Last seen at Road America in 1990, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series is set to return to the challenging 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for a pair of races in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ KOHLER Grand Prix.
Second-year Carlin driver Ed Jones has come on strong since his first victory of 2016 at Barber Motorsports Park. The Dubai-based driver has locked out the pole position for each race since Birmingham and looks to earn his sixth consecutive pole at Road America. As one of only two in the field to win two races this year, Jones sits atop the championship standings with 185 points entering the ninth round.
Jones, with a European background, has high praise for Road America and anticipates high-quality racing on the classic American track.
“It’s so much like Spa with the long straights and fast corners,” said Jones. “That can make it difficult to put a good lap together because there are so many things to get right. It’s very challenging and I really enjoy that.
“I think the racing will be very good especially since the long straights should create more opportunities for passing.”
Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman, second in the points standings, has won the last two races. The rookie driver will look to close the 29-point gap to Jones at the halfway point of the 18-round season.
Stoneman feels his team, which went from one car in 2015 to three this year, has the capability to do well at Road America.
“It’s a high-speed, flowing track and it’s really enjoyable to drive,” said Stoneman. “It’s got a bit of everything: high-speed, low-speed, sweepers and 90-degree corners. It’s enjoyable to work with your engineer here, to figure out how to make the car better on the whole track.
“Between the three of us, we have the car going in the right direction.”
More Than a Two-Driver Title Fight
Despite Jones and Stoneman each having two victories, the 14-car Indy Lights field contains four other winning drivers.
Santiago Urrutia, winner of Race 2 at Barber, sits 39 points behind Jones in third. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie can further close the gap with a strong performance this weekend.
Last year’s championship-winning team remains in the title chase with their driver Kyle Kaiser. The returning Juncos Racing driver and winner of the third round in Phoenix holds fourth in the standings.
Felix Serralles, fifth in points, won the opening round in St. Petersburg and remains within striking distance of the championship at this stage of the season.
Drivers yet to win in 2016 include Belardi Auto Racing’s Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport’s Shelby Blackstock and Dalton Kellett, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Andre Negrao, and Team Pelfrey’s Juan Piedrahita.
New Names Join the Field
Two drivers will get their first taste of Indy Lights competition at Road America: Garett Grist and James French.
Grist moves up from the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires to join Team Pelfrey’s Indy Lights effort. French will debut with Belardi Auto Racing, filling in for Felix Rosenqvist who is unable to participate due to other commitments.
The doubleheader weekend will kick off with the first race of the Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America on Saturday, June 25 at 1 p.m. EDT. Race 2 will follow on Sunday at 9:45 a.m. with same-day coverage on NBSCN at 3:30 p.m. EDT after the completion of the KOHLER Grand Prix.