MRTI – St. Pete Qualifications Summary

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As Mr. Bob Varsha is famous for saying during the Formula 1 broadcasts on SpeedTV, “Before you can race, you must qualify!” As of this morning, all three of the Mazda Road to Indy series have qualified for their respective races on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The USF2000 National Championship and the Star Mazda Championship both qualified yesterday afternoon, and the Firestone Indy Lights series just finished their qualifying session this morning. Let’s take a look at the results series-by-series.

Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda

Although not quite as large of a field as we saw at Sebring, we still see a 32-car grid take the green flag later today for Race #1. During morning practice, we saw a resumption of the close battle between Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham. P1 and P2 were theirs and theirs alone as they swapped fast times back and forth. Qualifying yesterday afternoon was no different, and Spencer found himself on pole being just a tick faster, a meager 0.002 seconds, than Matthew.

“It was a difficult session. With all the traffic out there, it was difficult to get a clear lap. I only had one really, and I was just barely able to take the pole. I am really happy with that, with the car and the way the team has been working with me so far this year. This is the best place to be starting and I am looking forward to the race.” — Spencer Pigot, #2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing

Here are your first three rows for Race #1

Pos Class Car No. Driver Team Best Time Diff
1 CHP 2 Spencer Pigot Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 1:13.284
2 CHP 83 Matthew Brabham Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 1:13.286 0.002
3 CHP 19 Neil Alberico JDC MotorSports 1:13.633 0.349
4 CHP 56 Matthew DiLeo MDL Racing 1:13.774 0.490
5 CHP 17 Timmy Megenbier Afterburner Autosport 1:13.819 0.535
6 CHP 15 Luigi Biangardi ArmsUp Motorsports 1:13.895 0.611

It’s great to see Timmy Megenbier back and competitive after his very hard shunt on Thursday in Turn 5. Race #1 starts at 12:10pm EDT today, and you can follow along at http://usf2000.com/Multimedia/Live.aspx.

Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear

Juncos Racing after winning the Star Mazda Championship in 2010 with Conor Daly, languished a bit in 2011. They were quick to be sure, but they weren’t championship contenders. That looks like it may have changed as their two recently signed pilots, Connor De Phillippi and Matthew Scuncio, locked out the front row for Race #1 later today.

“Juncos Racing is a tremendously professional team and they’ve given me a great car every time I hit the track. We were immediately faster in qualifying than we were in practice and we just kept chipping away, a couple of tenths here, a couple there, and given how small the split was between me and my teammate Martin Scuncio, it’s a good thing we did. It’s going to be a highly competitive race tomorrow, and again on Sunday, and we’re just keeping our heads down and focusing on the job at hand… winning.” –Connor De Phillippi, #22 Juncos Racing

Last year’s surprising rookie team, Team Pelfrey, has picked up right where they left off in 2011 and locked out Row 2 with Jack Hawksworth taking P3 and his teammate and 2011 USF2000 Champion Petri Suvanto taking P4. The real surprise of the afternoon was Andretti Autosport’s anticipated championship challenger, Sage Karam, did not set a qualifying time and will start at the back of the 22-car grid.

Pos No. Name Team Best Tm Diff Sponsor
1 2 Connor De Philippi Juncos Racing 01:10.4 ModSpace Racing / One24
2 22 Martin Scuncio Juncos Racing 01:10.4 0.01 Pullman Bus
3 82 Jack Hawksworth Team Pelfrey 01:10.6 0.18 TORGOEN Swiss Watches/ EXA Networks
4 81 Petri Suvanto Team Pelfrey 01:10.6 0.23 Mazda Road to Indy / RKM Building
5 19 Gabby Chaves JDC MotorSports 01:10.8 0.37 OMP
6 9 Juan Piedrahita JDC MotorSports 01:10.8 0.42 Petrosur / GFK Motors

The Star Mazda Race #1 starts at 1:00pm EDT this afternoon, and you can follow along with live timing and scoring at http://www.starmazda.com/timing/.

Firestone Indy Lights

This morning, the Firestone Indy Lights series qualified for their first race of the 2011 season which will take place later this afternoon. There were no genuine surprises. Sam Schmidt Motorsports dominated the session taking P1, P2, P3, and P5. Andretti Autosport’s Sebastian Saavedra was the only interloper in the top-five qualifying on Row 2 in P4. The pole position was taken by the 2011 Star Mazda Champion, Tristan Vautier.

“I had a great setup on the car, but the nerves, man. There were two laps to go and I couldn’t make a mistake. But it was good. The Schmidt guys gave me a great car and big thanks to Mazda for allowing me to be there, and looking forward to the race. I have a lot of work ahead of me now. It’s going to be a long race, my first race in FIL, so I’m going to try to make the most of it.” — Tristan Vautier, #77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports

Rank Car Driver Time Diff Gap
1 77 Vautier, Tristan 01:06.5 97.51 –.—-
2 11 Guerrieri, Esteban 01:06.6 97.25 0.1776
3 7 Webb, Oliver 01:06.6 97.243 0.182
4 27 Saavedra, Sebastian 01:06.8 96.991 0.3556
5 3 Carbone, Victor 01:06.9 96.831 0.4658
6 2 Yacaman, Gustavo 01:06.9 96.824 0.4705

The Firestone Indy Lights St. Petersburg 100 takes the green flag at 3:30pm this afternoon. Follow live timing and scoring, and listen to the IMS Radio Network at http://racecontrol.indycar.com/.

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