LEXINGTON, Ohio — Victor Franzoni took advantage of a lapped traffic slip-up by Anthony Martin to get the lead with mere minutes remaining in Saturday’s Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to win and extend his slim points lead.
Martin led the race from pole but Franzoni was not far behind. The pair then gapped the field so much that the lead was over 20 seconds to third place. However, everything changed as the leaders approached Franzoni’s Juncos Racing teammate Jeff Green.
Green got loose in the carousel, pushing Martin wide and allowing Franzoni through before Green spun in the final corner. A full course yellow was called and it culminated in a one lap shootout for the victory.
Franzoni was able to clear any challenge from Martin for his first win of the weekend, stretching his lead to a mere 5 points. Carlos Cunha finished third over Team Pelfrey teammates TJ Fischer and Nikita Lastochkin.
Franzoni explained his side of the incident after taking the win.
“I saw Jeff’s car moving a lot,” said Franzoni.
“I don’t know if he broke something or what happened. Then I saw him go outside and then I was behind him and I could see what was happening and then I just went inside and it worked.
“So that was good.”
Franzoni and Martin have had a friendly rivalry, but the Brazilian believes that all changed at Road America when Martin aggressively defended the lead in the second race of the weekend.
“It was not so clean since Road America,” Franzoni added. “That changed a little bit, but we’re just racing for the championship. It’s a big amount of money at the end of the year so we have to win. I understand his part, I understand my part, we are here to win so we have to do what we have to do.”
Martin was less than pleased with the issue with Green and Franzoni but will have another opportunity Sunday to win.
“I set the fastest lap, I led the most laps, I was looking good to go take the checkered flag there but to get taken out by Victor’s teammate is not the way you want it to end,” Martin said.
“Unfortunately those things happen and that is racing, but I think there’s going to be a bit more investigation going into that because those things shouldn’t happen.
“I’m not that far behind. It’s definitely not over. It just sucks that that happened but we’ll come back stronger than ever for tomorrow’s race.”
Pro Mazda has their final race of the weekend Sunday morning. They then have a race at Gateway Motorsports Park and two races at Watkins Glen.