Home Featured Telitz wins at wet Watkins Glen as Kaiser wraps up Lights title

Telitz wins at wet Watkins Glen as Kaiser wraps up Lights title

by Ida Wood
Pro Mazda

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Aaron Telitz bookended his rookie Indy Lights season with victory in the Grand Prix of Watkins Glen, as Kyle Kaiser secured the championship with seventh place in torrential rain.

Although the championship battle was decided in Kaiser?s favour as soon he started the race, the battle for the win went on far longer.

Race control gave the drivers two warm up laps to help displace water and find the grippier lines, but when the race got started drivers were still clueless as to where to place their car.

Andretti Steinbrenner Racing driver Colton Herta started from pole, and he braked early into Turn 1 as he searched for grip. Belardi Auto Racing drivers Aaron Telitz and Santiago Urrutia had no such quarrels and they went to the inside and outside of the American.

Herta had picked the right tactic though, and his superior traction meant he emerged from Turn 1 with the lead.

Next time round Telitz was the one who got it right, and he dived down the inside once again, this time taking top spot. Herta got it back before the end of the lap though, and Telitz had to go round the outside of Turn 1 to reclaim the lead.

Urrutia was now involved again with the lead battle, and after passing Herta at Turn 8 he started to hound Telitz.

Blinded by Telitz?s spray, Urrutia missed the braking point for the Inner Loop, resulting in him going through the run-off and handing second back to Herta.

The Uruguayan had to wait until lap six before he was in second again, and he now had a five second deficit to Telitz to overcome.

Once passed, Herta dropped back significantly, fighting his mishandling car through every turn in an impressive display of skill.

Urrutia only managed to claw back one second from Telitz before the race was red flagged, which was in response to a hefty crash for Dalton Kellett at the Inner Loop.

?There were no rivers or puddles but it was really really slick out there. No grip on this tyre compound.? Kellett said after getting back to the pits.

With it being the first, and only opportunity to test out Cooper Tyres? 2017 wet tyre compound for Indy Lights, his words were not taken lightly.

The race restarted in slightly drier conditions, and it became a duel between Telitz and Urrutia.

Telitz used the more traditional racing line, while Urrutia stuck to using the edges of the track to find grip in the wet, an approach used by most of the field.

Urrutia?s tactic seemed to work best at first, and he briefly held fastest lap. Telitz responded though, and in the closing laps he left his opponent for dead, crossing the line two seconds ahead and setting a fastest lap over six tenths faster.

Herta just held on to third after a late attack from Carlin?s Matheus Leist, with Nico Jamin and Zachary Claman DeMelo driving carefully to fifth and sixth.

Newly crowned champion Kaiser was seventh, but only through the misfortune of others was he able to finish in the top 10. He initially ran 12th of the 13 cars that ran, and after a lap-six spin continued to hemorrhage time to those ahead.

?It feels surreal right now,? said the 2017 champion. ?After that performance I don?t feel like celebrating right now. But I?m over the moon.?

Kaiser wins a $1 million scholarship fund for Indycar, and a guaranteed seat in three races next year, including the Indy 500.


Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Grand Prix of Watkins Glen Results (25 laps)
1 Aaron Telitz Belardi 58m40.968s
2 Santiago Urrutia Belardi +2.1807s
3 Colton Herta Andretti +9.5449s
4 Matheus Liest Carlin +10.9795
5 Nico Jamin Andretti +14.2479s
6 Zachary Claman DeMelo Carlin +24.8705s
7 Kyle Kaiser Juncos +40.9490s
8 Nicolas Dapero Juncos +43.8622s
9 Juan Piedrahita Pelfrey +53.4063s
10 Ryan Norman Andretti +1m13.4386s
11 Neil Alberico Carlin +1m26.4864s
NC Shelby Blackstock Belardi +10 laps
Ret Dalton Kellett Andretti
Ret Garth Rickards Carlin
Fastest Lap: Telitz 1m55.327s

Championship Standings
1 Kaiser 330 2 Urrutia 310 3 Herta 299 4 Leist 279 5 DeMelo 274 6 Telitz 271 7Jamin 269 8 Alberico 225 9 Piedrahita 208 10 Blackstock 207