What looked like an exciting end to qualifying for Saturday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Foundation Building Materials race was cut short due to a red flag.
No complaints from Kyle Kirkwood, though. The 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, who led the first practice session, turned a lap at 65.1334 seconds to win his first Indy Lights pole. It’s also Kirkwood’s first pole at his home race.
It was a much-needed bounce back after an unremarkable season opener at Barber Motorsports Park for the Jupiter, Fla. driver. The 22-year-old’s first Indy Lights pole is his 12th career Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires pole and the 37th in his North American Junior Open Wheel career.
The pole is the ninth in “St. Pete” for Andretti Autosport. Interesting to note that nine different drivers have captured those nine poles. Kirkwood joins Marco Andretti, Oliver Askew, Colton Herta, J.R. Hildebrand, Raphael Matos, Carlos Munoz, Pato O’Ward, and Sebastian Saavedra as Andretti Autosport pole winners.
HMD Motorsports sophomore David Malukas just missed out on winning his second pole in as many races. The Chicago, Ill. native’s lap was only eight-hundredths-of-a-second behind Kirkwood.
Rounding out the top five, and all within 0.3 seconds of the pole, are Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport teammates Devlin DeFrancesco, Danial Frost, and Robert Megennis.
Points leader Linus Lundqvist (Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports) will start outside the third row in his first North American street circuit race.
Only 1.1 seconds covered the entire field.
When the first of two 30-minute Friday afternoon Indy Lights qualifying sessions got underway, the ambient temperature was 79F, and the track temperature was a steamy 121F.
At various points during a busy first half of qualifying, Peroni, Malukas, Kirkwood, Lundqvist, and Frost all held the provisional pole.
Frost’s provisional pole lap of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street circuit at the halfway point of the 30-minute qualifying sessions was 65.2802 seconds.
Following in the top five and all within two-tenths-of-a-second of Frost were Malukas, Kirkwood, Lundqvist, and DeFrancesco. Twelve of the 13 entries were all within a nine-tenths-of-a-second of the provisional pole.
In the minutes surrounding the session’s halfway point, the field came in for fresh Cooper Tire slicks.
With seven minutes remaining in qualifying, the tires entered their optimal operating zone, and the timing screen lit up green as laps times began to fall.
With just under five minutes remaining in the session and with times continuing to fall, the red flag came out for Carlin’s Alex Peroni.
The Blundstone/Tasmania/RDM Fast Ferries sponsored No. 5 IL-15 made contact with the barriers outside of Turn 8 with damage to the nose.
With not enough time to get the car on the hook and turn a lap at speed, the checkered flag came out.
Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Foundation Building Materials unofficial qualifying results.
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||28||Kyle Kirkwood||Andretti Autosport||1:05.1334||—|
|2||79||David Malukas||HMD Motorsports||1:05.2134||0.0800|
|3||17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||1:05.2570||0.1236|
|4||68||Danial Frost||Andretti Autosport||1:05.2802||0.1468|
|5||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||1:05.4122||0.2788|
|6||26||Linus Lundqvist||Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports||1:05.4696||0.3362|
|8||24||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports||1:05.7290||0.5956|
|9||11||Antonio Serravalle||Pserra Racing||1:05.8379||0.7045|
|10||59||Nikita Lastochkin||HMD Motorsports||1:05.9219||0.7885|
|11||51||Toby Sowery||Juncos Racing||1:05.9436||0.8102|
|12||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||1:06.1283||0.9949|