Time for the final Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race – and with Firestone stepping in next season, this is Cooper Tires’ last day with the series.
In late 2013, Andersen Promotions took over management of the series (though INDYCAR retained ownership), and from 2014 to 2021 all three Road to Indy series (the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights) rode on Cooper Tires. Cooper’s director of motorsports, Chris Pantani, has worked tirelessly to promote the Road to Indy – and all the drivers who graduated to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. INDYCAR took Indy Lights back in house this season and announced that the series would run on Firestone tires beginning in 2023.
The series championship was decided yesterday, with Linus Lundqvist finally securing the title. But two through five in the final standings is up for grabs.
First – the points:
|2||Sting Ray Robb||443||100|
|3||Hunter McElrea – R||436||107|
|6||Christian Rasmussen – R||386||157|
|8||Jacob Abel – R||325||218|
|9||Kyffin Simpson – R||294||249|
|10||Ernie Francis Jr – R||282||256|
Second – the season finale starting lineup:
SP Car Driver Name Time
1 28 Rasmussen, Christian (R) 01:15.3618
2 26 Lundqvist, Linus 01:15.3788
3 2 Robb, Sting Ray 01:15.5028
4 24 Pedersen, Benjamin 01:15.6120
5 83 Brabham, Matthew 01:15.6536
6 68 Frost, Danial 01:15.7075
7 99 Francis Jr., Ernie (R) 01:15.8729
8 51 Abel, Jacob (R) 01:15.9349
9 27 McElrea, Hunter (R) 01:16.3453
10 21 Simpson, Kyffin (R) 01:16.4406
11 11 Siegel, Nolan (R) 01:16.5671
12 7 Bogle, Christian 01:16.6484
13 15 Lazier, Flinn (R) 01:16.8634
Sting Ray Robb took a dominant victory from pole yesterday – can he get back to the front today? With two of the series most assertive drivers – Rasmussen and Lundqvist – on the front row, it’s going to be a very interesting turn one.
Green flag at 10:00 a.m.
Rasmussen with the early jump with Lundqvist hanging on the outside, with Robb putting a nose inside Lundqvist but thinking better of it in turn two.
Brabham makes a feint in turn three but slots back into fifth.
McElrea all over Ernie Francis Jr. for eighth – McElrea is third in points, hoping to get to second as he looks to 2023.
Robb makes the pass on Lundqvist on the inside in turn nine.
Penalty on Francis for avoidable contact with McElrea, required to give McElrea eighth position.
Brabham by Lundqvist in the Corkscrew – looked like brief wheel-to-wheel contact between the two. Brabham goes over the kerbs in eight and shoves Lundqvist over the kerbs in turn nine.
Andretti 1-2-3 – and the top three are all former Indy Pro 2000 champs.
Robb packing five-tenths of a second quicker than Rasmussen on lap six, Rasmussen three-tenths quicker on lap seven.
Nolan Siegel and Kyffin Simpson in a battle of the 17-year-olds. Siegel doing a nice job in his series debut weekend.
Top four evenly spaced, so the Siegel/Simpson battle really the only one on track.
Jagger Jones in the booth with Kevin Lee and Charlie Kimball – Jones (grandson of Parnelli) will join Cape Motorsports, moving up to Indy Lights from USF2000 in 2023.
“We’ve seen the talent here (in Indy Lights) and we’ve seen what they’ve done in INDYCAR. This is the place to be,” said Jones.
“We had a few minutes to celebrate last night but Henry (Malukas, team owner) will throw us a party after this,” championship-winning HMD Motorsports team manager AJ Smith tells Georgia Henneberry.
Tire management is critical in this 35-lap race as we hit the halfway point – lap times starting to go up, over five-tenths of a second now.
Robb with the fastest race lap so far – back on lap four.
Benjamin Pedersen with a big off in turn 6, allowing Jacob Abel to get past in turn eight for fifth position.
McElrea reports to pit lane that his push-to-pass system is not working – team answers that the telemetry is working on pit lane.
Rasmussen with a two-car length lead on Robb, with Brabham another eight car lengths back.
Brabham puts four wheels into the dirt between turns four and five.
As the laps wind down, is Robb content with second on track and in the final point standings, or will he make a move?
Simpson spins in turn two and continues.
Checkered flag and the second win of the year for Christian Rasmussen.
|1||28||Christian Rasmussen||35||10||1:18.4480||Andretti Autosport|
|2||2||Sting Ray Robb||35||4||1:18.3304||Andretti Autosport|
|3||83||Matthew Brabham||35||5||1:18.4620||Andretti Autosport|
|4||26||Linus Lundqvist||35||8||1:18.6817||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing|
|5||51||Jacob Abel||35||11||1:19.0546||Abel Motorsports|
|6||24||Benjamin Pedersen||35||11||1:18.8426||Global Racing Group with HMD|
|7||68||Danial Frost||35||12||1:19.1314||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing|
|8||27||Hunter McElrea||35||11||1:18.9633||Andretti Autosport|
|9||11||Nolan Siegel||35||6||1:19.5782||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing|
|10||7||Christian Bogle||35||8||1:19.4563||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing|
|11||15||Flinn Lazier||35||13||1:19.4503||Abel Motorsports|
|12||99||Ernie Francis Jr.*||35||7||1:19.4021||Force Indy|
|13||21||Kyffin Simpson*||35||6||1:19.5863||HMD Motorsports|
* Francis, Jr. receives a post-race penalty for avoidable contact, will move to 13th behind Simpson.
And a very nice set of donuts from series champion Linus Lundqvist.
Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea wins rookie of the year honors.
Christian Rasmussen: “That was an awesome way to end the season. It’s been a tough one for us so to end on a high note is awesome. Good job to Andretti Autosports, they put a great car under me all weekend.
“The start was the most nerve-wracking part, especially knowing Sting Ray had the better car. I was excited to get the pole position yesterday, qualifying has been tough for me to figure out, so second yesterday, the pole and the win today is awesome. It’s all about getting better and better and we developed a lot this year. I’m a different driver than I was then and that’s what this series is all about. I’m happy with my progression this year, Andretti Autosport has helped me so much this year. I’m looking to come back to Indy Lights next year so I hope I can keep the momentum and go for the championship.”
Sting Ray Robb: “I don’t think I did as good a job as yesterday saving the rear tires. Once I got into Christian’s aerowash, it felt like I was on ice. I was happy with my pass on Linus – I don’t know if he saw me coming. I made too many mistakes early on and didn’t have anything for Christian but to see another all-Andretti podium sweep and finish second in the championship is great. We were getting better and better every race and eight podiums speak to our consistency.”
Matthew Brabham: “It was one of the most fun races I’ve had. A few passes in the Corkscrew, it was a lot of fun. It was a great year, hats off to the entire team. We worked so well together as a team – they’re like family to me. We’ve all stolen points off each other but the team gave us great cars. Unbeatable in the second half of the year.”
Unofficial Final Top Five Points:
|2||Sting Ray Robb||483||92|
|3||Hunter McElrea – R||460||115|