Mazda Road to Indy Racers Set for Annual Canadian Visit
 July 10, 2018| 
  • Series News
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Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 Series to Race on the Streets of Toronto

PALMETTO, Fla. – All three levels of the highly effective Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder will venture north of the border this week for their annual visit to the streets surrounding Exhibition Place – just minutes away from downtown Toronto – in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series. The 1.786-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit always provides a stiff challenge for the drivers with its omnipresent concrete walls ready to punish any mistakes.

Two races each will be held for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. All three series are now reaching into the crucial second half of the season with more than $3.5 million on offer in scholarships and awards to assist drivers in their progression from the grassroots of the sport to IndyCar.

Maple Leaf Well-Represented in Pro Mazda
This weekend’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products will have a distinct Canadian flavor as Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., seeks to extend his championship lead with Michael Duncalfe’s Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport team.

Thompson, 20, has become a popular fixture on the Mazda Road to Indy over the last few years, twice finishing among the top three in the USF2000 title-chase before stepping up to Pro Mazda this season. He has lost no time in making his presence felt. Thompson led much of the season-opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., before having to settle for second. In the next event at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, Thompson romped to victory in Race One before adding a second-place finish in Race Two to take over the points lead in the chase for a Mazda Scholarship worth $790,300 to move up to Indy Lights in 2019.

Subsequent wins on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit and a dominant performance on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval have taken him to a commanding 46-point lead with seven races remaining on the schedule. Thompson has history on his side, too, after winning three times in Toronto over the past two years, including claiming the Exclusive team’s maiden Mazda Road to Indy triumph in 2017.

“Sweeping the weekend last year in Toronto in front of my fellow countrymen was probably the most memorable racing weekend of my career,” says Thompson. “The best part is we have the chance to relive some of the same emotions again this year, (and) I will do absolutely everything in my power to defend our win streak on the streets of Toronto.”

He will face plenty of stout opposition. Chicago teenager David Malukas claimed the first two wins – both for himself and BN Racing – in the most recent races at Road America. Dutchman Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing), who finished second in last year’s USF2000 title-chase, and Englishman Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport Racing), who dominated the Euroformula Open championship in Europe, also have earned a pair of wins during their rookie seasons.

Brazilian Carlos Cunha has been knocking on the door to Victory Circle with four podium results for Juncos Racing, while Florida’s Oliver Askew, who convincingly won the 2017 USF2000 championship, has garnered three poles after stepping up a level with Cape Motorsports.

The Team Pelfrey pair of Andres Gutierrez, from Monterrey, Mexico, and Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, have shown well, and Antonio Serravalle, 15, from nearby Markham, Ont., is looking for a breakout weekend as Thompson’s teammate after stepping up directly from the karting ranks.

The weekend will begin with a practice session at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, July 13, followed by a pair of qualifying sessions (at 10:05 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) which will set the grids for the pair of 40-minute races. Round 10 (of 16 races this year) will see the green flag at 10:50 a.m. on Saturday, with Race Two set for 10:40 a.m. on Sunday. All times are EDT.

Coverage of on-track action in all three series can be found on a series of platforms including Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV App and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku and, most recently, the Xbox One Official App as well as live streaming and live timing on the series’ respective websites and indycar.com. Indy Lights is also featured on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts on Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Sunday's Indy Lights race will be broadcast on NBCSN at 6:00 pm EDT on Monday, July 16.
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