Kyle Kirkwood continued his astonishing record at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday morning by dominating the second leg of the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio for Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood is now unbeaten in seven Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races at the challenging 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course.
Andretti Autosport teammate Danial Frost once again followed Kirkwood home in second, after starting from pole position, while David Malukas (HMD Motorsports) minimized the damage to his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship aspirations by finishing third. Malukas, who led the standings prior to the weekend, now trails Kirkwood by only 11 points with eight races remaining in the season.
After claiming his third Cooper Tires Pole Award of the year during qualifying on Saturday morning, Frost clung onto a tenuous lead for the opening lap but was unable to prevent Kirkwood from taking advantage of his AER engine’s 50-horsepower push-to-pass feature on the back straightaway next time around. Kirkwood used the slingshot effect to move ahead comfortably before the braking zone for Turn 4, and even though Frost would enjoy the same power boost, he was unable to get close enough to return the favor.
It was the same story following a brief full-course caution after Carlin’s Christian Bogle slid off the road in Turn 1. Kirkwood again was able to keep his No. 28 car tantalizingly out of Frost’s reach before edging away to score another clear victory, his sixth of the season and a record-extending 27th of his extraordinary Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career in just 42 starts.
Frost seemed secure in second until the closing stages, when Malukas began to close in. Having overtaken Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports stablemate Linus Lundqvist shortly after the restart, Malukas put his head down to close within striking range of Frost as the 35-lap race neared its conclusion but was never quite close enough to mount a serious challenge.
Lundqvist finished a relatively lonely, and disappointed, fourth, well clear of an entertaining battle between Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) and Toby Sowery (Juncos Racing). Sowery had earlier fought past Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports) following a protracted struggle, and looked set to displace DeFrancesco with five laps remaining. But DeFrancesco fought back, with the pair running side-by-side from Turn 4 to Turn 8 before DeFrancesco was able – just – to maintain the status quo. Sowery had to be content with sixth and another Tilton Hard Charger Award.
The double one-two finish for Andretti Autosport moved them to within 17 points of HMD Motorsports, 387-370, in the Team Championship contest.
The entire Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires development ladder now takes a summer hiatus before convening at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., for the first-ever Indy Lights oval track doubleheader on August 20-21.
Provisional championship points after 12 of 20 races:
1. Kyle Kirkwood, 290
2. David Malukas, 279
3. Linus Lundqvist, 265
4. Danial Frost, 204
5. Toby Sowery, 201
6. Devlin DeFrancesco, 190
7. Robert Megennis, 183
8. Benjamin Pedersen, 179
9. Alex Peroni, 179
10. Sting Ray Robb, 140