By Tony DiZinno
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires hit the halfway point of its season Sunday at Road America with a race in two parts, for somehow, the second time in the last month.
But the race ended with a 10th different driver to win on all three rungs of the Road to Indy ladder, in the form of Dane Christian Rasmussen. The driver of the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport banked his first Indy Lights win in the restarted event. Bob Stellrecht, a longtime supporter of Andretti Autosport and the Road to Indy, joined Rasmussen and the Andretti team in victory lane at the 4.014-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. as the team swept the podium.
Six of the previous nine drivers with wins in all three Road to Indy ladder series have made at least one NTT INDYCAR Series start, so the odds bode well for Rasmussen going forward.
|2019||Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay)|
The first nine laps ran with three full course cautions, capped off by the Christian Bogle incident at Turn 5 that brought out a red flag and necessitated fence repairs. This also pushed the race back to after the NTT INDYCAR Series Sonsio Grand Prix. You can view that full report here.
A warmer track greeted competitors for the final 11 laps. The remaining 11 cars did a single lap under caution and got the green at the end of Lap 10.
There were a couple changes to the running order, though. With the cars placed in impound rather than back in the tents, a couple cars incurred penalties for making changes.
Kyffin Simpson’s TJ Speed Motorsports group changed its left front tire and the front wing. Benjamin Pedersen’s Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports team changed the left rear wishbone after his eventful first half of the race.
Meanwhile Matthew Brabham was sent to the rear of the field for blocking Pedersen in the first half. That incident had been under review by Race Control prior to the red flag.
Rasmussen made the bold move that ultimately made the difference right on the restart on Lap 10. He darted to the outside of leader, polesitter and Andretti Autosport teammate Sting Ray Robb going into Turn 1 to try to make his pass stick, and he did.
Danial Frost went off course into the gravel past Turn 3, but he made it out on the other side.
At the end of Lap 11, Rasmussen led Robb, Hunter McElrea, Linus Lundqvist, and Jacob Abel. Brabham recovered to sixth ahead of James Roe, Frost, and Simpson.
On Lap 12, Rasmussen held just a 0.4712 of a second lead over Robb, while Abel was working to hold back Brabham for fifth.
The best battle on the track became McElrea versus Lundqvist for third. They got close into Turn 5 on Lap 16 and then a lap later, Lundqvist had a big run into Turn 1 to try on the outside, but it didn’t work.
Up front, Rasmussen extended the gap over Robb while McElrea kept Lundqvist at bay by way of a push-to-pass time advantage.
About the only thing Rasmussen had go wrong today was on his cooldown lap when he lost the back end exiting Turn 5. He spun back around and resumed, and headed back all good into victory lane.
The win is the 20th in Rasmussen’s Road to Indy career across all three series.
Rasmussen started third. All 15 Indy Lights races at Road America have featured a winner that started in the top four positions. But of those 15, only three times has the polesitter won. Robb, who finished second, acknowledged that post-race.
Lundqvist, whose winning streak of three straight races came to an end, finished fourth in a steady drive that kept his championship lead well intact.
Unofficially, Lundqvist holds an 82-point lead over Robb (315-233) with Pedersen third, 97 back, and the only other driver within 100 points. Frost in fourth (100 back) and Brabham in fifth (101 back) are triple-digits in arrears. Rasmussen’s win moved him past McElrea for sixth.
Some testing comes next for the series before its next race, July 3 at 11:30 a.m. EDT, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Indy Lights GP at Road America – Unofficial Race Results
|1||28||Christian Rasmussen||Andretti Autosport||20||LAP 20|
|2||2||Sting Ray Robb||Andretti Autosport||20||2.3573|
|3||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||20||6.1310|
|4||26||Linus Lundqvist||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||20||6.8120|
|5||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||20||10.7062|
|6||83||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport||20||12.6208|
|7||12||James Roe||TJ Speed Motorsports||20||18.8083|
|8||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||20||19.6014|
|9||21||Kyffin Simpson||TJ Speed Motorsports||20||34.6822|
|10||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||Force Indy||19||1 LAPS|
|11||24||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group with HMD||19||1 LAPS|
|12||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||8||Contact|
|13||11||Antonio Serravalle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||5||Mechanical|