Something had to give way. Kyle Kirkwood and Linus Lundqvist tied on points at the start of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix in Mid-Ohio this weekend. Both behind David Malukas in pursuit of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title and a $ 1.3 million scholarship to advance to the NTT IndyCar Series in 2022.
Kirkwood of Jupiter, Florida was in his Career from Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires on the hilly 2,258 mile road circuit with 13 corners has never been beaten and won the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship three times in 2018 and the Road to Indy Pro 2000 Championship twice. Presented by Cooper Tires in 2019, while the Swede Linus Lundqvist had won all three races of the Formula Regional Americas last year on his only previous visit.
Today Kirkwood again asserted his authority and won comfortably from pole position to take the points ahead of Malukas (HMD Motorsports), who finished third behind Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport team-mate Danial Frost from Singapore. Lundqvist couldn’t do better than fourth place in his Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports Dallara-AER IL-15.
« After a not so great race at Road America, it’s nice to come back here and take a win » said Kirkwood. “Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite tracks and it’s nice to win here. We knew we were strong here after the test. That was a perfect race, but David really kept me busy for the first 10 laps. As the track gained grip, I gained confidence, especially after seeing David make that little mistake. The Andretti cars have been on the rails for the last four weekends and we really had a race pace today. I have a feeling this should be our fifth win in a row and it feels really good to get back to the top of the points after finishing tenth at Road America – everything clicks and I feel like we’re back on track . We have some good weekends ahead of us. ”
Great double victory for @KKirkwoodRacing and @Danial_Frost in today’s @ IndyLights race here in @Mid_Ohio! Let’s do it again tomorrow !! 💪🏻🍾🏆💪🏻🍾🏆
Kirkwood, 22, announced his intentions early, set the fastest times on Thursday and Friday tests and clinched his third Cooper Tires pole in qualifying yesterday Award.
He continued his commanding form this afternoon, taking the lead at the start and never looked like he was going to give up the point. Malukas, 18, of Chicago, Illinois, pursued hard early on, staying just a second behind Kirkwood until he made a mistake and slipped off course at Turn 9. Malukas was lucky enough to avoid contact with the barriers and so the pace was the front runner that he managed to get back on the tarmac with only one position lost – Frost.
« Everything has to go perfectly to get a pass here and Kyle really got me pushing, « Malukas said. “Everything felt great, but I went a bit offline through the four and five and into the high-speed corner 9. The rear just picked up a lot of dust and gave way. I had a great moment and I picked up and it never came back. When I got over the ridge, my only thought was not to hit the wall. It was unfortunate. I was sad, but I recovered. After all that, I’m happy with P3 and we will now go back and see what we can do with the setup before tomorrow. ”
Kirkwood continued on his happy path and finally set the checkered flag safe from Frost, who took off was pleased to get his best career result to date and finish second on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in April.
« We got off to a decent start and we got away from the guys behind, so it just was a question of concentration ahead, ”said Frost. “I did my best to get past Malukas, but then he made a little mistake and I got the position. I am very happy. I think that was the maximum we could achieve today. The attack on Kyle was going to be difficult because we were a bit behind him. But I’m starting from pole tomorrow and it’s hard to overtake here so I think we have good chances. But congratulations to Kyle on his win today. ”
Frost will have another opportunity to pursue his first Indy Lights win tomorrow morning when he starts from pole position in a separate qualifying this morning after taking the fastest time – a little faster than pole position for today’s race.
The unbeaten series of Lundqvist in Mid-Ohio was stopped with his fourth place, just ahead of the Italian-Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) and Englishman Toby Sowery, who deservedly won the Tilton Hard Charger Award after working hard on his Juncos Racing Dallara sixth after start nine.
Sowery made up two positions on the first lap, but found for him Danes Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports) a much tougher nut. Eventually, with 10 laps remaining, Sowery squeezed past turn four with a bold sideline. Sowery then steadily reduced a gap of more than three seconds on DeFrancesco, but he didn’t have time to seriously strive for fifth place.
The green flag for tomorrow’s 12th round of the Indy Lights season is Scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT, just before the NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 headline event.
Preliminary championship points after 11 of 20 races:
1. Kyle Kirkwood, 259
2. David Malukas, 257
3. Linus Lundqvist, 246
4. Toby Sowery, 186
5. Danial Frost, 178
6. Devlin DeFrancesco, 173
7. Robert Megennis, 169 years
8. Alex Peroni, 167 years old
9. Benjamin Pedersen, 166
10. Sting Ray Robb, 129
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