Gateway Indy Lights: Malukas beats Kirkwood after hard scrap
For the second straight day, David Malukas prevailed over Kyle Kirkwood, and again the race was ended early due to tire problems.
Given the tire issues in Friday’s race, it was decided by Indy Lights series that today’s race would be reduced from 75 to 70 laps, and would be red-flagged at half-distance. Cars would then be made to stop in their pitbox to change right-side tires, and make no other changes or adjustments. Teams that elected to take more than those two right-side tires would be forced to start from the rear of the field.
From pole, Kyle Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport car comfortably took the lead ahead of David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) with Benjamin Pedersen of Global Racing Group HMD haunting Malukas from the word go. Pedersen’s teammate Linus Lundqvist had switched to a back-up car after his tub-destroying shunt while running second yesterday, and he ran a lonely fourth, well ahead of Danial Frost who was working to hold off fellow Andretti driver Devlin DeFrancesco. The fourth Andretti car of Robert Megennis had climbed from 12th to seventh.
Kirkwood was in no hurry to escape from his pursuers knowing the race would be put on hold on Lap 35. A yellow for debris came out on Lap 32, allowing the red flag to occur even sooner than planned.
The restart was single-file, and the order continued to be Kirkwood, Malukas, Pedersen, Lundqvist, Frost and DeFrancesco. However, Kirkwood couldn’t escape from Malukas and after three thrilling laps of side-by-side action – Malukas on the outside, Kirkwood on the inside – finally saw the HMD driver prevail at Turn 3.
The pair hadn’t held up each other too badly and so Kirkwood remained unthreatened by Pedersen. In fact, Kirkwood regathered his momentum able to stay within 0.6sec of the new leader and the pair of them pulled two seconds on Pedersen.
With 16 laps to go, DeFrancesco carried more momentum than Frost through Turns 3 and 4 and drafted past his teammate to snatch fifth. Frost then pitted for new tires, part of one tire having delaminated.
A couple of laps later, out came the yellow for debris, and as per yesterday’s race, the decision was taken to wave the checkered flag early, the tire issue clearly remaining a factor.
The sixth win of the season for Malukas lifts him to three points ahead of Kirkwood.
Gateway Indy Lights: Malukas wins, beats Kirkwood, Pedersen
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