TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Kyle Kaiser drove another exemplary race today on the streets around Exhibition Place to claim the second leg of this weekend’s Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products.
The Californian took advantage of some misfortune for polesitter Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing), then posted a series of fastest race laps to claim his second victory in as many days and his third of the season to take a commanding lead of 52 points into the final four races of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.
Aaron Telitz, the winner of last year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the middle step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, finished second for Belardi Auto Racing, while Carlin’s Zachary Claman DeMelo rounded out the podium.
Herta, 17, from Valencia, Calif., took advantage of perfect track conditions this morning to post a new lap record of 1:05.0049 (98.849 mph) in qualifying for today’s 12th round of the season. Then, after a first-corner incident eliminated the cars of Frenchman Nico Jamin (Andretti Autosport), Tennessean Shelby Blackstock (Belardi Auto Racing) and Californian Neil Alberico (Carlin), Herta quickly began to pull away from Kaiser, who started third but had made a bold move to displace front row starter Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) at Turn One.
Herta stretched his advantage after the restart to almost four seconds over the course of the next five laps, only for that margin to be erased by another full-course caution after Urrutia ground to halt with a mechanical problem.
Herta continued to lead at the restart, only this time Indy Lights veteran Kaiser, 21, from Santa Clara, Calif., was able to stay with him and keep the youngster within his sights. The pair set a fast pace as they stretched clear of Telitz, who had overtaken DeMelo at Turn Three shortly after the restart. Herta, though, had lightly glanced one of the omni-present and unforgiving concrete walls with his car’s left-rear wheel. That minimal impact proved to be the difference between success and disappointment as, on Lap 26, the rear suspension abruptly broke at Turn Six. The unfortunate Herta did well to maintain control but his race was over.
Kaiser was gifted a clear advantage over Telitz, which he extended to almost nine seconds before easing off to ensure victory by a comfortable margin of 5.8649 seconds.
Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., soaked up the pressure from Montreal’s DeMelo to secure the third podium finish of his rookie campaign, while Colombian Juan Piedrahita snagged his best result of the season, fifth, for Team Pelfrey.
Kaiser’s closest challenger for the championship, Matheus Leist, endured another tough day with the Carlin team. After qualifying a disappointing 11th, the Brazilian rookie made a mistake at Turn Three while challenging for seventh, although he did show some more competitive pace as he fought back to fifth at the finish after passing Tilton Hard Charger Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport), who rose to sixth after starting 14th. Nicolas Dapero finished seventh for Juncos Racing to claim the Staubli Award.
Kaiser now leads Leist by 280 points to 228 as the series heads next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in two weeks’ time for another double-header event held once again in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Today’s race will air tomorrow on NBCSN at 7:00 pm EDT.