Indy Lights driver Kyle Kirkwood interviewed by NBC Sports prior to a race at Barber Motorsports Park Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

With only 40 minutes of practice, the lone practice session for the Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Detroit Presented By Cooper Tires doubleheader, it was necessary to 1) set a positive tone for the weekend and 2) keep it off concrete walls.

For Andretti Autosport rookie Kyle Kirkwood, who turned in a last-second lap timed at 84.2423 seconds to lead practice, it was mission accomplished.

For the points leader, HMD Motorsports veteran David Malukas, it was a very different story. The 19-year-old made moderate contact with the concrete barriers and was only able to complete four laps. The crew will have some work to do before qualifying gets underway in four hours. Compounding his issues is the fact that the four drivers most closely pursuing him were all in the top five.

Kirkwood was followed by his fellow rookie teammate Danial Frost, who only six-hundredths of a second off the top spot.

Rounding out that top five were Alex Peroni (Carlin), Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing), and Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/ Global Racing Group).

The session got started under sunny skies with the ambient temperature at a comfortable 74F. The track temperature was 86F.

At the eight-minute mark of the 40-minute session, the red flag came out for points leader Malukas, whose HMD Trucking Sponsored No. 79 came to a halt on the driver’s left at the exit of Turn 13. The Chicago, Ill. driver appeared to catch the curb on the inside of the corner. He got oversteer with the rear end of the car hitting the concrete barrier. That turned the front of the car into the barrier, folding the suspension over the nose of his IL-15.

Kirkwood was the quickest driver at that point in the session, with a lap timed at 87.3547 seconds. Benjamin Pedersen (HMD Motorsports w/GRG), Frost, Lundqvist, and Peroni (Carlin) had the five quickest laps.

The green flag came back out with 21 minutes – just over half of the session – remaining. At that point in the session, the field had completed only 51 laps, with most drivers completing four of five laps.

With 15 minutes remaining, Peroni was at the top of the timing screens. He was followed by Kirkwood, Sowery, Pederson, and Lundqvist in the top five.

Not surprisingly, the times continued to fall as the session wound down.

With 11 minutes remaining, Sowery was the first driver to break the 86 second barrier, going to the top of the timing screens for a few seconds. The following driver to turn a lap in the 86 seconds and grab the top spot was Kirkwood, who was quickly joined in the 85-second zone by his teammates Frost and Devlin DeFrancesco.

On his 14th lap of practice, Kirkwood went under 85 seconds, with approximately seven minutes remaining in the session.

Kirkwood held the top spot with five minutes remaining, but nine of the 13 drivers were within one second of Kirkwood.

Over the final three minutes of the session, Megennis, Lundqvist, Peroni, Frost, and Kirkwood all holding the top spot.

With one minute remaining in the session, Juncos Racing rookie Sting Ray Robb pulled behind the wall in Turn 7.

The 13 drivers completed 226 laps of the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Detroit Presented By Cooper Tires practice results.

1 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:24.2423 —— 20
2 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:24.3030 0.0607 19
3 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:24.5455 0.3032 19
4 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:24.7063 0.4640 18
5 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:24.7407 0.4984 20
6 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:24.9287 0.6864 15
7 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:24.9587 0.7164 20
8 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:25.2995 1.0572 20
9 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:25.7525 1.5102 19
10 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:26.1054 1.8631 17
11 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:26.1847 1.9424 16
12 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:26.2986 2.0563 19
13 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:29.0383 4.7960 4

The top rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track at 2:30 pm for a 30-minute qualifying session.