By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Anthony Martin won his fourth straight race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as he picked up the victory in the first of three races this weekend in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
Martin took the lead from polesitter Carlos Cunha on the first green flag lap after an aborted start as Franzoni slotted into second place. Both drivers would trade fastest laps back and forth until Martin was able to gap Franzoni during the middle part of the race.
As the race wound down to its conclusion, Franzoni would set the race’s fastest lap and close on Martin but Martin would barely hold on at the end of the race to win.
Further behind, Cunha would be penalized for avoidable contact and would finish fourth behind his Team Pelfrey teammate TJ Fischer. Fischer would score his fifth podium of the year behind Martin and Franzoni.
Martin’s victory continued a Mid-Ohio victory streak stretching back to last year’s USF2000 triple header weekend. His victory reduced Franzoni’s points lead to three points and makes the championship battle closer with only five races to go in the 2017 season. Keeping Franzoni in second place was very difficult.
“It was really tough,” Martin said. “The track has changed a lot so to stay on top of the car and get the best feeling out of the car was quite difficult. I was using all the tools in the car to get the most out of it though each corner and I think I did the best I could to keep it as solid as I can through the corners and as fast as I can to keep Victor behind me. Victor had really good pace so we’ve got some work to do to get some pace out of it,” Martin added.
Franzoni’s second place means that he’s only finished first or second in every race this season
“The race was good for me,” Franzoni said. “We improved a lot, qualifying was really bad. The car was not good and we made a great car for the race, but here qualifying is everything. Even if I think I was faster and the car was really good, I just couldn’t keep close enough to try something but it was good. I’m happy that we improved the car, we’re really looking forward to tomorrow,” Franzoni added.
Pro Mazda has two more races this weekend before a single race on the oval at Gateway Motorsports Park and a double header finale weekend at Watkins Glen International.