Toronto Indy Lights: O’Ward wins incident-filled race
You might not think a grid of seven cars could accrue so many incidents, but somehow the first Indy Lights race of the weekend at Toronto got thoroughly jumbled by a string of events and drizzle.
Even before the start, polesitter Colton Herta in the Andretti Steinbrenner car was at a disadvantage around the bumpy street course, nursing an injured thumb that had needed splint and heavy gauge tape to make the race survivable.
Then his issues were compounded at the start when Santi Urrutia’s Belardi car ran into him hard enough to jack his rear wheels up, just as he was trying to put the power down. He immediately fell to fourth, as his chief championship rival and Andretti Autosport teammate Pato O’Ward pulled away to an uncontested lead chased by the second Belardi car of Aaron Telitz and Ryan Norman in a third Andretti car.
Herta took a couple of laps to find his way past Norman and longer still to get past Telitz. But he then whittled O’Ward’s advantage from 2.4sec down to 1.4sec, when, on the 23rd of 35 laps, he bounced off the Turn 5 curb, lost his grip on the steering wheel and bounced into the outside wall.
Urrutia, who having lost momentum in his collision at the start, then made a great recovery drive despite a damaged nosecone and under caution while Herta’s car was removed, he was able to move onto the tail of teammate Telitz. When the green flag flew Urrutia constantly hounded the other Belardi car but in sweeping around him from the outside line at Turn 3, he knocked off Telitz’s front wing, necessitating a wing change.
Then as drizzle started to fall, he closed up on the leader O’Ward, but spun at Turn 8, somehow avoiding contact with the wall, but allowing Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni through to second and Norman into third.
Urrutia had just passed Norman when Franzoni ‘did a Herta’ bouncing off the curb at Turn 5 and sliding into the wall. The caution that then flew stayed out to the end, with O’Ward collecting his fifth win of the season and moving ahead of Herta in the championship.
Franzoni thus gifted Urrutia second place, with Norman scoring his second podium finish of the year, and Telitz recovering to fourth having pitted for a new front wing. Dalton Kellett, despite ramming a tire barrier and falling a lap down, was thus classified fifth.