Portland Indy Lights: Kirkwood defies odds, defeats HMD trio

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood pulled off a stunning pass on Lap 2 to snatch the lead of the race and close the points margin on polesitter David Malukas.

Portland Indy Lights: Kirkwood defies odds, defeats HMD trio

HMD Motorsports’ polesitter David Malukas eased into the lead straight away at the drop of the green with teammate Linus Lundqvist taking second.

Behind them, Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood beat the other Global Racing Group/HMD car of Benjamin Pedersen into the chicane to snatch third and then hung on to the tail of Lundqvist, who was the only driver on fresh tires and who was able to easily keep pace with Malukas around the 1.964-mile course on that opening lap.

Down the pitstraight to start Lap 2, Kirkwood looked like he might try and pass Lundqvist but instead it was the Swede who swung to the right to attempt a move on the leader. Malukas moved right to protect his line, Lundqvist stayed right, but locked his right-front into the braking zone and mounted the curb to avoid running into his teammate.

Both lost momentum through the chicane, and Kirkwood, who’d backed off to allow his rivals to compromise each other, simply took the conventional line and passed the pair of them exiting Turn 2 – a clear case of both wisdom and opportunism.

Malukas wasn’t going to let Kirkwood go, however, and initially had better pace. For the next three laps he was close enough to pressure Kirkwood into Turn 1, but the Andretti driver never felt threatened enough to move off line. By Lap 6, Kirkwood had pulled more than half a second clear, and Malukas was having to start checking his mirrors for not only Lundqvist but also Pedersen.

Already, this quartet had pulled a gap on three more Andretti cars – Robert Megennis, Devlin DeFrancesco (up from eighth) and Danial Frost. Yesterday’s Lights debutant Rasmus Lindh was given a drive-through penalty for running into the back of his Juncos Hollinger teammate Sting Ray Robb on the opening lap, bending its rear wing.

After a very hard scrap, Frost wrested sixth away from DeFrancesco on Lap 22, the same lap that their teammate Kirkwood pushed his lead over Malukas past the two-second barrier. Malukas had a similar margin over Lundqvist who in turn had a 2.5sec margin over Pedersen.

That’s how it played out to the flag, with Kirkwood scoring a superb seventh Lights victory to trim the championship lead of yesterday’s winner Malukas down to five points.

P

Name

Laps

Diff

Led

ST

Team

Points

1

Kyle Kirkwood

30

LAP 30

29

4

Andretti Autosport

424

2

David Malukas

30

2.5623

1

1

HMD Motorsports

429

3

Linus Lundqvist

30

4.9886

 

2

Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports

356

4

Benjamin Pedersen

30

7.4706

 

3

Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports

283

5

Robert Megennis

29

14.4574

 

5

Andretti Autosport

259

6

Danial Frost

29

16.5311

 

6

Andretti Autosport

272

7

Devlin DeFrancesco

29

19.3677

 

8

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

269

8

Christian Bogle

29

37.6582

 

11

Carlin

187

9

Rasmus Lindh

29

51.9089

 

10

Juncos Hollinger Racing

26

10

Manuel Sulaiman

28

1 LAPS

 

9

HMD Motorsports

26

11

Sting Ray Robb

17

12 LAPS

 

7

Juncos Hollinger Racing

191

 

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