Kaiser Leads the Way as Indy Lights Heads to Barber Motorsports Park
 April 19, 2016| 
  • Series News
All Three Levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Support Verizon IndyCar Series in Alabama

PALMETTO, Fla. – Kyle Kaiser will be looking to extend his advantage in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires when all three open-wheel development series which comprise the Mazda Road to Indy driver development program visit scenic Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series. The Legacy Indy Lights 100 will comprise a pair of races, one each on Saturday and Sunday.

Kaiser, 20, from Santa Clara, Calif., has grasped the early initiative in the chase for a Mazda scholarship to assist in the graduation to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017. Kaiser, now in his second season of Indy Lights, has claimed podium finishes in each of the first three races of the season, including a dominant victory earlier this month on the Phoenix International Raceway oval.

The undulating 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course will offer an entirely different challenge in comparison to the one-mile oval in Arizona, but Kaiser gained good experience one year ago, qualifying fourth for both races. He is driving for the same Juncos Racing team which guided then-teammate Spencer Pigot to a clean sweep of victories at Barber en route to the 2015 championship crown.

Kaiser currently holds an 18-point advantage, 81-63, over Felix Serralles, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, who won the opening race of the season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., driving for the European open-wheel powerhouse Carlin team. Serralles also won last year on the famed Milwaukee Mile oval.

Swedish rookie Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing), who won last year’s FIA European Formula 3 Championship, holds down third place in the championship standings on 53 points after also tasting the fruits of victory in St. Petersburg.

Other top contenders will include Ed Jones, Scott Hargrove, Zach Veach, Shelby Blackstock, Dean Stoneman, RC Enerson and Santiago Urrutia.

Canadian Hargrove (Team Pelfrey) won the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title and was second in the following year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, which included a pair of runner-up finishes at Barber. Veach (Belardi Auto Racing), from Stockdale, Ohio, is returning to Indy Lights following a year’s sabbatical after finishing third in the 2014 title-chase, and already has a podium finish to his credit this year.

Englishman Jones, who won the first three races last year for Carlin, hopes to build on a fastest race lap and a pair of third-place qualifying results one year ago, while Californian teammate Neil Alberico earned a Pro Mazda win at Barber last year and showed well at the venue previously in USF2000.

Andretti Autosport’s challenge will stem from Pro Mazda grads Blackstock, from Nashville, Tenn., and Canada’s Kellett, as well as highly rated Englishman Stoneman, a former FIA Formula 2 champion and runner-up in the GP3 Series. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian’s hopes of a record-extending eighth Indy Lights drivers’ championship will be headed by Florida teenager Enerson, who won last year at Mid-Ohio, and Uruguay’s Urrutia, who has every intention of following in the footsteps of Pigot by snaring the Indy Lights and Pro Mazda championships – plus respective Mazda scholarships – in consecutive years. Urrutia laid down a marker by posting the fastest lap during the Barber pre-season Spring Training test at 1:12.4479 (114.289 mph), less than a tenth of a second away from Pigot’s track record.

A pair of practice sessions will take place on Friday, April 22, at 10:15 a.m. CDT and 5:25 p.m.  Qualifying is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Race One at 12:00 p.m. The green flag for Race Two on Sunday will fly at 12.20 p.m., immediately before the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event. Live streaming shows of all sessions will be available at indylights.com, indycar.com and on the Road To Indy TV App. Sunday’s race will feature same day coverage on NBCSN at 1:00 pm CDT.
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