New Orleans, La.(February 22, 2014) – This afternoon’s second round of the Cooper Tires Winterfest for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires was decided at the start when outside front row qualifier Garett Grist jumped clear of the field at the rolling start. The teenaged rookie from Grimsby, Ont., Canada took full advantage by romping to a decisive win for Andretti Autosport.
Polesitter Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) fell to sixth before Turn One, but charged back through the field and was able to regain second place when Brazilian debutant Pipo Derani made a mistake with just three corners remaining in the 18-lap race. Pigot now leads the standings by 10 points over Grist as the mini-series heads almost immediately to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for two more races on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25/26.
The top seven cars ran virtually in nose-to-tail formation for the opening five laps before Grist, a race winner last year in USF2000, settled into his stride and began to inch clear. He finally took the checkered flag 4.495 seconds clear of Pigot.
With all of the cars on the inside of the starting lineup bottled up behind Pigot when the race went green, Derani (Team Pelfrey) saw his opportunity and vaulted all the way from sixth to second. He remained under pressure initially from Scott Hargrove, who won last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and then from the fast-recovering Pigot.
Pigot set the fastest lap of the race as he tried to find a way past Derani, and his efforts finally paid off in Turn 13 on the 18th and final lap when Derani left his braking a little too late, slid slightly wide, and Pigot immediately filled the gap.
Hargrove completed his rookie Pro Mazda weekend for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing with a fine run to fourth, while 17-year-old Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) held off a race-long challenge from both Jose Gutierrez (Juncos Racing), from Monterrey, Mexico, and Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) for fifth.
Dalton Kellett (Team Pelfrey), from Stouffville, Ont., Canada, Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) and Michael Johnson (JDC MotorSports) completed the top 10.
Reported Garett Grist – #27 DaVinci Foods/Lander Property Management (Andretti Autosport): “Today was a great day. It was our second start in Pro Mazda and I started second again. Yesterday I had a poor start and fell back, but luckily today I was able to make a good one. I put my head down from out front and just knocked off consistent laps until the end.”
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit www.promazdachampionship.com.
About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing, and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. Cooper has joint ventures, affiliates and subsidiaries that also specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. Cooper’s headquarters is in Findlay, Ohio, with manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. For more information on Cooper Tire, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Contact: Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations