Mazda Road to Indy Battles Resume at Indianapolis
 May 9, 2017| 
  • Series News

Aspiring IndyCar Racers Carry Royal Purple Colors in Support of Lupus Foundation

PALMETTO, Fla. – All three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder will return to action this week in the fourth annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Well over 50 competitors will converge upon the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for double-header rounds.

The level of intensity in all three series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will be fierce, and each of the six races will have some additional commonality in being presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil and held in support of the Lupus Foundation of America during Lupus Awareness Month. Every car will carry a decal as a means of raising awareness for this mysterious autoimmune disease, and the #RaceToEndLupus hashtag will be used throughout the event. A special donation page has been set up at lupus.org/racing.

Beginning with the Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America and retroactive to the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, all race winners in the Mazda Road to Indy will be presented with special “rice spoon” (called a skakushi) decals for their cars from Mazda to acknowledge their accomplishments. The rice spoon is a talisman for good luck, victory, business prosperity and a safe household, and the characters on the spoon read “Certain Victory” and “Must Win.”

“The Mazda brand and our entire motorsports program is based on the idea that we ‘Never Stop Challenging,’” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “That determines how we improve our vehicles and how we provide our customers with enjoyment. One way we celebrate Mazda’s heritage is through winning on the race track. Every weekend, our racers come to the track with the hope of achieving ‘certain victory.' These decals for the Mazda Road to Indy and Mazda Road to 24 race winners represent a badge of honor and the virtues of fighting hard for victory.”

At least nine different nationalities will be represented in the USF2000 Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting Lupus Foundation of America, but the man to beat will be 20-year-old American rookie Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports). Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., had competed in only five car race weekends prior to this year but, after staking his claim by winning the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200k Scholarship Shootout last fall, has sprung to prominence by winning three of his first four races. Askew already holds a commanding 34-point lead in the championship as he bids to earn another Mazda Scholarship to assist in the graduation to Pro Mazda in 2018. His team, run by brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape, have won four races in succession at Indianapolis.

Fellow rookies Rinus Veekay (Pabst Racing), from the Netherlands, and 14-year-old Kaylen Frederick (Team Pelfrey), from Potomac, Md., also have impressed during the early part of the season.

Series veteran Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, has joined a new Canadian-based team, Exclusive Autosport, for this year and, after securing a pair of podium finishes so far, hopes to repeat his winning form from Indy one year ago. Teammate Luke Gabin, from Perth, Australia, also claimed a podium finish at Indianapolis in 2016.

The Team Pelfrey pair of Robert Megennis, from New York, N.Y., and Ayla Agren, from Norway, also have shown good pace, along with Dakota Dickerson (Newman Wachs Racing), from San Diego, Calif., plus rookies Calvin Ming (Pabst Racing), from Guyana, and Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), from Warwick, N.Y.

The USF2000 contenders will have two hour-long test sessions on Thursday, May 11, followed by official practice later in the afternoon. A qualifying session at 7:55 a.m. on Friday will set the grid for Race 1 at 2:30 p.m., while a second qualifying session at 11:15 a.m. on Friday will determine the starting order for Race 2 at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday.

Live timing of all Thursday sessions will be available on the respective series websites as well as indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App, with live streaming available on all outlets, including Xbox One, beginning on Friday.

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