Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

INDYCAR Grand Prix: Thursday Notes

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday has come and gone for the 2018 INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and despite all the on track action being devoted to the Mazda Road to Indy, the Verizon IndyCar Series had some news of its own.

Alfonso Celis announced that he would be racing an Indy car for Juncos Racing at Road America. Celis raced at Barber Motorsports Park for Juncos Racing in Indy Lights, finishing seventh and eighth in his two races.

Zachary Claman De Melo will drive for Dale Coyne Racing in the No. 19 Honda for the INDYCAR Grand Prix in place of Pietro Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi is recovering from injuries sustained during the FIAWEC race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. No decision has been made about the No. 19 entry for the Indianapolis 500.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires

With Celis dropping out of the championship there are only seven Indy Lights cars racing this weekend. Six took part in the opening test session with points leader Pato O’Ward quickest over Aaron Telitz, Colton Herta, Victor Franzoni, Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett. Santi Urrutia did not participate in the opening test. Herta was quickest in the second and third sessions of the day. O’Ward was last in the second session but second in the third session. In the final session, the seven cars were covered by .4248 seconds. In fact, the bottom four cars were covered by just over a tenth of a second.

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires

There are 15 cars on the Pro Mazda entry list this weekend but not everyone took part in Thursday testing. Team Pelfrey’s Rafael Martins did not participate in any of the three sessions while Harrison Scott did not run in the second session.

Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunha was quickest in the opening session by .006 seconds over Parker Thompson. Rinus VeeKay was third ahead of David Malukas and Robert Megennis. Malukas was quickest in the second session over VeeKay, Cunha, Thompson and 2017 USF200 champion Oliver Askew. In the final session, Askew was quickest over Thompson, Malukas, Sting Ray Robb and Megennis. In the third session, the top eight drivers were separated by less than three tenths of a second.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda

Kyle Kirkwood stole the show as the Cape Motorsports driver led all three sessions in his Cape Motorsports entry. The first session had DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders in second over Calvin Ming, Darren Keane and Igor Fraga. The top five were covered by just over a quarter of a second while five other drivers did not participate.

Keane, Lucas Kohl, Rasmus Lindh and Jamie Caroline were behind Kirkwood in the second session. The top five were separated by just over 14 hundredths of a second. In the final session, Pabst Racing occupied four of the next five positions with Kohl, Lindh, Ming taking second, third and fourth. Newman Wachs Racing’s Keane was fifth ahead of Pabst’s fourth racer Kaylen Frederick. Noteworthy in seventh was the second St. Petersburg race winner Alex Baron.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.