(Updated with Pro Mazda and USF2000 results)
PORTLAND, Oregon – Patricio O’Ward put an exclamation point on his 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship, claiming the win Sunday to sweep the weekend in a wild season finale at Portland International Raceway.
The pilot of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Mazda/Dallara IL-15 was forced to start the race from the back row (seventh) after a crash in qualifying. Fortune came early for O’Ward after an action-packed start.
Pole sitter Ryan Norman (No. 48 Andretti Autosport) led the field to green as the field went six-wide entering the Turn 1 chicane. A collision among the gaggle sent Colton Herta (No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) spinning in the runoff area, while misfortune struck a pair of his teammates. Dalton Kellett (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) suffered front wing damage after blowing through Turn 1 and tearing through runoff signage. Norman was forced to retire due to issues with the front suspension. Herta managed to gather it back up and finish fourth.
“I think (Victor) Franzoni was the one that originally hit me, but there are a good amount of people that out-broke themselves and just tried to go in (to Turn 1) so deep,” Norman said.
“It was kind of an immature (and) unprofessional thing to do. It’s the last race of the season. I understand they want to get a race win, but I thought we had a chance to win this race; sadly not. I guess we’ll just come back next year stronger and go for the championship.”
Aaron Telitz (No. 9 Belardi Auto Racing) came through the carnage with the lead, but it lasted only eight laps until teammate Santi Urrutia (No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing) made an opportune pass entering Turn 9. O’Ward followed through moments later and then put Urrutia under heavy attack.
On Lap 18, O’Ward swerved inside to outside, before making a diving move for the lead entering Turn 1. Securing the top spot, he set sail on the field to lead the rest of the way in 35-lap race. O’Ward claimed his ninth win of the year by 7.855 seconds.
“I knew I had the fastest car, so I had to pick them off one by one,” O’Ward said. “Santi was making it hard, man. He was making it so hard for me to get by. I faked him out a little bit, stuck the nose in and that was it. We were far ahead in the end.”
Telitz passed teammate Urrutia with 10 laps to go secure his second runner-up finish of the season. Urrutia hung on to collect the final podium spot in third.
The Portland weekend recap from Indy Lights, the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, will air on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET Monday.
Malukas dominates Pro Mazda finale
David Malukas put on a dominating performance to win the season finale of the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires season at Portland International Raceway.
Starting second, the No. 79 BN Racing Mazda/Tatuus PM-18 driver got the better of pole sitter Rinus VeeKay (No. 2 Juncos Racing) at the start, coming out on top of a three-wide battle with Parker Thompson (No. 90 Exclusive Autosport) entering Turn 1.
With the benefit of clean air, Malukas pulled away from the field, led all 30 laps and finished 3.5821 seconds ahead of VeeKay – who was crowned the Pro Mazda champion the day before – to score his third career victory on the second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program. Oliver Askew (No. 3 Cape Motorsports) finished third.
“For today, we really wanted to end strong and we knew we had the pace on the start,” Malukas said. “That’s when we’ve always been good. So from there on, I just kept my head down and tried making no mistakes.”
Kirkwood ties USF2000 season wins record
Kyle Kirkwood capped his title-winning campaign in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda with a record-tying victory in the season finale at Portland International Raceway.
The 19-year-old Floridian started third in the No. 8 Cape Motorsports Mazda/Tatuus USF-17 after a two-spot grid penalty negated his pole run in qualifying. He found the lead by Lap 7 of 25 and went on to collect his 12th victory on the year. It tied JR Hildebrand’s 12-year-old record for most USF2000 wins in a season.
“It feels amazing,” Kirkwood said. “We came into this weekend knowing we could get it done, get those 12 wins total (and) tie JR Hildebrand, which is a huge feat just to amount to somebody with that big of a name here in motorsports. Even if we didn’t get it, nothing could take away from this season. We would still leave here with all smiles, no matter what happened today. It’s just icing on the cake to take those 12 wins, match JR Hildebrand’s record and leave this weekend on a high note.”
Pole sitter Rasmus Lindh (No. 23 Pabst Racing) scored a career-best runner-up result, 1.9824 seconds behind the race winner. Julian Van der Watt (No. 80 Team Pelfrey) also clinched a career-best finish after crossing the finish line third, the first Team Pelfrey podium of the year in the last race.
Kirkwood’s name now etched in the history books of the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy, he credited team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape and the rest of the crew members.
“I’ve got to give it all to the Capes,” he added. “Yeah, I did some of it, but they’re the ones doing all of the hard work and putting in the most effort. … They should stamp a Cape Motorsports name next to mine with those 12 wins.”