By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
MONTEREY, Calif. – Nicolas Dapero took his first career Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires win in the second of a three race tripleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The 18-year-old Argentinian inherited the lead when championship combatants and Team Pelfrey teammates Aaron Telitz and Pato O’Ward made contact in the Andretti Hairpin. Telitz started on pole and led the field to green. As they headed down to Turn 1, O’Ward charged to the outside of his teammate before the duo made contact at the exit, sending O’Ward’s No. 80 Team Pelfrey Mazda into a 360-degree spin.
The 17-year-old Mexican was forced to pit with a bent left-rear toe, going down three laps and ending up with a 10th-place finish.
Telitz was forced to serve a drive-thru penalty on lap 4 for avoidable contact, thus giving Dapero the lead.
The fight for second became the a four-way battle as TJ Fischer, Jake Parsons, Will Owen and Nico Jamin all ran nose to tail for the better part of 10 laps.
On lap 11, Parsons attempted his move around Fischer at the Corkscrew, the two made contact and Parsons was sent backwards into the tire barrier. The pair ended up finishing 11th and 12th.
The restart came on lap 16 with Telitz having charged up to sixth and battling Moises de la Vara for fifth, locking up at the entry of the Corkscrew but finally getting around the Mexican on the frontstraight.
Dapero overshot the last corner, but in the end it wasn’t enough for Owen to close as he won by 0.4456 of a second.
“I’m so happy, it’s my first win the U.S,” said the 18-year-old Argentine. “There are more to come and winning (one of) the last races of the championship is good for me. I was fighting with the championship contenders so I know I’m in a good spot this weekend.”
Telitz now leads O’Ward 389-378 with the final race to decide it all set for this afternoon at 7:25 p.m. ET on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.