All Three Mazda Road to Indy Series Set for Indianapolis GP
 May 8, 2018| 
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Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 to Race in Support of the Lupus Foundation

PALMETTO, Fla. – With a history dating back over 100 years, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ranks right at the top of the list of venues for all open-wheel racers. This weekend around 50 young Indianapolis 500 aspirants, representing all three levels of the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires development ladder, will be chasing victory on the Brickyard’s 2.439-mile Grand Prix road course in a total of six races which will comprise the Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Grand Prix of Indianapolis supporting the Lupus Foundation of America.

It will be the first time since the season began in March on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., that competitors from Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will share the spotlight in support of the exciting, new-look Verizon IndyCar Series cars.

For the second straight year, Royal Purple Synthetic Oil – the Official Oil of the Mazda Road to Indy – will support Lupus Awareness Month to help spread the word on this mysterious disease and raise funds for lupus research and education. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans – and at least five million people worldwide – suffer from a form of lupus. All MRTI cars will display a special decal in support of the Lupus Foundation of America, and the hashtag #RaceToEndLupus will be utilized throughout the event. Fans, drivers and teams can show their support by donating via a special page on the national Lupus Foundation of America website - www.lupus.org/racing.

Thompson and Exclusive Autosport Blaze a Pro Mazda Trail
Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, and his Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport team are new to Pro Mazda this year, having stepped up from USF2000 after finishing a strong third during the team’s initial campaign in 2017. The graduation has been equally impressive. Thompson, 20, led most of his debut Pro Mazda race at St. Petersburg, Fla., before finishing second , and since then has added a win and another runner-up finish at Barber Motorsports Park to take an early championship lead.

“In complete honesty, leading the championship right now at this stage doesn’t mean much to me or the team,” says Thompson. “We’re focused on racing for wins, and the points will come secondary. What satisfies me the most is that a team on the Mazda Road to Indy gave me a shot in Pro Mazda, and I returned the favor with a solid performance in Barber. That’s a special feeling when someone puts their faith in your abilities, and you go out and prove that they made the right decision. I’ll be looking to carry that confidence through the rest of the season.

“I can’t wait to step foot on the ground of the greatest spectacle in racing,” he continues. “Indy has treated me well in the past, with a win in USF2000. On top of that we had a very successful Chris Griffis test here last October, so I think we’re looking pretty good for the weekend.”

Oliver Askew, who beat Thompson to the USF2000 crown last year, has another compelling reason to look forward to this weekend’s pair of races after sweeping both USF2000 wins on his Indianapolis debut in 2017.

“When I heard that the Lupus Foundation of America was associating with the MRTI for the first time last year, I was ecstatic, not just for the association but also for my mom who has lived with lupus for most of her life. Not many people know about the illness, so for me to help spread awareness while competing at the racing capital of the world is pretty special for me and my family. I’d like to help make a bigger impression this year. I could tell my mom enjoyed the event so much last year, it was really cool to have her present my trophy on the podium; we’ll both remember that forever.”

Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., carries the distinctive Soul Red livery as a Mazda Scholarship winner on his Cape Motorsports Tatuus-Mazda PM-18 for the second straight year after securing his introduction to USF2000 in 2017 by claiming the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout the previous fall. After beginning his graduation to Pro Mazda by qualifying fastest for the opening race in St. Petersburg, Askew does not yet have the results commensurate with his speed. But his confidence remains undimmed.

“It’s no secret that we haven’t had the same blinding start to this season as we did last year, but there is still no reason why we can’t make the comeback and sweep the IMS Grand Prix this year as we did last year in USF2000,” he says. “It is one of my favorite tracks in the world and my team, Cape Motorsports, and I know exactly what we need out of the car to compete at the front. All we can do is focus on ourselves and continue to work hard. I believe I have the best people working around me to be successful, so it’s just a matter of putting everything together.”

A resurgence of competitiveness in Pro Mazda this year has been triggered by the exciting new Tatuus-Mazda PM-18 chassis-engine combination and an influx of talented young racers. Among them is Dutchman Rinus VeeKay, who finished second in last year’s very competitive USF2000 title-chase and swept both wins on his Pro Mazda debut in Florida with Juncos Racing, which guided Victor Franzoni to the crown in 2017. Other front-runners will include Englishman Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport Racing), who dominated last year’s EuroFormula Open Championship and scored his first North American victory at the most recent race in Alabama, and David Malukas, who has stepped up from USF2000 with another new team, BN Racing, and already has two podium finishes to his name.

A busy week for the Pro Mazda drivers will commence with two 50-minute test sessions on Thursday, May 10, followed by 30 minutes of official practice starting at 4:30 p.m. Two separate qualifying sessions, to be held on Friday at 8:40 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., will set the grids for each of the two races. The first will start at 3:35 p.m. on Friday and the second at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12.

Coverage can be found on a series of platforms including Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV App and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku and, most recently, the Xbox One Official App as well as live streaming and live timing on the series’ respective websites and indycar.com. Indy Lights is also featured on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts on Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

NBCSN will air Sunday’s Indy Lights race on Tuesday, May 22, at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
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