By Road to Indy
Victor Franzoni ensured a banner weekend for himself and the Juncos Racing team by sweeping both races that comprised the Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting Lupus Foundation of America on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Grand Prix road course. Franzoni, from Sao Palo, Brazil, was never seriously threatened this morning in cool and sunny conditions, finishing a full 1.0798 seconds clear of Team Pelfrey’s TJ Fischer.
Fischer’s teammate, Carlos Cunha, from Campinas, Brazil, finished a comfortable third ahead of Australian’s Anthony Martin (Cape Motorsports), who had led the point standings coming into this weekend after sweeping both races at St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.
Franzoni set the tone yesterday morning by annexing the bonus point for pole position in qualifying. And whereas on Friday he made a poor start and had to work his way back to the front, this time there was not the hint of a mistake as he maintained his advantage into Turn One, then romped clear of the field at a prodigious rate.
After finishing third in each of the first three races of the season, Fischer, from Los Angeles, Calif., exited the tight first corner in the same position he had started, second, and soon began to edge clear of teammate Cunha to secure a career-best finish.
Cunha, similarly, was under no real threat from Martin, who instead was kept honest by the third Team Pelfrey car of Nikita Lastochkin. The Australian managed to reduce a deficit of over three seconds to Cunha to around 1.2 seconds between Laps 11 and 16, but that was as close as he got before Cunha edged clear once more to secure his first podium finish.
The World Speed Motorsports trio of Phillippe Denes, from Carmel, Calif., Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, and Bobby Eberle, from Houston, Texas, completed the top seven ahead of SCCA National Formula Mazda Champion Matt Machiko (ArmsUp Motorsports), from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Kevin Davis, from Alvin, Ill., strengthened his lead in the National Class by winning the division with a 10th-place overall finish, despite being earlier punted into a spin at Turn One by fellow Illinois racer Jeff Green (Team Pelfrey). Davis also earned the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award.
Ricardo Juncos of Juncos Racing, based close to the race track in Speedway, Ind., earned another PFC Award as the winning car owner, while Cunha claimed the Staubli Award.
Franzoni’s second win in as many days vaulted him to the lead of the 12-round Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, which will offer a Mazda Scholarship worth over $790,000 to assist the champion in progressing to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018.
Franzoni now holds a 116-110 edge over Martin as all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights – head next to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for two more races once again in support of the headlining Verizon IndyCar Series on June 23-25.
Victor Franzoni (#23 Juncos Racing): “It was a perfect weekend. I knew the Juncos team would have a really good setup here so it was important for us to be ready – and it was the best car ever. It was a machine; it was so easy to drive. All I had to do was focus and drive fast. I had a much better start today than yesterday and was happy to keep the lead at the start – with the long straight, it’s so easy to draft on someone. I am so happy to get the win. This happened at the end of last year in USF2000 where I had a perfect weekend, and now to get it here means so much. I so appreciate the opportunity Juncos has given me, and the car they gave me today. I hope we can keep this going. We’ll work really hard to do that and I hope next year I can be with them on the next step!”
TJ Fischer (#82 Project 02-Team Pelfrey): “We didn’t have the headwind that we had yesterday so we didn’t get swallowed up by the field at the start this time. It was my first front row start on the Mazda Road to Indy and I hated getting swallowed up like that. I wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again so when Anthony got behind me and gave me a push, we went into Turn 1 hard but Victor was on rails today. I know that if we keep our heads down and keep packing on the points, we’ll have a race like that.”