Jones leads Serralles to Carlin 1-2 at Barber

Ed Jones started the first Indy Lights race from pole and led throughout, but surely never expected his prime rival to be his own teammate, given that Felix Serralles started on the sixth row of the grid.

Jones leads Serralles to Carlin 1-2 at Barber
Felix Serralles, Carlin
Felix Serralles, Carlin
Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
Felix Serralles, Carlin
Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
Shelby Blackstock, Andretti Autosport

But that is exactly how the race played out, following a chaotic start as Dean Stoneman’s third-placed Andretti Autosport car faltered as the field came to the green.

More top runners would fall away when Santiago Urrutia’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsport entry flicked Belardi’s Felix Rosenqvist into a sandtrap at Turn 1. The front wing damage and the drive-through penalty were inevitable.

That left another SPM car in second, that of RC Enerson, but he would fall victim following the lap 7 restart. He and Team Pelfrey’s Scott Hargrove, up from 10th on the grid, went hard at it and it was very entertaining, right up until Hargrove squeezed Enerson off the track at the tricky Turn 5 exit. Hargrove too would serve a drive-through penalty.

That left Serralles in an unexpected second place, and he went hard after teammate Jones. However, Serralles’ driving was far scruffier than Jones’ with more locked wheels, heavier use of curbs and more dust kicking up on corner exits.

Although the Puerto Rico-born American carried vastly more speed through Turns 12, 13 and the entry to 14, he couldn’t stay close enough in the #11 car’s dirty air through the crucial exit of 14 and final turn 15, and was never closer than half a second behind at the start-finish line.

More little errors in the final five laps of the 35-lap race spelt the end of Serralles’ challenge and he settled for second, easing back just far enough to stay out of reach of Belardi’s Zach Veach. Jones thus made it four different winners in the first four races of the 2016 Indy Lights season.

Veach held off Andretti’s Shelby Blackstock throughout, but rarely looked under severe threat on this sinuous course. Afterward Veach described the car as “the most evil he’d ever driven.”

Championship leader, Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing had stayed out of trouble and was running fifth, some way off the pace of the top quartet, but on lap 26 he retired due to mechanical failure.

That let teammate Zachary Claman De Melo into fifth, ahead of Enerson who had kept going having been pushed off the track, but was in no shape to beat the Juncos cars.

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Urrutia scores first Indy Lights win in brilliant fashion

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