Series rookies Nico Jamin and Colton Herta put their Andretti Autosport entries at the top of the timesheets at the end of the Day 1 of Spring Training for the Mazda Road To Indy series at Miami Homestead Speedway.
2015 USF2000 champion and 2016 Pro Mazda star Jamin lapped the 1.485-mile course in 28.6991sec to register a top speed of 186.278mph in his Dallara IL15-Mazda. That was 0.088sec quicker than his teammate Herta, who is joining the Mazda Road To Indy after a successful two years racing Formula 4 in Europe.
Said Jamin: “It was my first time with the superspeedway wings, and the speed out there is absolutely crazy but I love it. Andretti gave me a great car today.
“We worked on a lot of different setups and ended up very strong to get the best lap at the end. You can feel the speed building up a lot quicker and you can really feel the aero balance changing in traffic. We did some pack running today with the other team cars which was very interesting.
“It’s a big jump from Pro Mazda but I am fortunate to have Andretti helping me through it. I feel very comfortable with the car and ready to head to St. Pete.”
Herta, son of Bryan Herta, said the test had been useful preparation for Indy Lights’ marquee event, the Freedom 100, which is held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Friday before the Indy 500.
“This was my first time with the speedway wings and it went quite well,” he commented. “It’s good prep for Indy and it looks as though if we can be quick here, we can be quick there.
“The car is fantastic and the Cooper Tires work well. It’s a good combo and it seems to produce good racing. There was a bit more cloud cover this afternoon and when the track cooled everything worked better and that’s when we saw the quickest times.”
A dozen of the expected 15 contenders took part in the test, and Belardi Auto Racing, who are expanding to three fulltime cars in 2017, came closest to toppling Andretti. Santiago Urrutia, last year’s Lights runner-up with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports now defunct feeder formula team, was third just a hair ahead of Pro Mazda reigning champion Aaron Telitz.
Urrutia enthused: “It’s good to work with the Belardi team, I like the way they work. I have good teammates and I have the same engineer from last year so it’s good.
“I am happy to get back to an oval – it’s been a while since I’ve driven one. We focused on our pace and didn’t run much in traffic. Since we’ll use this wing at Indy, we worked on setup and downforce. I’m happy with my position. The car was better and better throughout the day.”
Mazda Road To Indy’s Spring Training test continues for the next three days but on Homestead’s 2.21-mile infield road course. Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams will test Tuesday and Wednesday, with Lights returning in roadcourse trim on Thursday.
1. Nico Jamin Andretti Autosport 186.278mph 135 laps
2. Colton Herta Andretti Steinbrenner Racing 186.221 135
3. Santiago Urrutia Belardi Auto Racing 186.059 64
4. Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 185.974 119
5. Dalton Kellett Andretti Autosport 185.238 102
6. Matheus Leist Carlin Racing 185.213 137
7. Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 184.900 177
8. Neil Alberico Carlin Racing 184.294 129
9. Garth Rickards Carlin Racing 184.206 132
10. Zachary C. De Melo Carlin Racing 183.932 96
11. Shelby Blackstock Belardi Auto Racing 183.786 94
12. Nicolas Dapero Juncos Racing 182.398 194