Franzoni Comes from Ninth to Sixth in 'Day Before the 500'
 May 27, 2015| 
  • Team News
BROWNSBURG, Ind. — M1 Racing and its rookie driver, Victor Franzoni, continued to impress the railbirds as Franzoni came from the ninth starting position to finish sixth Saturday afternoon in the "Day Before the 500," the first oval race of the year in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

It was only the second Pro Mazda event ever for the young driver from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he and his Dallas-based team consistently improved throughout the event despite the fact that the team didn't test here and Franzoni's tire budget is much smaller than his rivals'. That wasn't lost on the officials, who presented Franzoni with the Staubli award for his performance.

It was also a great showing for the sponsors of the white #21, which include Auto Enginuity, Novac Sports and Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Centers.

Weiron Tan led all 90 laps of the race from the pole, but towards the end of the race Franzoni was posting lap times that were close to those being posted by Tan at the time. Although Franzoni's car was oversteering, that set-up allowed him to run the high groove towards the end of the race when other drivers could not.

Franzoni was also able to avoid a three-car crash between Turns 3 and 4 on lap 28 that brought out the race's only caution flag from laps 29 to 37. But the real highlight of the race was the way he pounced on the competition ahead of him on the restart, bravely running three wide at times to go from ninth to sixth shortly after the restart. He was very close to third, fourth and fifth positions around lap 60, and near the end he had a big battle with the driver who was running fifth, Florian Latorre. They ran side-by-side for several laps before Franzoni passed him, but Jose Gutierrez got by later to push him back to sixth at the checkered.

"Our car was oversteering a lot, but the race was good," Franzoni said afterwards. "P6 isn't bad, and we didn't crash. It was my first time in a Pro Mazda car on an oval, and it was a good learning experience.

"The big crash happened in front of me, but I saw it and I was able to brake; I had time to slow down.

"On ovals everybody is hard to pass, but on the restart things cooled down and I saw my chance and I took it."

A USF2000 race and a 100-lap USAC Silver Crown race preceded the Pro Mazda race. With that tire residue added to the 0.686-mile asphalt oval from those races and temperatures in the high seventies, the track conditions were slippery.

"The track was very difficult really; it was very slippery," Franzoni said. "But it was the same for everybody."

The next Pro Mazda event is a doubleheader on a 1.755-mile street course in Toronto, Ontario on June 12-14.

"I got fourth in the F2000 race at Toronto last year, which was pretty good," Franzoni said.

"We're going to do better than that this year," M1 Racing's engineer, Remi Lanteigne, who is from Toronto, advised his young student.

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