Freedom 100: Leist conquers Indy with victory on oval debut
Matheus Leist drove Carlin Racing to Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, holding off strong challenges from Aaron Telitz and Dalton Kellett, who swapped places on the final lap.
At the start Carlin Racing’s polesitter Leist burst into the lead with teammate Zachary Claman De Melo bursting through from the second row to claim second.
However, at Turn 3, Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta appeared to squeeze down on Andretti Autosport teammate Kellett, whose right-front wheel made contact with Herta’s left rear, sending the #98 car broadside across the track where he rammed their teammate Ryan Norman hard into the outside wall. Herta and Norman were out on the spot.
That left the restart running order Leist, Claman De Melo, Kellett, a third Carlin car of Neil Alberico, Telitz in the Belardi Autosport machine, Juan Piedrahita in Team Pelfrey’s lead car, Garth Rickards in a fourth Carlin entry, Shelby Blackstock and Santi Urrutia (both Belardi), with Nico Jamin’s Andretti Autosport car up to 10th.
The green flag dropped on Lap 5, and Alberico immediately went around the outside of Kellett to make it a Carlin 1-2-3, but Kellett reversed the move on the outside on Lap 7, and soon the #22 Carlin machine was under pressure from Telitz. The reigning Pro Mazda champion passed him to grab fourth on Lap 8 and soon moved onto Kellett’s tail.
However, Kellett pulled away once more and grabbed second down the back straight on Lap 13. He now had 0.6sec to make up but no cars to pass to reach the tail of leader Leist, while behind him, Claman De Melo fell to fifth behind Telitz and Alberico.
Telitz grabbed second from Kellett down into Turn 3 on Lap 19, and the following lap was only 0.35sec behind leader Leist, a gap he trimmed by a further tenth of a second the following lap.
Further back Urrutia got ahead of Piedrahita and was within 0.35 of fifth-placed Claman De Melo.
On Lap 30, Telitz looked able to close on Leist through every turn, but got major push in Turn 2. However on Lap 33, he was close enough to run around the outside, side by side for two corners. When the move failed, Telitz fell back behind Kellett, while Urrrutia moved past Alberico to fourth on lap 36. He promptly threw it away with a wall-slap however, and rapidly fell back.
Up front, Kellett appeared to have nothing for Leist, but his efforts instead lost him momentum down on the apron, handing second place back to Telitz.
Leist’s winning margin was 0.776sec, with Kellett a mere 0.064s behind Telitz. Alberico was a further 1.5sec adrift, with Urrutia seven seconds down, his damaged car almost losing fifth to Claman De Melo.
Rickards took seventh, ahead of Piedrahita, championship leader Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing and Jamin 10th.
|6||13||Zachary Claman DeMelo||10.3970|
|13||98||Colton Herta||40 laps|
|14||48||Ryan Norman||40 laps|
Leist takes pole for Freedom 100
Catching up with Matheus Leist the Freedom 100 victor