LEXINGTON, Ohio – There’s an old adage in auto racing that says “I’d rather be lucky than good.”
Well, both terms apply to Matthew Brabham.
He appeared to be headed for a second-place finish behind Venezuelan Diego Ferreira in this morning’s 12th round of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the second leg of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, but moments after the caution flags flew as a result of an oil spillage in turn four due to contact between two cars farther down the field, Ferreira and Brabham encountered the oil slick and both leaders fought to maintain control of their cars.
Ferreira (Juncos Racing), who had taken the lead with an opportunistic maneuver on the first lap, slid off the road and through a gravel trap, narrowly missing the stranded car of Jay Horak. By the time Ferreira rejoined the track, Brabham, who had somehow managed to keep his Andretti Autosport Pro Mazda on the blacktop, was through and into the lead. The cleanup process could not be completed before the time-certain schedule had run its course, so the cars remained in that order as the race finished behind the pace car.
Ferreira, from Maracay, Venezuela, claimed that the pass had been made under caution, which indeed it had, but race officials ruled that since Brabham had managed to remain on the race track and Ferreira had not, the change in positions was legitimate. Brabham was duly credited with his record-breaking ninth win of the season, eclipsing the mark set by 2012 champion Jack Hawksworth.
Spencer Pigot made a spectacular start to jump from fifth to third for Team Pelfrey. He placed Brabham under intense pressure in the opening stages before gradually slipping back into the clutches of teammate Nicolas Costa, who had made a poor start from fourth but quickly recovered some ground by passing Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport).
By lap 11, Pigot, Costa and Blackstock were running in nose-to-tail formation in their battle for third. Pigot, who was struggling with his car’s handling, then lost two places in quick succession when Costa fought his way through in Turn Five and Blackstock took advantage of Pigot being forced off line to sneak past in turn six.
The caution flags flew a short while later following an incident between Kyle Connery (M1 Racing) and Juan Piedrahita (JDC MotorSports) which resulted in the oil spillage and the race being concluded under yellow-flag conditions.
Expert Class leaders Horak (AutoEnginuity/M1 Racing) and Bobby Eberle (World Speed Motorsports) both spun in unison on the oil, gifting the Expert honors to Walt Bowlin (M1 Racing), from Tampa, Fla., who had survived a spin of his own earlier in the race.