Americans Pigot, Alberico and Eidson Lead the Way to Indy
 May 6, 2015| 
  • Series News
All Three Levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Will Support the Grand Prix of Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.
– No fewer than 16 different nationalities will be represented when all three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy development ladder continue their campaigns this week in support of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Perhaps it is appropriate as they head for the premier open-wheel auto racing venue in North America that home-grown drivers currently hold the points lead in all three championships.

Spencer Pigot, who hails from Orlando, Fla., but now makes his home in Indianapolis, took control of the top-tier Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title-chase by virtue of a commanding double victory two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Neil Alberico, from Los Gatos, Calif., furthered his claim to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by winning also at Barber, while Jake Eidson, from Littleton, Colo., heads the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda standings on the heels of podium finishes in each of the six races held to date.

Coincidentally, fellow rising American star and 2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden broke through in Alabama by securing his first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series victory for Indianapolis-based CFH Racing. All four drivers will be looking toward the top step of the podium again this weekend at the 2.439-mile road circuit which uses portions of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

The Mazda Road to Indy is a proven driver development “ladder” which guides drivers all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, with scholarship packages to assist in the graduation between each level.

Alberico and Urrutia Head 22-Strong Pro Mazda Field
The Pro Mazda competitors will contest a triple-header on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit, including a make-up race following postponement of the scheduled second race last month at NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana due to severe weather.

Californian Alberico concluded his deal to remain with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing only a few weeks before the start of the Pro Mazda season, but he didn’t allow the lack of preparation to hinder his progress. Alberico, who finished a strong third in his rookie campaign in 2014, romped to a pair of victories on the streets of St. Petersburg to claim the early championship lead. The team struggled for pace at NOLA, where Alberico finished a disappointing sixth in an extremely competitive field, but bounced back two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park to claim a fourth and another race win which allowed him to maintain a slender eight-point lead as the expanded 22-car field heads to Indy. Alberico, in particular, is looking forward to his return to Indianapolis after securing two podium finishes last year.

The next five positions in the points table currently are held by Pro Mazda rookies, headed by the Team Pelfrey pair of Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, from Uruguay, and Patricio “Pato” O’Ward, who hails originally from Monterrey, Mexico, but now is based and attends school in San Antonio, Texas. O‘Ward, incidentally, celebrates his 16th birthday today.

Urrutia, who has competed in Europe for the past four seasons, has been a revelation since switching his attention to North America, winning once at NOLA and adding three more podium finishes. O’Ward, meanwhile, made his debut for the team during last fall’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test, in which he impressed by posting the fastest time.

O’Ward, with three top-five finishes to his name, heads a group of five drivers who are separated by just six points: Frenchmen Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports), who won the 2014 USF2000 championship; Timothe Buret (Juncos Racing), who took a second at Barber; Malaysian Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport), the polesitter at NOLA and winner of Race One at Barber; and Canadian Garett Grist (Juncos Racing), who won twice during his rookie campaign in 2014.

Jose Gutierrez (Juncos Racing), from Monterrey, Mexico, and Daniel Burkett (Cape Motorsports), from Winnipeg, Man., Canada, also have podium finishes to their credit already in what is proving to be an extremely competitive season. Indeed, the level will rise still further for this weekend’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis with the late addition of Scott Hargrove. The talented Canadian, who won the 2013 USF2000 championship and finished a close second in the 2014 Pro Mazda title-chase, including a pair of wins at Indianapolis, had intended to step up this year into Indy Lights, in which he ran well in the first two races in Florida, but has been obliged to reset his sights and now has joined JDC MotorSports for this weekend’s trio of races. An influx of entries for Indianapolis also includes USF2000 race winner Victor Franzoni, who will make his debut with M1 Racing.

The Pro Mazda contingent will begin their weekend with a pair of one-hour promoter test sessions today (May 6), followed by two official practice sessions at 9:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Friday, and the first of three races – the grid for which was set last month at NOLA, prior to the rain-out – at 5:55 p.m. Qualifying for the second race will take place at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, May 8, with the green flag at 2:00 p.m.

The final race will start at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. All times are local. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at promazda.com.
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