Andretti Autosport’s polesitter Hunter McElrea held firm at the start, but the HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car of Linus Lundqvist and Sting Ray Robb in the #2 Andretti car wrong-footed each other at Turn 1. That promoted two more Andretti drivers, Christian Rasmussen and series returnee Matt Brabham into second and third, with Benjamin Pedersen’s Global Racing Group w/HMD car into fourth.
McElrea seemed to have everything under control and had pulled a three-second lead until as he came off the final corner on Lap 11, he got crossed up and slid hard into the wall on the outside of the turn.
The race restarted successfully… until Kyffin Simpson of TJ Speed Motorsports nerfed Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) into a spin and stall, bringing out a brief full-course caution.
Rasmussen again kept his lead solid ahead of Brabham who smoked his tires into Turn 1 but held off Pedersen, Lundqivst and Robb. Behind them ran two more HMD cars, Danial Frost ahead of Manuel Sulaiman, while Trans-Am legend Ernie Francis Jr. had made some strong passes and stayed out of trouble to move his Force Indy machine from 14th up to eighth.
Rasmussen built up a three-second lead, before Brabham started whittling it down, even kissing the Turn 14 exit wall in his efforts, and drawing within 1.8sec of his quarry. But Rasmussen responded and by lap 43 of the 45 he had his margin back out to 3.3sec.
But that would be his final completed lap. The race was extended by five laps compared with last year, and Rasmussen’s fuel pressure dropped as surely as his heart on Lap 44, as his car sputtered to a halt on the back straight.
Brabham swept past to claim the lead and went on to score a surprising victory, eight years after his last Lights win. Pedersen came home two-and-a-half seconds back with Lundqvist claiming the final podium spot ahead of Robb, Frost, Sulaiman.
Francis came home seventh, having held off Antonio Serravalle and Christian Bogle.
|1||Matthew Brabham||45||LAP 45||2||6||Andretti Autosport||50|
|2||Benjamin Pedersen||45||2.4726||2.4726||4||Global Racing Group w/ HMD Motorsports||40|
|3||Linus Lundqvist||45||3.7179||1.2453||2||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||35|
|4||Sting Ray Robb||45||4.6470||0.9291||3||Andretti Autosport||32|
|5||Danial Frost||45||9.6321||4.9851||11||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||30|
|6||Manuel Sulaiman||45||14.4322||4.8001||10||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||28|
|7||Ernie Francis Jr||45||38.8998||24.4676||14||Force Indy||26|
|8||Antonio Serravalle||45||39.2926||0.3928||12||Abel Motorsports||24|
|9||Christian Bogle||45||40.4748||1.1822||8||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||22|
|10||Jacob Abel||45||46.6426||6.1678||9||Abel Motorsports||20|
|11||Kyffin Simpson||44||1 LAPS||60.3537||7||TJ Speed Motorsports||19|
|12||Christian Rasmussen||43||Contact||32||5||Andretti Autosport||20|
|13||James Roe Jr||31||Contact||1 LAPS||13||TJ Speed Motorsports||17|
|14||Hunter McElrea||11||Contact||11||1||Andretti Autosport||17|
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism