ELKHART LAKE, Wis., June 26, 2017 — Kris Wright of Wexford, Pa., recorded a top-10 finish during his inaugural race in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires when he finished tenth Saturday afternoon in the second half of a doubleheader at Road America.
Driving a JDC MotorSports entry sponsored by Esmark Steel Group and PPG, the 22-year-old rookie was running eighth in Saturday's 30-minute race when another driver hit him in the rear going into Turn 6 on lap seven. That brought out the race's second full-course caution flag. Wright was scored in ninth at that point, but he was able to keep going and even regained eighth place when the driver who had been third, T.J. Fischer, stopped on the course around the same time.
Unfortunately on the restart on lap eight, another driver came down on Wright and he spun into a gravel trap, which brought out the third full-course caution and dropped him to 11th place. Although he'd lost positions, he was able to restart the race at the back of the field without losing a lap. When the green came out on lap 10 for one last green-flag lap he passed Kevin Bury to nail down the tenth-place finish. He was 1.5376 seconds ahead of Bury at the checkered on lap 11.
Wright started ninth in that race, but moved into eighth right away when both he and Jeff Green passed Bobby Eberle. The winner of Friday's race, Victor Franzoni, had to start last on Saturday, and he passed Wright on lap two to push him back to ninth place. Wright regained eighth on lap three when Max Hanratty went off course in Canada Corner and retired. Wright remained eighth until he got hit on lap seven.
He started fifth in the first doubleheader race on Friday, ran in sixth place initially, and then dropped to seventh on lap three when Hanratty passed him. He regained sixth on lap seven when Fischer dropped from fourth to ninth. On lap nine he tried a move that didn't work as he'd hoped and he spun and dropped to 15th place, but he passed Bury and Fischer on lap 12 to rise to 13th with 3:12 remaining, and he finished in that position.
"In Saturday's race I was going into Turn 6 and got hit in the rear. Then I got off into a gravel trap when some guy came down on me and I spun, but I got going again and caught back up on the field," Wright explained. "In Friday's race I was learning how to manage my tires, and I tried a few things that didn't quite work and just made some mistakes. But it was a really good weekend learning-wise though," he emphasized. "This is my first race weekend in Pro Mazda and I'll take everything I learned here and try to build on it at the next event."
Wright's only Pro Mazda experience before this weekend was a 20-minute test session a few weeks earlier.
“I’m very proud of the job Kris did this weekend,” said driving coach and personal trainer Nic Jonsson. “He had an impressive drive in both races for his inaugural Pro Mazda race weekend and really worked at learning all the nuances of the new car and building on that in each session. We will continue to work together on his race craft and I believe we’ll see Kris on the podium in this series before year end.”
Wright's fastest race lap on Friday was lap five when he turned a 2:12.655 for an average speed of 108.932 miles per hour around the 4.014-mile, 14-turn road course. His fastest race lap on Saturday was lap three, which was timed in 2:12.736 for an average speed of 108.866 mph. He ran a 2:12.1676 in the first qualifying session, a 2:15.3549 in the second qualifying session, and a 2:32.7969 in the practice session.
The Pro Mazda doubleheader supported Sunday's Verizon IndyCar Series headliner.
The next Pro Mazda event is a tripleheader July 28-30 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Wright will also be in action next weekend when the IMSA Prototype Challenge series visits Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. for two 45-minute races at 2:25 p.m. Friday, June 30 and at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, July 1.
The Pro Mazda races will be shown on Road to Indy TV, the Road to Indy TV app, and dedicated broadcast channels on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and the Xbox One official app.