This evening’s Dave Steele Carb Night Classic at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval featured a pair of exciting races for drivers on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder, and both included first-time winners.
In Indy Pro 2000, Danial Frost, 17, was in imperious form on the ultra-fast 0.686-mile oval. Comfortably fastest in last week’s pre-race test, he led the way in qualifying and, after fighting off an early challenge from last year’s dominant USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood, controlled the proceedings to score a thoroughly well-deserved victory in the Cooper Tires Freedom 90.
The teenager from Singapore also took home the first PFC Award this season for Michael Duncalfe’s Exclusive Autosport team, which also triumphed at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2018.
Frost’s only serious challenge came following the race’s only full-course caution, which came after 51 laps when Nikita Lastochkin’s Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18 ground to a halt with a mechanical failure. Frost took the restart directly ahead of Sting Ray Robb (who had found a way past Kirkwood in Turn 1 moments before the yellow), but didn’t take long to re-establish a clear advantage. His final margin of victory after 90 laps was 4.8048 seconds.
Championship leader Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing) chased both his teammate, Robb, and Kirkwood virtually throughout the race before finally finding a chink in Kirkwood’s armor on the very last lap, taking advantage of an open-door opportunity on the high line into Turn 1. Robb moved quickly alongside, then carried his momentum through Turn 2 to edge ahead and hold off Kirkwood for third on the line.
Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) was the only other unlapped finisher in fifth, while DEForce teammates Kory Enders and Moises de la Vara finished in that order after a race-long scrap which also involved Phillippe Denes, who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting 12th on the grid.
“I’m so grateful to get my first win, especially on the oval for the Cooper Tires Freedom 90,” said Frost. “I’m so happy with what the team has accomplished. I worked hard to keep my focus toward the end, but as soon as I saw the checkered flag I started to celebrate. A couple of guys really put some pressure on me but I stayed composed and did my own thing, and eventually we were able to break the draft. Once we got into traffic, I worked at catching the guys in front because, for me, it’s better if I have someone to chase. That’s what I did for the whole race.
“The team gave me such a great car, I’m so happy.”