Northern Ireland’s Wayne Boyd took the lead on the sixth round of the famed Milwaukee Mile oval and held-off a race-long challenge from pole sitter Zach Veach to score an accomplished victory.
The win, a first for him this season and for the newly created Belardi Auto Racing has placed Boyd 4th in the chase for the point’s championship.
Boyd, 20, moved his racing career to the United States for the 2011 season to take advantage of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series, competing with a field of international talent. Boyd arrived in Indianapolis where the team is based, only days before the season opener at Sebring International Raceway.
As a newly formed team, the cars first laps came in the first practice.
Boyd not only needed to learn a new car, but a new track – one which many of his competitors already knew extremely well. Two races were scheduled for the weekend, Race 1 - he would run as high as 2nd but finish 11th (thanks to a little help from competitor Zach Veach), Race 2 - he would finish 6th.
The Streets of St. Petersburg, running with the IZOD Indycar series, held the next two races. Boyd would finish 7th in Race 3, but clearly the new effort was starting gel. He posted his first podium finish in Race 4 with a 3rd.
As the training grounds for the next generation of IndyCar drivers, all of the series in the Mazda Road to Indy run a combination of road courses, street courses and ovals. Race 5 was held at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis, only a few miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the very popular – Night Before the 500 event.
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In preparation for the race, Boyd not only got a little seat time in preparation for his first oval, but he also participated in an oval clinic hosted by Mazda. Indy 500 winners Al Unser, Jr. and Dan Wheldon were on hand to provide some great information for all the Road to Indy drivers, plus give them pace laps on the historic 2.5 mile Indy 500 track.
Lucas Oil Raceway Park is a small oval at only 5/8 mile in length. The banks on the little bowl are significant and take a different driving style to manage. Again, Boyd stepped up and proved himself to be one of the series front runners - all of which were running at new track record pace for the entire almost caution-free race. Wayne would finish 5th.
Which brings us back to Milwaukee…Boyd, now sporting a welcome from the Milwaukee Irish Festival, qualified second and didn’t get the greatest of starts. The third place driver jumped the green flag and the combination meant that the field would go three wide into the first turn. But Boyd on the outside was able to carry more momentum onto the back straightaway, then ducked to the inside of Veach as they swept into Turn 3. He emerged from the exit of 4 as the leader and never looked backed.
“I started on the front row in P2 beside Zach,” Boyd said. “He made a good start and I didn’t. I really struggled and went into the first turn in third or fourth. I had to commit to the outside line and it really paid off. I went around the outside behind Zach and caught a good draft off of him going into 3 and was able to get him on the inside. After that, I just put my head down and kept consistent because I knew Zach had a good pace under him as well. I put my head down, judged the traffic accordingly and it was a good race for us. I want to say a massive thanks to Belardi Auto Racing for all their help. And also a massive thanks to the Milwaukee Irish Fest for their support.”
With half the season still remaining, Boyd is now only 48 points out in the Championship point’s chase.
Next up: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with IZOD Indycar, August 3 – 7th.