By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
NEWTON, Iowa — His second oval race in his career and his second oval win, Matheus Leist made it three Iowa wins in a row for Carlin by winning the Indy Lights 100 on Sunday at Iowa Speedway.
The race began with Colton Herta on pole and leading 31 laps. However, Leist was able to get around him after a caution and pulled away.
The lone caution came out when one of Leist’s teammates Garth Rickards spun on Lap 27. The caution allowed the field to bunch up and let Leist go after the leaders. He grabbed second from Kyle Kaiser and grabbed the lead from Herta on the next lap.
Meanwhile Santiago Urrutia started 11th and grabbed sixth place from Ryan Norman at the same time that Leist grabbed the lead. Urrutia gradually reeled in Zachary Claman De Melo, Kaiser, Herta and Dalton Kellett to gradually get to second place after a close battle with Kellett.
Meanwhile Leist built up enough of a lead that Urrutia wasn’t able to catch him late in the race despite gaining up to four tenths of a second per lap. Urrutia finished second with Kellett finishing third, Herta in fourth and Kaiser in fifth.
For Leist, his drive today reduced Kaiser’s points lead to 13 points with six races to go.
“In the beginning of the year in St. Petersburg I was last in the championship after the two races and we had one DNF which I was in second in that race, Leist said. “Imagine if I would’ve finished that race I would be leading the championship right now, but anyway this is past and now we still have a lot of races to take the points and take the lead.
“The Carlin boys give me the confidence to keep going because they know that the car is going to be good at Toronto and at Mid Ohio and at other tracks as well,” Leist added.
Urrutia did a burnout after the race was over thinking he had won the race. Instead, he earned his fourth runner-up finish of the year and put himself into a better position to fight for the championship.
“Six races and 51 points is a lot and we don’t have the speed to win races, that’s the problem,” Urrutia said. “But we’re going to Toronto and Mid Ohio, those are races that I was really competitive at last year.
“But the problem is that this year on the races I was competitive, last year I was not competitive, the key right now is to keep working with the team. We’ve found some speed today but not in qualifying. The last six qualifying (sessions) were really bad for the team so if we found the speed on qualifying it would be all right but as long as we don’t find the speed it will be tough.
“I know the team is working really hard, mechanics and engineers and everything and if we win at Toronto and we win at Mid Ohio we will catch Kaiser and it will be fine,” Urrutia added.
Kellett finished second at Iowa Speedway in Pro Mazda in 2015 and with his two third place finishes in the last two Freedom 100s, Kellett has taken a liking to Iowa.
“I think Indy is still my favorite oval […] but this is definitely the favorite short oval, Kellett said. “I mean we tested a whole bunch, raced it a few and this place, you always think when you’re testing that the racing is not going to be that good because you can’t get close to guys and when you have a long stint and the tires start falling off it gets kind of exciting,” Kellett added.