By Steve Wittich
Manuel Sulaiman and Artem Petrov brought the Indy Pro 2000 slowly up the hill to the green flag.
The 13 drivers got cleanly through Turn 1, but an incident at the exit of Turn 3 brought out the yellow flag.
Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports), championship leader Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kyffin Simpson (Juncos Racing), and Wyatt Brichacek (Jay Howard Driver Development) did not come around to take the yellow flag, indicating they were involved.
Those drivers started from the fifth, sixth, eighth, and 11th spots.
According to Greg Creamer on the PA, two drivers were on the driver’s left, and two were on the driver’s right.
It was a long yellow as the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got the incident cleaned up.
Thankfully, all four drivers were checked, released, and cleared to drive.
The running order at the end of the first lap, under yellow, was Sulaiman, Petrov, Abel, Gold, Roe, McElrea, Eves, and Yeany.
The green came back out to start Lap 4. Petrov took a look outside Sulaiman in Turn 1 but wisely tucked back in behind the pole-sitter.
Eves was able to get past McElrea to the sixth spot on the first lap back to green.
On Lap 6, Eves moved into fifth, passing Roe into Canada Corner.
Reece Gold, who started fourth, moved onto the final spot on the podium on Lap 7.
Upfront, Petrov was putting pressure on Sulaiman, getting the crossed flags only 0.4571 seconds behind the Juncos Racing sophomore.
Behind the battle for the lead, Abel was starting to put pressure back on Gold. Also, Eves had Roe in his mirrors.
It looked like Petrov was better between Turn 5 and The Carousel, but the No. 22 of Sulaiman had better top-end speed.
With five minutes remaining, the top seven were all still in contention, crossing the start/finish line within six seconds of each other.
As they started Lap 12, Gold and Abel went side-by-side down the front straight with the Abel Motorsports driver faking outside before diving to the inside and making the pass.
Later on that lap, Petrov looked to the outside for the lead in Canada Corner, locking up the brakes and getting sideways, before dropping back in behind Sulaiman.
On Lap 13, Eves went the long way around Gold in Canada Corner, completing the daring pass and moving into fourth.
Sulaiman’s lead when he was shown the white flag was 0.5 seconds. Petrov only had four-tenths-of-a-second over Abel.
As the front three made the run down the Morraine Sweep, Abel moved to the outside of Petrov. The Exclusive Autosport driver was able to hold off the charge from Abel, crossing the line just ahead of the Butler University student.
|1||22||Manuel Sulaiman||Juncos Racing||——|
|2||42||Artem Petrov||Exclusive Autosport||0.5051|
|3||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1.1073|
|4||91||Braden Eves||Exclusive Autosport||4.3899|
|5||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Racing||4.5983|
|6||3||James Roe||Turn 3 Motorsport||6.5145|
|7||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||6.9401|
|8||11||Hunter Yeany||Velocity Racing Development||7.6299|
|9||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||Contact|
|10||1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||Contact|
|11||21||Kyffin Simpson||Juncos Racing||Contact|
|12||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||Contact|