LEXINGTON, Ohio – Nicolas Costa overcame a severe bout of stomach cramps to score a finely judged victory in Saturday evening’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Round 10 of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The 22-year-old Brazilian fell ill last night, after claiming his first pole position yesterday for Team Pelfrey, and didn’t even arrive at the track until shortly before the race as he attempted to overcome his affliction.
It was the first-ever Pro Mazda win for Costa, who rejoined the Florida-based team in May at Lucas Oil Raceway after a partial campaign in 2013.
The race was interrupted by a full-course caution soon after the start due to a couple of separate incidents, but not before there had been some shuffling toward the front of the field. Costa had maintained his advantage over fellow front row starter Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing), but behind them Ryan Booth made a sensational getaway for JDC MotorSports, rising from sixth on the grid to third ahead of the Andretti Autosport pair of Garett Grist and Shelby Blackstock, then series points leader Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing), who made up a couple of positions from a disappointing eighth on the grid.
The restart saw Costa remain in charge from Kaiser and Booth as Blackstock snuck past Grist for fourth.
Another full-course caution set up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag during which Costa resisted a strong challenge not from the unfortunate Kaiser, who abruptly slowed during the caution (before rejoining at the back of the field), but from Booth, who continued his steady improvement and finally finished just 0.3458 seconds in arrears. It was the second podium of the season for Costa and the first for Booth.
Blackstock finished third ahead of Pigot, who extended his series lead to 21 points over Scott Hargrove. The winner of last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda finished sixth after a race-long battle with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Neil Alberico. Pigot’s young Mexican teammate, Jose Gutierrez, also ran well, finishing fifth after starting on the second row of the grid.
Bobby Eberle (World Speed Motorsports) comfortably won the Expert division.
Nicolas Costa, Ryan Booth, Shelby Blackstock, Spencer Pigot, Jose Gutierrez, Scott Hargrove, Neil Alberico, Dalton Kellett, Garett Grist, Brandon Newey, Kyle Connery, Kyle Kaiser, Bobby Eberle, Julia Ballario, Carlos Conde, Felipe Donato, Michael Johnson, Jay Horak, Brian Litt