Pro Mazda champion Jack Hawksworth of the UK, won after the Colombians Carlos Muñoz and Gabby Chaves got together in turn one while running 1-2. Hawksworth held off Irishman Peter Dempsey and American Sage Karam for the win. Mexican Juan Pablo Garcia finished fourth and American Zach Veach finished fifth.

Hawksworth looks to continue the streak started by JK Vernay, Josef Newgarden and Tristan Vautier of winning the Indy Lights championship after winning the season opener. Hawksworth leads Dempsey by 12 points, Karam by 17 and Garcia by 20.

The Indy Lights series will join the IndyCar series at Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks, while U.S. F2000 and Pro Mazda have off until May 25, when the two series join USAC at The Night Before The 500 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.