Road America Indy Lights: Franzoni scores emotional first win
Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni took his first Indy Lights win just a week after his mentor Jeff Green succumbed to injuries in a racing accident, while Colton Herta consolidated his championship lead with second place.
Pato O’Ward of Andretti Autosport made an easy jump into the lead with Santi Urrutia’s Belardi Auto Racing car filing in behind, chased by Franzoni. Herta took his Andretti Steinbrenner car around Aaron Telitz (Belardi) on the run down to Turn 5.
O’Ward had a 1.2sec lead at the end of the first lap but that gap was trimmed under a second next time by and Urrutia then took a wild and late stab down the inside of O’Ward into Turn 5 on Lap 3. He bundled the leader off the track and onto the grass and also broke his own front wing and front suspension. He swerved to the left up the hill to Turn 6 to try and keep Franzoni behind but it didn’t work and the Brazilian grabbed the lead.
Urrutia limped to the pits, as O’Ward’s lost momentum put him under immediate threat from Herta. The defensive lines O’Ward had to take allowed Franzoni to eke out his advantage to 3.4sec, but Herta finally got around O’Ward into Turn 5 on Lap 7. By then, however, Franzoni’s lead was out to 4sec, and even with a clear run at the leader, Herta found himself slip a further couple of tenths behind.
In fact, Herta had nothing for the leader and he was content to consolidate his championship lead by edging away from O’Ward. With three laps to go, his title cause was further helped by Telitz who passed O’Ward down into Turn 5 to claim third place.
Franzoni’s eventual winning margin over Herta was 8.9sec, with Telitz finishing 4.5 behind the ASR machine, and O’Ward beating Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman by 2sec.
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