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MRTI Season Finale Race Recap at Watkins Glen International

Juan Piedrahita

No. 2 Polipetrosur Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 13th / Finished 9th

  • The No. 2 Polipetrosur machine remarkably scored a top-ten finish after an incident filled practice for the single-car team.

  • After a brief red flag in Race 1 due to standing water, Piedrahita laid down his fastest lap time (2:01.2605) on Lap 24.

“It was a tough weekend for the whole team. We struggled with pace all weekend long and couldn’t figure it out. It’s sad we couldn’t finish the season on a high, but the team did an outstanding job all year long. The team deserved more through the season for sure.”


Nikita Lastochkin

No. 80 Russkaya Mekhanika Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 5th / Finished 13th

Race 2: Qualified 3rd / Finished 4th

  • Despite an unfortunate race incident with teammate Robert Megennis in Race 1, Lastochkin persevered in the second qualifying session, placing third on the starting grid for Race 2.

  • Lastochkin made an outstanding comeback in Race 2, settling into a good rhythm behind the leading trio and pulling away from the cars behind.

“It was definitely not the weekend that I was hoping to end the season with, being tangled up in another car wreck was a shame, but had good experience with a wet Race 2.”


Carlos Cunha

No. 81 Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 3rd / Finished 3rd
Race 2: Qualified 2nd / Finished 2nd

  • The 17-year-old Brazilian had an exceptional weekend with a third-place finish in Race 1 and collected his first second-place finish during a wet Race 2.

  • Cunha had the quickest lap time of the 13 competitors in Race 2 with a 1:59.8161 on Lap 18.

 “I don’t know the words to express what I am feeling now because it is amazing. It was an incredible weekend. I think we’ve become a lot stronger in this last part of the season. Team Pelfrey did awesome work on the setup. I’ve learned a lot with these guys. I just need to say thank you because it was incredible. I think the most important part of this weekend was the first practice, I had a good lap where I was five-tenths of a second less than Victor, we thought we could have a good weekend and we did. It was just amazing, I just want to say thank you. It was amazing, thank you.”


TJ Fischer

No. 82 Project 02 Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 4th / Finished 10th

Race 2: Qualified 12th / Finished 5th

  • Fischer had an impressive start to Race 2 after starting at the rear of the field. The 24-year-old Californian passed a race-high of seven positions on the opening lap, resulting in a top-five finish.

  • Despite an unfortunate mechanical issue in Race 1, Fischer showed strong pace collecting the Hard Charger Award after qualifying 12th in Race 2.

“Season finale didn’t exactly go as we would’ve liked as we had some struggles. Qualifying (for Race 1) we were P4, once we were in the race we had a decent start, then had a motor issue so didn’t get to finish the Race 1. We fell behind and were just trying to pull our way back up, then it started raining, had some issues in qualifying and started dead last, but worked our way up to fifth so we got the hard charger which is great.  Tough deal, but I think it’s the best we could’ve gotten out of it for the last race in Pro Mazda.”


Robert Megennis:

No. 84 Palo Alto Networks Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 6th / Finished 12th

  • Megennis made his first Pro Mazda start Saturday after competing in the USF2000 Championship series full-time in the 2017 season.

  • As a rookie to the Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires series, Megennis qualified sixth next to his teammate, Nikita Lastochkin, for his first double duty weekend.

 “My first time in the Pro Mazda was great until it wasn't. The car was super fun to drive! It was definitely a step up from USF2000, but I loved it. We showed good speed in qualifying, securing a 6th place finish for the race. Had a great start in race 1, moving up from 6th to 4th. I ran fourth for the first lap until I made a mistake and ended up in the wall. The damage wasn't repairable to race in the second race of the weekend, but I still really enjoyed the Pro Mazda. It was a great experience for me not only racing a new car, but racing that alongside the USF2000 this weekend. Can't thank Team Pelfrey and Palo Alto Networks enough for putting that all together and getting me out in not one, but TWO cars.”


Robert Megennis:

No. 80 Palo Alto Networks Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 20th / Finished 10th

  • After an early incident leaving the pits during qualifying, Megennis was forced to start from the back of the field, however he showed good pace advancing ten positions during the 30-minute feature race.

“A USF2000 car around Watkins Glen is just plain awesome. It's so fast! The weekend didn't start out great. A crash in qualifying set me to the back of the field for the race. We raced forward however, and moved up ten spots in the race from 20th to 10th. I made some great moves, and showed good pace! We had more pace, but we did everything we could and raced hard. Thanks to Team Pelfrey and Palo Alto Networks for a great year. Couldn't have done it with all of you.”


Kaylen Frederick

No. 81 Pilot ONE Racing Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 5th / Finished 4th

  • Frederick, 15, added another top-five finish to his Mazda Road to Indy record with a solid performance as he secured fourth position behind Calvin Ming of Pabst Racing.

  • During Saturday morning qualifying, Frederick recorded his fastest lap times after a quick pit stop for fresh Cooper Tires enabling Frederick to start on the inside of row three for Race 1.

“Started out a bit slow this weekend getting used to the USF car again. When it came to qualifying, I couldn't generate enough heat in the tires as it was cold and early in the morning. After a P5 starting position in the race a jumped up to 4th on the start, and held my ground. The team has really given it their all this season and I couldn't ask for more.”


Phillippe Denes

No. 82 Team Pelfrey Mazda

Race 1: Qualified 13th / Finished 13th

  • Denes joined his 2016 Laguna Seca teammates for the second time this season with a consistent performance, qualifying 13th and held the position during the 30-minute contest.

 “For the season finale, we didn't get the results we were looking for, finishing in 13th was far from what we wanted. Nonetheless, I'm so thankful for everyone at Team Pelfrey for all their hard work and dedication.”


Team Pelfrey concludes the 2017 season winning the team Pro Mazda Championship. Visit or follow @TeamPelfrey on social media for off-season updates.


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