Iowa Indy Lights: McElrea wins after Lundqvist-Brabham clash

Polesitter Hunter McElrea scored the second win of his career at Iowa after late leader Linus Lundqvist squeezed challenger Matt Brabham into a wall and was penalized.

Hunter McElrea, Andretti Autosport

From the start of the race, polesitter McElrea’s Andretti Autosport machine led from Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing, and Sting Ray Robb in third in another Andretti machine. The man on the move, however, was Matthew Brabham, racing up from eighth into fourth in the space of five laps, pursued by Danial Frost.

Frost had to move into defensive mode one third of the way into the 75-lap race, as Christian Rasmussen in another Andretti car but his efforts failed and Rasmussen made a brave inside pass at Turn 3 on Lap 27 to claim fifth.

Up front, McElrea was struggling to lap backmarker Kyffin Simpson by Lap 30, and his loss of momentum meant he and Lundqvist went side by side for a whole lap, allowing Robb and Brabham to close in.

In fact, Robb, briefly snatched second before Lundqvist redressed the balance. Robb instead had to focus on his mirrors because teammate Brabham was filling them, and after some more edgy side-by-side action, Brabham nudged ahead into third, just before James Roe crashed at Turn 2 and brought out the caution flag.

McElrea fumbled the restart, sliding wide as he applied the power, and Lundqvist zoomed past into the lead, while at Turn 3 Brabham had dived down the inside of Lundqvist to take second. McElrea could not summon the speed to go with the lead pair, but remained comfortably ahead of Robb, Rasmussen and Frost.

With 15 laps to go, as Lundqvist closed on Antonio Serravalle, Brabham closed on the leader, while further back Jacob Abel moved his Abel Motorsport car past Frost to claim sixth. On Lap 67, Rasmusen took Robb for fourth.

Even with Serravalle moving politely aside for the leaders, Brabham closed on Lundqvist, and dived down his inside. However, the Andretti car got twitchy as he was forced to pinch his exit because Lundqvist was hanging on around the outside.

Brabham regathered his momentum and made another attempt, this time around the outside around Turns 1 and 2. On the exit of T2, Lundqvist said he was informed by his spotter that he was clear, and so he moved up the track, and that pushed Brabham into the wall, heavily damaging his front wing.

Lundqvist continued unharmed and passed the checkered flag first, but Brabham dropped down to fourth with his heavily compromised handling.

Race Control penalized Lundqvist dropping him to fourth and so McElrea claimed the second win of his Lights career, and headed an Andretti 1-2-3 ahead of Rasmussen and a deeply disappointed but self-controlled Brabham.


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