By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
SPEEDWAY, Indiana- After earning his first Indy Lights victory at Barber Motorsports Park, Andretti Autosport driver Nico Jamin scored his second Indy Lights win of 2017 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Friday afternoon.
Starting on pole, Jamin was able to keep ahead at the start and hold off teammate Colton Herta early in the race before managing a closing gap to Zachary Claman De Melo late in the going.
For Claman De Melo, the start was abysmal. He fell from second to sixth as Kyle Kaiser, Herta, Aaron Telitz among others got around him. Herta had the first shot at Jamin but was unable to complete the move, and after contact with another driver, Herta had to stop when his right rear tire was punctured.
Claman De Melo then had to get around Kaiser before he was able to charge after Jamin but wasn’t able to get the job done as Jamin held on to win. Kaiser finished third ahead of Alberico and Matheus Leist.
For the rest of the field, it was a mixed bag of results. Herta finished 12th and was able to keep his points lead but it shrank quite heavily as Jamin and Kaiser both gained numerous points.
For Jamin, this was his third win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after sweeping the USF2000 races on the road course in 2015.
“It’s amazing, it’s a very unique feeling, every time you enter the Speedway you’re like ‘Wow!’ it gives you chills, it’s just an amazing feeling. Having the chance to win here today, Andretti gave me a great car, put it on pole and I had the pace to win the race. I’m very fortunate today, I’m extremely happy,” Jamin said.
Claman De Melo’s bad start enabled much of the chaos but he was quick to explain what happened.
“I made a mistake on the start, Nico just got a really good jump, he was going quite slow and I wasn’t expecting him to go when he did and I kind of missed out on it and then as I dropped back, the goal was just to pick off everyone one by one and get back as high as I could,” Claman De Melo said.
His car didn’t drop off when others did, enabling him to make up ground for the bad start he had.
“We had really good race pace, the car was really good and didn’t drop off, the first few cars at the beginning were a bit difficult to pass and then eventually I got settled in and pressured a few of them into mistakes so those were kind of easy passes and at the end everyone dropped off and they defended and I had a good car and I was fast enough to get around them so it wasn’t too difficult.”
Kaiser was second during the middle section of the race
“I think we had the car to put it on pole, I think that would’ve helped a lot but it’s tough to race forward,” Kaiser said.
“We had a great start, I was pretty stoked on the start. I mean, my goal was to get to the inside and I knew it would be tough but the second I saw Jamin go, I just tried to duck in right behind him because I think Neil [Alberico] wasn’t ready for Jamin to go, so luckily I got a good jump and I just slotted right behind Jamin so that was really nice,” Kaiser added.
Indy Lights Standings
Colton Herta 110
Nico Jamin 107
Kyle Kaiser 107
Aaron Telitz 89
Neil Alberico 88