Munoz breaks to the top; Jefferies makes waves
 August 3, 2013| 
  • Series News

LEXINGTON, Ohio — You’d expect Carlos Munoz and Jack Hawksworth to be at or near the top of the time sheet in the first Firestone Indy Lights practice session on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Mid-Ohio 100.

And they were — with Munoz leading the way with a best lap of 1 minute, 13.5625 seconds in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport and Hawksworth a scant .1921 of a second behind in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian car.

But jumping into prominence on the Timing & Scoring screen with less than a minute left in the 60-minute session was Axcil Jefferies, who is making his Firestone Indy Lights debut. The 19-year-old from Zimbabwe posted the third-fastest time of 1:13.8848 in the No. 28 Starting Grid JMM/BHA with Curb-Agajanian car.

“It was a pretty good first session; we weren’t going for times as such,” said Jefferies, who competed in the FIA Formula 2 Championship last year and previously competed in the Formula BMW Pacific championship. “We were trying to evaluate a few things on the car and I was trying to get comfortable in the Indy Lights car. We were able to work through a good program and I think that will put us in good sted.

“We’ve been given an opportunity by American Honda and Starting Grid to show what we have and I need to impress, and hopefully we can keep that momentum through qualifying and the race and get some more races in.”

A second practice session Aug. 3 preceding the 1 p.m. (ET) qualifications will get the green flag at 9:30 a.m. The 40-lap race is scheduled for noon Aug. 4 (NBC Sports Network broadcast at 2 p.m.). It’s the first Firestone Indy Lights race at the track since 2010.

Munoz, who takes an eight-point lead over Sage Karam into the race, is seeking his fourth victory of the season and second on a road course.

“In the beginning, the track was quite slippery. I’m sure the track was the best in the end,” he said. “Tomorrow in qualifying the times will show up in the last few seconds of the session. It’s going to be tough, going to be a tough weekend. We’ll have work and see how it goes.”

Hawksworth, who is fourth in the standings, is coming off a victory from the pole at Toronto on July 13.

“We had a rough patch for sure in the middle (of the season),” the series rookie said. “The ovals, they went as well as we thought they were going to go, that’s for sure. We lost a lot of points. Good to be back on the (road/street) circuits where predominantly I’ve been quick the past couple of years.

“It feels good, the car feels good today. Just happy to be back at the front and hopefully we can have a great end to the year.”

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