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Aug 04, 2014 - 02:51 PM
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Costa Wins, Finishes Second for Team Pelfrey at Mid-Ohio Double-Header
Posted by: newsla on Aug 04, 2014 - 02:46 PM
Support Series News
Costa Wins, Finishes Second for Team Pelfrey at Mid-Ohio Double-Header


A banner weekend for Palmetto, Fla.-based Team Pelfrey saw Brazilian driver Nicolas Costa claim a victory and a second-place finish in the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In Wampum, Pa., 140 miles or so to the east, rising Norwegian star Ayla Agren swept both rounds of the F1600 Championship Series in her Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation/Team Pelfrey Mygale-Honda.

 

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“Weekends like this make it all worthwhile,” smiled team patron Dale Pelfrey just a few minutes prior to Sunday afternoon’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio.

Costa first joined the team for a partial campaign in last year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the middle step on the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy which provides a scholarship-funded path from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. After claiming four podium finishes in eight races, Costa rejoined the team midway through the 2014 season. Since then an unbroken streak of five top-five results has allowed him to climb from a distant 15th in the point standings to seventh, moving him within striking distance of a top-three championship position.

Costa’s weekend at Mid-Ohio began inauspiciously when he crashed during a test session on Thursday. The crew rallied to repair the car in time for official practice on Friday, whereupon Costa overcame the lingering effects of a minor ankle injury to post the two fastest times in qualifying and claim pole position for both of the weekend’s two races. Teammates Dalton Kellett and Brandon Newey, who made a welcome return after missing the three most recent races, also turned impressive lap times within a fraction of six-tenths of a second of Costa’s best. They would line up ninth and 11th respectively in the ultra-competitive field for Race One.

Costa led throughout Saturday’s 30-minute race, holding off the attentions of several rivals to score an overdue maiden Pro Mazda victory. Kellett and Newey ran well among a large pack of cars, with Canadian Kellett turning the fourth-fastest lap of the race en route to an eighth-place finish. Newey crossed the line in 10th.

Sunday’s race progressed in similar fashion, except that Costa found himself jostled down to second place at the first turn. The Brazilian kept the pressure on Canadian Garett Grist throughout the race but this time had to be content with second. He posted the fastest race lap, worth an extra championship point, as an additional consolation. Kellett again finished eighth, while Newey ran 10th until making an error at the Carousel turn which dropped him to 13th.

Meanwhile, at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Ayla Agren led teammates Garth Rickards, Augie Lerch and Nikita Lastochkin to an emphatic 1-2-3-4 result for Team Pelfrey on Saturday. The following afternoon she was awarded victory when two other rivals were penalized for excessive blocking after receiving repeated warnings from officials during the race. Agren now holds a 52-point lead over Rickards with four races remaining.

The F1600 series will resume with two races at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut on August 30-31, while the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will be back in action for a single race at the famed Milwaukee Mike oval in West Allis, Wis., on August 16 which will once again be held in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Dalton Kellett (#80 Team Pelfrey/K-Line Insulators USA, Inc./Gap Guard) - Race One, started ninth, finished eighth; Race Two, started sixth, finished eighth: “As usual, Mid-Ohio brought some very tight and competitive racing. I have to thank Team Pelfrey for developing a fast car for me this weekend. In qualifying we were just a couple of tenths from a top-three spot but that small amount of time saw me starting in ninth and sixth in the races. Despite finishing eighth in both events, our competitive pace has me hungry to get to the next race in the K-Line Insulators USA #80.”

Brandon Newey (#81 Team Pelfrey/Mygale North America) - Race One, started 11th, finished 10th; Race Two, started 12th, finished 13th: “I spent the first couple of sessions knocking the rust off. We showed speed in qualifying and ended up 11th in a very tight field but we were happy with our speed. In the second race we showed good pace as well. I just got caught up in a fight a little bit, but all in all I think it was a really good weekend after having a break. I’m really happy with the pace and I think if we can keep it going we’ll be right up there. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car.”

Nicolas Costa (#82 Team Pelfrey/buygapguard.com) - Race One, started first, finished first; Race Two, started first, finished second: “An absolutely wonderful weekend for everybody on the team. We didn’t start so well, we had a crash in practice, a heavy one – actually I hurt my ankle – and the team had to work until midnight to rebuild the car, but the other days everything worked great. We managed to get both pole positions, which was amazing, and the first race win of the weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t get the second win but was a close race with (Garett) Grist. I didn’t manage to get by but I’ll take a second place; it’s not that bad – both pole positions, first place, second place and a fastest lap of the race. It’s the best weekend for us so far and I’m looking forward to the next one. I think we’re getting faster and faster at every race and I hope it continues this way.”

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