By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Andretti Autosport teammates Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta found themselves in a familiar place in Saturday’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race – battling amongst themselves for a trip to victory lane.
This time it was O’Ward that took the checkered flag.
O’Ward led wire-to-wire and kept Herta at bay over the final run to the finish to win Cooper Tires Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Race 1. The win was the Mexican’s sixth in 13 races this season, putting him two triumphs ahead of Herta for the most in the field.
It was O’Ward that led the field to green for the 30-lap race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with teammate Ryan Norman joining him on the front row.
For a time it appeared that the duo might finish in the same order. Herta followed right behind Norman in third, but the trip proved unable to complete any overtakes as they distanced themselves from the other four drivers in the field.
The race finally saw a change in storylines on Lap 18 when Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz went off-course for the second time in the race and got stuck in a gravel trap. That allowed his teammate Santi Urrutia to come to pit road for fresh tires, and bunched the field up ahead of a late restart.
When the race went back to green on Lap 21, the short field saw a host of changes. A strong move from Herta elevated the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing star to second and sent Norman free-falling through the field.
Dalton Kellett snuck past Norman to claim third, with Victor Franzoni following for fourth. Urrutia attempted an overtake for fifth, but as he did it Norman mistakenly ran into the inside curbing and careened up the track and into Urrutia’s No. 5 machine.
The contact sent Urrutia into a spin that would drop him to sixth at race’s end, serving the Uruguayan another championship blow as his rivals finished first and second. Norman was forced to the pit lane before finishing one spot ahead of Urrutia in fifth.
As a result of his win, O’Ward inherits a 25-point championship advantage heading into Sunday’s second race at Mid-Ohio. Herta will look to score a victory and close the gap back down. The second-generation driver won four-consecutive races from May through June’s trip to Road America, but has since gone winless in his past five starts.
The Indy Lights field will return for Race 2 on Sunday at 11:05 a.m. ET.
Cooper Tires Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Race 1 Results
- Patricio O’Ward
- Colton Herta
- Dalton Kellett
- Victor Franzoni
- Ryan Norman
- Santi Urrutia
- Aaron Telitz