07.22.2016 – If you were to have asked me after the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway in May to predict how the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires would have played out, I would have handed the title over to Team Pelfrey’s Pato O’Ward and told you we would likely see him break the single-season victory record. Pato had won six of the first seven races and he looked dominant and unbeatable. Who would have thought any different? But, when we arrived at Road America, things took an abrupt about-face. Aaron Telitz owned the weekend in Wisconsin and turned the wave of momentum in his direction. This continued on the streets of Toronto as Telitz stretched his win-streak to four, pulling into a tie for the point lead with five races to go. All bets are off….the season starts now with just a handful of battles still to be waged.
As for the #Insider Star of the Race for the opening Pro Mazda battle in Toronto, I was super impressed with the mental strength of Juncos Racing’s Jake Parsons. The Aussie was the first Pro Mazda driver to clout the Turn 11 concrete in the opening practice on Friday, severely damaging the tub of his car, putting it out of commission. After jumping into the ex-Garett Grist #5, Jake continued to push the limits of the track and got into the wall on the outside of Turn 1 at the end of Saturday morning qualifying after securing the fourth quickest time of the session. Jake pushes 100% all the time and I like trait that in a driver. Amazingly, he came back after these hard shunts to finish third in the opening race of the doubleheader on Saturday. I think he could have taken a ‘pass’ to back off a little after his meetings with the Toronto concrete, but instead, he showed us his mental toughness and re-paid his hard-working crew with a huge podium finish. Parsons followed up his third on Saturday with a fourth on Sunday. Considering how his weekend began, these were tremendous results.
Sunday’s Pro Mazda race saw another win for Aaron Telitz, the return of Pato O’Ward to the podium, and the continuing emergence of Nico Jamin. But do you know who really impressed me? Bobby Eberle. I’m blown away by the level of commitment to racecraft that Eberle is displaying this year and the coaching he is getting from CR Crews is paying off. Eberle joined JDC MotorSports earlier this year and it’s been a great fit for the 48-year-old. In Toronto, Bobby went quicker in virtually every session, pushing his personal limits to a new level. In the Sunday morning Race #2, he got a great start and worked his way up to sixth, which began a multi-lap fight with a couple of the young guns on the series. Eberle not only wants to win the National class, but he wants to raise his game so he can fight for position with the ‘kids’. For the first time in his Pro Mazda career, he did just that on Sunday in Toronto. That’s ‘Star’ worthy in my books.