Mazda Road to Indy Open-Wheel Rising Stars Head to Toronto Streets
 July 13, 2016| 
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Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 Series All Set for Double-Header Action

PALMETTO, Fla. – The Mazda Road to Indy is set to provide some thrilling action this weekend as all three steps on the open-wheel development ladder – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will hold a pair of races on the demanding Exhibition Place street circuit in downtown Toronto, Ont., Canada in support of the Honda Indy Toronto. The unique Mazda Road to Indy initiative provides Mazda scholarships at every level to assist aspiring professionals in graduating from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Ontario’s Grist to Take on Established Indy Lights Front-Runners

Just a few days after competing on the dauntingly fast, high-banked Iowa Speedway oval, the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto, comprising Rounds 12 and 13 of an 18-race season, will present an entirely different challenge on the tight and unforgiving 1.755-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

Dubai-based Englishman Ed Jones, fellow Briton Dean Stoneman, Uruguayan Santiago “Santi” Urrutia and Puerto Rican Felix Serralles currently lead the point standings after 11 races, each with two victories already to their names.

Jones, driving for the British Carlin team, finished fifth and third in Toronto during his rookie campaign in 2015, while Urrutia, representing seven-time championship-winning team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, garnered a seventh and a fourth en route to winning last year’s Pro Mazda championship and a Mazda Scholarship to assist in his graduation this year to Indy Lights. Fellow Indy Lights rookie Stoneman is taking part in his first season of racing outside Europe but has proven to be a quick study, and last year earned a second-place finish on his maiden appearance at Monaco in the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series. Serralles (Carlin) won last weekend’s race at Iowa to add to his victory earlier this year on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Among their opposition this weekend will be local driver Garett Grist, from Grimsby, Ont., who will be taking part in just his second weekend of Indy Lights competition with Team Pelfrey after stepping up from Pro Mazda. Grist, 21, is a veteran of the Exhibition Place street circuit, having finished sixth in a USF2000 race in 2013 and then dominated last year’s second Pro Mazda race as he led from pole position to the checkered flag. The weekend will mark Grist’s 100th race.

“I am really looking forward to this weekend,” said Grist. “It's always great to come home for your home race, and it's great that my friends and family are able to come out and watch. Winning last year was massive. This year I hope to do the same. It will be my second weekend in Indy Lights so I'm still new, but the pace we showed at Road America in my first weekend was great especially with myself and the team having never been there before. There is no reason we shouldn't be able to run at the front this weekend.”

Other top contenders will include Zach Veach, who took his first victory for Belardi Auto Racing last month at Road America; returning teammate Felix Rosenqvist, from Sweden, last year’s FIA European Formula 3 champion who also took a win at St. Petersburg but was forced to skip the two most recent weekends due to his European commitments; Toronto’s Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport), who claimed his first podium finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May; and fellow rookie Zachary Claman De Melo (Juncos Racing), from Montreal, Que., who has displayed prodigious pace in several recent races.

After a pair of practice sessions on Friday and qualifying on Saturday morning, Race One will take place at 12:25 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, July 16. Race Two will follow the IndyCar warmup at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, July 17. 

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