By Tony DiZinno
Singaporean driver Danial Frost had won three times in Indy Pro 2000 competition, but not on the top rung of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
That changed Friday to cap off a chaotic day of racing on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course where all three Road to Indy races saw some contact among championship contenders.
Frost started fourth in his No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing Dallara IL-15 but moved to the lead after drafting past front row starter Hunter McElrea in the first half of the race.
“I can’t even speak at the moment! It’s been so long, and to finally get the number one victory means a lot for me. I’m just happy we stayed on top apart from all the issues everyone else had. We kept it clean,” Frost told the Peacock broadcast.
McElrea dodged trouble in his No. 27 car and led home a pair of his Andretti Autosport teammates, Sting Ray Robb and Christian Rasmussen.
Rasmussen, meanwhile, along with Linus Lundqvist in his No. 26 HMD with DCR entry, spent the majority of their race playing catch-up after contact when battling for the lead.
Unheralded series sophomores Antonio Serravalle and Christian Bogle kept their heads and enjoyed a great day of action in two more HMD with DCR cars. Both drivers equaled career-best results in sixth and seventh, with Serravalle doing so in his first start for HMD with DCR after switching from Abel Motorsports.
The initial start was waved off as a handful of drivers jumped out of line before the start/finish line.
After the wave-off, the second attempt got a better start. Rasmussen got a flier into second while Frost leapt to third and McElrea fell to fourth. Brabham and Pedersen were close to contact but avoided trouble.
Rasmussen had a huge run on Lundqvist on Lap 3 and darted around the outside at Turn 7 for the lead.
On Lap 4, Francis Jr. ran wide at Turn 2, and he fell into the clutches of Abel, Roe and Phinny. Phinny made a pass attempt on Roe and got by the Irishman in his first Indy Lights race in 8 years.
A full course caution flew at the end of Lap 4 thought as Lundqvist and Rasmussen collided while battling for the lead exiting Turn 2. The two were side-by-side, Lundqvist’s right front to Rasmussen’s left rear, and that took them out of the action for the moment. McElrea shot into the lead over Frost, Pedersen, Brabham and Robb.
The green flag flew at the end of Lap 7 and start of Lap 8.
Frost got a great run on McElrea on Lap 9, using push-to-pass and the draft, to pass him for the lead.
“Turn 1 was going to be the best place to overtake. I had to make the most out of the first few laps. It’s so hard to pass after the first couple laps so I had to make sure I got it done,” Frost explained.
Rasmussen and Lundqvist made it up to 10th and 11th within the first couple laps after their contact.
Brabham then contacted Pedersen when battling for third. A late outbraking maneuver pitched Pedersen into a spin, as Brabham locked his right front Cooper Tire. Robb inherited the spot for a podium position. Brabham was penalized for avoidable contact and dropped down the order.
At Lap 14, Frost led McElrea with Robb third and Serravalle and Bogle in the top five.
Rasmussen’s recovery drive continued though as he closed on Bogle for fifth. Lundqvist’s continued, too. Both of them were by Bogle for fifth and sixth by the end of Lap 16.
Halfway home on Lap 18, Frost led McElrea by 1.6984 seconds with Robb third, Serravalle fourth and Rasmussen and Lundqvist fifth and sixth. Bogle completed the top half of the 14-car field in seventh.
With 10 laps to go, Rasmussen and Lundqvist had both made it past Serravalle, dropping the young Canadian to sixth. Otherwise there were no changes, and Pedersen and Brabham were still stuck down the order in 11th and 12th.
The best battle on the track in the waning stages was Serravalle and Bogle for sixth. Serravalle held off Bogle’s advances.
Up front Frost brought home his maiden Indy Lights victory by 1.5 seconds over McElrea.
The points are jumbled after this result. Unofficially, Lundqvist leads with 121, now up 6 on Frost, 19 on Robb, 22 on Pedersen and 24 on Brabham. After a 20-point gap to McElrea in sixth, just five points cover sixth through 10th.
Race two is tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET live on Peacock and IndyCar Radio.
Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Race #1 Unofficial Results
|1||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||35||LAP 35|
|2||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||35||1.5449|
|3||2||Sting Ray Robb||Andretti Autosport||35||3.3539|
|4||28||Christian Rasmussen||Andretti Autosport||35||9.1499|
|5||26||Linus Lundqvist||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||35||10.9835|
|6||11||Antonio Serravalle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||35||20.2883|
|7||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||35||21.1478|
|8||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||35||26.3739|
|9||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||Force Indy||35||28.8987|
|10||83||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport||35||30.4664|
|11||24||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group with HMD||35||32.2380|
|12||21||Kyffin Simpson||TJ Speed Motorsports||35||34.3302|
|13||12||James Roe||TJ Speed Motorsports||35||39.9779|
|14||61||Ryan Phinny||Abel Motorsports||35||58.4364|