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Jul 21, 2015 - 12:20 PM
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Another Podium Finish for O'Ward, Team Pelfrey on Iowa Oval
Posted by: newsla on Jul 21, 2015 - 12:17 PM
Tidbits
Another Podium Finish for O'Ward, Team Pelfrey on Iowa Oval


The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires hosted the 12th round of its 16-race season last Saturday at the fast and hectic 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval, where Team Pelfrey’s teenaged Mexican standout Pato O’Ward continued his prodigious form by earning a third consecutive podium finish. Uruguayan teammate Santi Urrutia also displayed excellent pace as he qualified second and held that position through the early stages before slipping back to fifth. Englishman Raoul Owens finished 12th.

 
The team picked up speed throughout the three practice sessions on Thursday evening and Friday, then found a significant gain for the all-important single-car qualifying session on Saturday when Urrutia qualified on the outside of the front row of the grid. His combined two-lap time of 45.1635 seconds, an average speed of 142.522 mph, was a mere 0.0195 adrift of polesitter Weiron Tan. O’Ward also picked up time in comparison to the front-runners, earning sixth in the starting lineup, while Owens qualified 10th.

The 100-lap race, held in brutally hot and humid conditions on Saturday afternoon, began with Urrutia settling into second place and O’Ward quickly making his way to fourth. Owens was involved in a hectic scrap a little farther back in the field.

After a brief full-course caution, O’Ward made up another place at the restart on Lap 26 but initially couldn’t quite match the pace set by Urrutia or the race leader, Tan, who pulled away to an uncontested victory. O’Ward edged closer again to his Team Pelfrey stablemate as the race pushed past half-distance, when Tan’s teammate, Dalton Kellett, also worked his way into contention. Kellett eventually slipped past both to take second, while O’Ward finally overtook Urrutia on Lap 85 to continue his podium streak. Urrutia also lost a position to Daniel Burkett but held onto fifth to maintain a 27-point championship lead as the series heads back to the road courses for the final four races of the season.

Owens continued his steep learning curve on the ovals to finish 12th.

The Pro Mazda contestants will move next to the undulating Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for two more races on August 1-2. Team Pelfrey’s regular drivers in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – Ayla Agren, Luke Gabin, Garth Rickards and Nikita Lastochkin – also will return to action at Mid-Ohio for no fewer than three races as all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy, including Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, will run in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Raoul Owens (#80 Team Pelfrey/Brightspark Ventures Pro Mazda) - started 10th, finished 12th: “This weekend wasn't the best for me. I struggled to get to grips with the track and lost some valuable track time on Friday after a brush with the wall. Qualifying highlighted my loss of laps in the practice session and I only ended 13th. The race was again not my best for this season. I had some back pain during the race and along with the intense heat made it very difficult. A finish of 12th certainly wasn't a good result for me and I'll be working extra hard to get a better result at Mid-Ohio!”

Santiago “Santi” Urrutia (#81 Team Pelfrey/Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol Pro Mazda) - started second, finished fifth: “Overall it was a positive weekend for the championship, but we could maybe have got more out of the end result after running second for most of the race. Anyway, sometimes this is what happens in racing and I gained a lot of experience on a fast oval which will no doubt prepare me well for the future. For now, the full focus is on Mid-Ohio where we have to continue to maximize our results. Once again, a big thanks to my sponsors, fans and family for all of their support.”

Patricio “Pato” O’Ward (#82 Team Pelfrey/Octane Energy Drink/POW Motorsports Pro Mazda) - started sixth, finished third: “The weekend started off not so good being around 10th place in both practice sessions on Friday. In qualifying I knew I had a fast car but for some reason we ended up qualifying ninth. After some penalties were issued after qualifying I started from sixth place and I tried to make up positions in the opening laps. I got up to fourth place at the start and right after the safety car I moved up to third. Then Dalton was coming from behind really strong and he passed me and my teammate so that would put me in fourth place. Later I passed Santi for third and was able to keep that position until the end. We still have to keep working hard so we can finish the last four races of the season with strong results.”

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