It says something about Kyle Kirkwood’s hot streak in Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires that winning “only” five races in a row and seven of eight could be viewed as secondary to his 2018 achievements. Last year in Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship competition, Kirkwood won 11 in a row and 12 total including the last two races at Portland International Raceway.
Nonetheless, Kirkwood’s latest triumph for RP Motorsport Racing today in Portland moved the American into the points lead for the first time this season as he seeks another advancement scholarship into Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for 2020.
With Kirkwood’s 19th win in 27 career Road to Indy starts, and with Rasmus Lindh suffering his worst finish of the season, Kirkwood provisionally holds a nine-point lead after today’s race.
The track remained hot as the 13 Indy Pro 2000 runners took to the track just after 5:15 p.m. PDT and local time to fire up their 2.0L Elite Engines.
With Sting Ray Robb on pole ahead of the RP Motorsport Racing pair of Kyle Kirkwood and Artem Petrov, it was a slightly jumbled grid up front. Robb’s Juncos Racing teammate Rasmus Lindh would start only seventh.
Robb got the brief jump over Kirkwood on the start into Turn 1, but before the race really got going there was an eight-car incident at the corner.
The field fanned out six to seven wide on entry, with Petrov knocking Robb into a spin at the Festival Curves and setting off a chain reaction by those drivers behind them. Kirkwood darted to the inside and got ahead of the mess that would occur momentarily.
Among those off course either involved or by taking evasive action included Parker Thompson, Antonio Serravalle, Robb, Antoine Comeau, both DEForce cars of Moises de la Vara and Kory Enders, and then series debutante Matt Round-Garrido.
The running order after the chaotic first lap was Kirkwood, Danial Frost, Lindh, Serravalle, Abel, Lastochkin, Thompson, Robb, de la Vara, Round-Garrido, Petrov, Enders and Comeau.
By Lap 5 the order was Kirkwood leading Frost by just over one second, with Lindh up to third ahead of Serravalle and Abel.
Behind them, Thompson, Lastochkin, Robb, de la Vara, Petrov, Enders, Comeau and Round-Garrido completed the running order.
Meanwhile Petrov was assessed a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, and served it on Lap 6.
On Lap 9, Serravalle got around Lindh for third and Abel was closing on Lindh into Turn 1.
The order a third of the way through the race on Lap 10 was Kirkwood leading Frost by 2.8611 seconds, with Serravalle third just over eight seconds in arrears. Lindh continued to hold back Abel. Robb’s hopes dwindled again when he pitted on Lap 12 and fell further down the order.
Thompson was now fifth having got around his teammate Abel and is now charging and hunting down Lindh, running 1.1 seconds faster than the Swedish driver. Thompson darts to the inside of Lindh and passes him into Turn 1 for fourth place.
Halfway home, the order is Kirkwood leading Frost by over seven seconds with Serravalle third, Thompson fourth and Lindh fifth with Abel, Lastochkin, de la Vara, Robb and Petrov completing the top 10.
Robb, Petrov, Enders and Comeau are all a lap or more down and Kirkwood was closing on Robb to try to lap him once more.
After a frenetic opening two-thirds of the race, the race stabilized into the final 10 laps. Thompson was working to close on Serravalle for third. Otherwise the order remained static.
With five to go, Kirkwood’s lead stood at 11.1903 seconds with the order still the same behind him.
Kirkwood took the white flag with a 12-second lead over Frost, with Serravalle, Thompson and Lindh still in the top five.
And he took the checkered flag with a final margin of victory of 12.3497 seconds over Frost, with Serravalle capturing his first Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires podium in a well deserved third.
Edit: After the race it was revealed that Serravalle was hit with a 10-second penalty for an improper re-entry after the Lap 1, Turn 1 incident. That promoted Parker Thompson to the final spot on the podium and moved Serravalle to fourth.
Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Portland GP Race #1 – Unofficial Results
|1||28||Kyle Kirkwood||RP Motorsport USA||30|
|2||68||Danial Frost||Exclusive Autosport||30||12.3497|
|3||11||Antonio Serravalle||Pserra Racing/RP Motorsports USA||30||18.8289|
|4||8||Parker Thompson||Abel Motorsports||30||21.7556|
|5||10||Rasmus Lindh||Juncos Racing||30||35.2033|
|6||90||Nikita Lastochkin||Exclusive Autosport||30||39.7415|
|7||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||30||40.5314|
|8||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||30||64.9424|
|9||6||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||29||1 LAPS|
|10||5||Artem Petrov||RP Motorsport USA||29||1 LAPS|
|11||7||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||28||2 LAPS|
|12||3||Antoine Comeau||Turn 3 Motorsport||28||2 LAPS|
|13||27||Matt Round-Garrido||Jay Howard Driver Development/BN Racing||4||Mechanical|
Tomorrow’s second race of the weekend is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. PDT, following the conclusion of the NTT IndyCar Series race.