By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
MADISON, Illinois — After losing the bonus point for pole to Anthony Martin, Victor Franzoni stormed back to victory at the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The race began with a two car incident between Brendan Puderbach and Jeff Green that saw them spin but not hit any walls. A brief yellow was called but the cars went back to green quickly.
The 55 lap race then became a seesaw battle between Franzoni and Martin as Martin led the first 18 laps but Franzoni was hot on his rear wing through the race until Franzoni got a better run out of Turn 2 on Lap 19 and took the lead on the backstretch.
Franzoni would lead the rest of the way to score his first ever victory on an oval and his fifth win of the season over Martin, Carlos Cunha, TJ Fischer and Jeff Green in the top five. Nikita Lastochkin, Sting Ray Robb, Bobby Eberle and Brendan Puderbach rounded out the field.
For Franzoni, this weekend was almost a throw-away because Juncos Racing wasn’t expecting to win after Martin had the measure of them in practice and qualifying.
“We started to think and we were like okay, let’s take the downforce out so we’ll be fast in the straight but now we need to think in the turns and then we started to watch videos and check data to check what could happen with the car and what we should do and then we made a lot of changes and the changes worked great.”
Franzoni’s bonus points for fastest lap and most laps led give him the two point lead he has over Martin in the standings.
I think those points are more important than the real points, they make all the difference in the end of the year because we’ve been even almost since the first race of the year.”
Martin couldn’t hold back Franzoni and came up 4.69 second short of his sixth victory of the season.
“It was difficult, he just had that little bit more straight line speed than me,” Martin said.
“It was just a little bit hard to stay in front of him, he was able to catch really quickly in the tow so I did what I could. He was able to get further up on me around Turn 1 and we were two wide through there and he was able to make it stick and stick down the back stretch and due to his downforce level, he was able to just pull away a bit down the back straight and get in front of me.”