Kyle Kirkwood is on the move. Just days after Kirkwood of Jupiter, Fla. Took two successful wins at the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires weekend in Detroit, he kept the momentum going by winning again for Andretti Autosport this afternoon. The aspiring open wheel star has yet to be beaten at Road America after sweeping the weekend en route to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2018 and then taking another one-two while at the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. has won the highest honors. Perhaps even more remarkable is that Kirkwood has taken all five wins without even starting from pole position.
After starting from third this afternoon, Kirkwood’s triumph in the first of two races, the the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Road America Powered by AER, catapulting him from third to championship lead after nine of 20 races. It also ensured that after an exciting day of racing on the 4,014 mile road circuit in rural Wisconsin, each of the three rungs on the Road to Indy driver development ladder now has a new leader.
« That first lap was hairy from the start » said Kirkwood, driver of Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15 # 28. “It was six feet wide and I saw Malukas jump outside and Devlin followed him and I was next to Devlin and he ran into me. I backed away in case we got damaged, then Linus and Toby both came flying through – it was kind of a nightmare. It’s the last thing you want to see when you’re in a championship battle. They just want a clean start, and that was the furthest from a clean start I’ve ever seen. We settled into a groove without using push-to-pass because we feel really strong on used tires. It took a couple of nudges to get past Linus, but I was surprised we were able to check out that way.
“The momentum is now showing, even though it really started in Detroit. We saved a set of tires and are one of only four drivers starting with new tires, so it will be a turning point. ”
Danish rookie Benjamin Pedersen took the best second place for Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports of his career, while Robert Megennis of Andretti Autosport of New York, NY, crowned an eventful race by snatching Pedersen’s teammate and former championship leader Linus Lundqvist from Stockholm, Sweden, in third place on the final lap.
“I was just concentrating on doing one lap after the other and keeping the tires running, ”said Pedersen. “The tire management was huge, the push-to-pass management was huge, the execution of passes was huge – so in retrospect everything was really well put together for us. The team gave me a fantastic car, everything just fell into my hands. Hats off to Linus, he kept it super clean – he could easily have pushed me far. I took my opportunity when I had it and I’m looking forward to fighting him again. «
It was another Andretti Autosport attack, Danial Frost from Singapore starting from pole position, after winning his first Indy Lights Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying on Friday. Unfortunately, Frost’s fate changed only a few hundred meters after the start when he made contact with David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) from the front row, who was trying to perform an outside line pass at Turn 1.
Frost had to pits for repairs , while Malukas of Chicago, Illinois also slipped backwards, effectively undoing his hopes of a championship deficit from one point on Lundqvist, who started fifth.
Qualifiers Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) from the second row from Miami, Florida, and Kirkwood both had to dodge, which allowed Englishman Toby Sowery, who started sixth on the grid for Juncos Racing, to prevail inside and take the lead as the cars descended towards Turn 3 fell.
Sowery led the first two laps before being overtaken by Lundqvist, who in turn was soon attacked by the recovering Kirkwood n was. Two laps later, Kirkwood took full advantage of the push-to-pass functionality of his AER engine by pulling past on the descent towards Turn 5 to take a lead he never seemed to lose.
Victory of Kirkwood’s stellar Road to Indy career was enough to break the previous record of 24 set by former Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights Champion Spencer Pigot.
« It’s nice on the resume standing doesn’t hurt, but you always want more wins, « said Kirkwood. « We’re ahead of the game as Spencer did it in five years and we’re only two and a half years in. »
Australian Alex Peroni used the gimmicks in the first corner to jump from ninth to fourth place. Then he overtook Lundqvist for second place before the gearbox of his Carlin Dallara started to malfunction and finally stopped completely.
Lundqvist came second again, but came under increasing pressure from team-mate Pedersen and Megennis, who started from eighth and had lost two places in the first lap before working their way back into the competition. Pedersen finally ousted Lundqvist from second place with an opportunistic outside move in Turn 5 with one and a half laps to go to secure the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting in 10th place.
Megennis also had the bit firmly between them Teeth and braked Lundqvist also in turn 5 on the last lap to third place.
« That first lap was terrible, » said Megennis. “I lost the track, Sting Ray (Robb) pushed me away, I was in contact with Christian. It was out of control; I don’t know how I got no harm. After that, I had a great car under me and kept doing laps. I had no idea where I was, I just walked past everyone I met. I used my last push-to-pass to bypass Linus – I knew this was my last chance and I had to take it. The car was fantastic; I’m so glad we tested here. It’s great to have some momentum and to feel quick and to know that we can come back tomorrow and win. ”
Sowery slipped back to fifth at the finish ahead of Canadian Antonio Serravalle, who is responsible for his family-run Pserra Racing / AS Promotions-Team achieved their best result of the season by defying a challenge from the recovering Malukas in the closing stages.
Polesitter Frost’s disappointing afternoon ended with an unrepresentative 11th place, despite his best time has another chance at stardom in a separate qualifying this morning. For the second race of the weekend, which starts tomorrow at 8:50 a.m. CDT, Frost will therefore start from pole position.
Preliminary championship points after 9 of 20 races:
1. Kyle Kirkwood, 218
2. Linus Lundqvist, 210
3. David Malukas, 204 years old
4. Toby Sowery, 163
5. Devlin DeFrancesco, 141
6. Benjamin Pedersen, 138
7. Alex Peroni, 136
8. Robert Megennis, 131
9. Danial Frost, 130
10. Sting Ray Robb, 107
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