Mid-Ohio Indy Lights: McElrea dominates, beats Brabham
Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea looked as dominant in the Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio as he had in qualifying, leading all the way and surviving a late-race restart to hold on ahead of teammate Matt Brabham.
From pole, McElrea staved off the challenge of Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing at Turn 4, while Matthew Brabham moved his Andretti entry pass the Global Racing HMD car of Benjamin Pedersen on Lap 1 and then took Lundqvist on Lap 2.
In fact, Lundqvist had to then work hard to hold off teammate Pedersen, the latter dropping wheels in the dirt trying to get through. Meanwhile another HMD driver, Danial Frost, suffered a mechanical issue, losing power and trailing into the pits on Lap 3.
Over the opening nine laps, McElrea edged away from Brabham, building a lead of 3.5 seconds, but Brabham dropped Lundqvist even more rapidly, with 5.5sec between them. Having been deterred by Lundqvist, Pedersen had to turn his attention to his mirrors, which were full of the two Andretti cars of Sting Ray Robb and Road America winner Christian Rasmussen, and the Abel Motorsports machine of Jacob Abel.
It was Rasmussen who made the first move, diving past Robb for fifth on Lap 18, and then immediately setting his fastest lap to close on Pedersen who by now had fallen three seconds behind Lundqvist. After 23 laps, Rasmussen was indeed threatening Pedersen’s fourth place, while up front McElrea had a seven-second advantage over Brabham who was 10sec up on Lundqvist.
Then on Lap 23, out came the full-course yellow when James Roe dropped his TJ Speed Motorsports into the sandtrap at Turn 1.
The Lap 25 restart saw no immediate change in order, but Rasmussen charged past Pedersen two laps later to snatch fourth, leaving the HMD driver at the mercy of Robb. Up front, McElrea took five laps to pull a second clear of Brabham but he made no mistakes, set his fastest lap on the final lap and won by 2.68sec, his first win at this level. Around 4.4sec behind, Lundqvist took third ahead of Rasmussen.
Robb robbed Pedersen for fifth on the final lap after a lock-up for the GRG/HMD driver, while Abel spun, allowing Christian Bogle into seventh, Antionio Serravalle into eighth, Kyffin Simpson into ninth and Ernie Francis Jr. into 10th.
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