This afternoon, all three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy kicked off their 2017 seasons on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Robert Megennis lead the early charge in USF2000, after qualifying on the pole for race 1 yesterday afternoon. Megennis jumped out to an early advantage over the rest of the field, as Calvin Ming and Dakota Dickerson passed Mazda scholarship driver Oliver Askew for P2 and P3. Askew didn’t wait long to reclaim the positions however, and by lap 13 found himself chasing Megennis for the lead.
Despite negating a three-second deficit in six laps, Askew didn’t have quite enough in the tank to take the win. Leading from flag-to-flag, Megennis claimed the first win of the Tatuus USF-17 era.
In race 2, Parker Thompson started from the pole and was able to hold onto the lead at the start. A full-course caution after lap five for Andre Castro brought the field back together. On the restart, Oliver Askew was able to duck to Thompson’s inside and snag the lead. The scholarship winner held on and claimed his maiden USF2000 win.
Pro Mazda only had one show today, with 2016 USF2000 champ Anthony Martin taking the checkered. Despite qualifying on the pole and leading flag-to-flag, the Australian was under constant pressure from Victor Franzoni and only won by 0.5 seconds.
The Team Pelfrey teammates of Tj Fischer and rookie Carlos Cunha found themselves in a race long battle for third, with their teammate Nikita Lastochkin rounding out the top five after a battle with Phillipe Denes.
Following the weekend-tradition of scholarship drivers winning races, Aaron Telitz also claimed his first win of the 2017 season today. The 2016 Pro Mazda champion drove a flawless race from green to checkered to claim his maiden Indy Lights win. Avoiding a multi-car wreck in Turn 1 on the opening lap, Telitz finished with a comfortable 11-second lead.
Also making his Lights debut was Colton Herta, son of retired racer and IndyCar team owner Bryan Herta. Colton raced to a second place finish in his debut, followed by Neil Alberico.
Pro Mazda and Indy Lights will return tomorrow, Sunday March 12, for their second and final races of the weekend.