Friday night's sixth round of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, held over 90 laps at the Milwaukee Mile, proved to be a virtual carbon copy of the previous oval race at Lucas Oil Raceway. Series leader Matthew Brabham qualified his MAZDASPEED/Team Andretti Autosport entry comfortably on the pole and then ran away to a dominant victory.
The 19-year-old winner of the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and grandson of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham pulled away at the rate of a half-second per lap through the opening stages. Brabham then was content to look after his equipment and maintain a healthy advantage over his pursuers, who were led by Colombian Juan Piedrahita (JDC MotorSports) and Team Pelfrey teammates Spencer Pigot and Anders Krohn.
Pigot, 19, from Orlando, Fla., was the biggest mover at the start, vaulting from sixth on the grid to third at the end of the opening lap. Both he and Krohn maintained some kind of pressure on 20-year-old Colombian Piedrahita, and their battle intensified shortly after half distance when they all came up to lap Brabham's teammate, Shelby Blackstock.
This tussle allowed Brabham to extend his margin to almost half a lap, although that was nullified on lap 68 when Kyle Kaiser (World Speed Motorsports) lost control and spun out of eighth place at the exit of Turn Four to bring out the first and only full-course caution. Kaiser, 17, the youngest driver in the field, was unhurt in the incident.
It was but a minor inconvenience for Brabham, who took off at the restart and left the remainder of the field far behind. His eventual margin of victory was 9.721 seconds.
“It was an absolutely fantastic race. It went all to plan and the car was great. I can't thank the team enough," said Brabham. "The guys at Andretti have been working really hard all year and everything is just falling into place for us. We were quick every session and we managed to keep on top of the changing conditions on the track, which was the main goal for us because we knew we had the car speed. It was a good, long tough race. It also goes slower when you are out in front. This is great for the championship and I couldn't be happier.”
The battle for second place intensified but the positions remained unchanged, however, so Piedrahita was able to hold on for a well-deserved second-place finish ahead of Pigot and Krohn, who were chased across the line by Juncos Racing teammates Scott Anderson and Diego Ferreira.
Contingency awards included the PFC Award issued to the winning team of Andretti Autosport, the Staubli Award to Piedrahita, and the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award for most positions gained which went to Pigot.
Brabham's fifth consecutive victory vaults him to a 49-point advantage over Ferreira (135) in the standings with Blackstock (118), Pigot (111) and Anderson (95) in a tights point battle for third.
Pro Mazda will be back in action on the streets of Toronto July 13/14 for Rounds 7 and 8.