By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Santiago Urrutia has had a roller coaster of an Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season full of happiness, frustration and every emotion except for victory until Saturday’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Urrutia claimed his first Indy Lights victory of the season at the 2.258 mile road course and his fourth at the track in five races, counting his previous starts in Indy Lights and in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
Urrutia started on pole ahead of Colton Herta but Herta found himself in third place after teammate Nico Jamin went by into second.
Jamin and Herta fought until Herta finally got the upper hand over the Frenchman.
After that, the American clawed away at Urrutia’s lead but could not find a way past, running out of his push to pass boost when he was on Lap 12 of 30. Jamin finished behind Urrutia and Herta while Shelby Blackstock finished fourth ahead of Zachary Claman De Melo in fifth.
Meanwhile, points leader Kyle Kaiser had a race he would very much like to forget, dropping all the way back to 13th in a 14 car field. The Californian would finish 12 after Juncos Racing’s Nicolas Dapero dropped out with a mechanical failure with a handful of laps to go. Kaiser’s only saving grace was that Matheus Leist finished 11th, Leist having won several races this season but had a less than ideal weekend at Toronto.
Urrutia was clearly relieved after his victory and has only one goal: winning the final races left in the championship.
“I think my key is winning the next three races and then I have to wait for the other drivers to make mistakes and that’s it,” Urrutia said.
“But if I win the next three races, there’s nothing else I can do. I know it’s difficult but this is racing, everything can happen.
“What happened to me at Toronto race two that the engine stopped working, it can happen to Kaiser in the next three races too. So, let’s see. There’s not only Kaiser in the championship, there’s three or four drivers working and fighting for the championship so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Herta wasn’t able to get passed Urrutia but did accomplish one major thing during the race: learning what to do in slippery conditions.
“I think the track actually helped me because it was super slippery at the beginning and I kind of learned what to do before everybody else and that’s how I caught Santi in the beginning,” Herta said.
“I kind of got to him, wasn’t really gaining anything but yeah, in the end it’s a good day and I hope to repeat it tomorrow and do one better.”
Jamin’s car had a lot of understeer that he wanted to have taken out but was satisfied with another podium finish.
“Overall pretty good, I knew starting third I had to make it happen on the first lap,” Jamin said.
“I made a pretty aggressive on Colton on the outside of Turn 2, almost touched in Turn 1 as well so it was a little bit hairy but it was fun and then from then on I was just struggling a lot with the tires on the first few laps, very slippery out there and then Colton passed me because I was out of power for a few seconds.”