INDIANAPOLIS – Canadian Scott Hargrove finally broke through into victory lane this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following an action-packed Pro Mazda Championship race.
Shelby Blackstock finished second to earn his best finish of the season so far, while Hargrove’s teammate, Neil Alberico, finished third after leading for much of the race.
The race began in dry, windy conditions with pole-winning championship leader Spencer Pigot being virtually swamped as the field accelerated away from the rolling start. All of a sudden Pigot found himself in sixth as the field swept into turn one. He briefly made up a couple of positions in the ensuing melee, only to be clipped from the rear as he sped toward turn two.
An instant later, Pigot was spinning backward and several other cars also were involved in incidents, including Brazilian Pipo Derani, who had started fifth. The caution flags waved right away, with Hargrove, who had started second, in the lead ahead of teammate Alberico, who had somehow made up six positions on the chaotic opening few turns.
Nor was Alberico done. He made a fine restart, challenging Hargrove through turns one and two, and while the Canadian just about held onto his advantage, he then squandered it with a mistake at turn four which gifted the lead to Alberico. Ryan Booth also charged into contention, with Blackstock and Nicolas Costa hot on his heels.
After another full-course caution, Alberico found himself under intense pressure from Hargrove, Booth and Blackstock, the foursome dicing furiously as they negotiated the recently reconfigured 2.439-mile race track. Sadly, the scrap came to a premature conclusion when Booth misjudged his attempt to pass Hargrove for second in turn seven and spun, making contact with race leader Alberico at the same time.
Alberico, miraculously, was able to continue, but after yet another caution period he came under siege again, this time from Hargrove. The two teammates banged wheels at turn two, with Hargrove taking the lead and Blackstock also finding a way through into second place, which is how they finished.
“That was probably one of the most fun races that I have ever had,” Hargrove said. “I made a really good start and went to the outside of Spencer [Pigot] and we were drag racing into the first corner and all I knew is that I came out into the lead. Neil [Alberico] was right behind me and he went to the inside going through Turn 4 and then the outside and I completely blew the turn and he got the lead.
“I stayed there behind Neil but every restart was so much fun – it was wheel-to-wheel. I have so much respect for the guys in this series to be able to race that hard. It was a phenomenal job by Cape Motorsports. It’s an awesome feeling and I can’t thank MAZDASPEED and Analytic Systems enough,” Hargrove said.
Alberico ended up third, followed by Dalton Kellett and Brandon Newey.
Scott Hargrove, Shelby Blackstock, Neil Alberico, Dalton Kellett, Brandon Newey, Garett Grist, Jose Gutierrez, Spencer Pigot, Pipo Derani, Julia Ballario, Michael Johnson, Jay Horak, Kyle Kaiser, Kyle Connery, Nicolas Costa, Michele Bumgarner, Ryan Booth, Bobby Eberle, Jason Rabe.