By Road to Indy
SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Rasmus Lindh, from Gothenburg, Sweden, enjoyed a perfect sweep of the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, leading throughout this morning’s 25-lap race to finish just over two seconds clear of Juncos Racing teammate Sting Ray Robb. Coming hot on the heels of his first-ever Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires win yesterday, the victory catapults Lindh into the championship lead ahead of Canadian Parker Thompson, who finished fifth.
Rookie Danial Frost, from Singapore, extended his streak of podium finishes to three following another strong drive for Exclusive Autosport.
Lindh, who started on pole for the second straight race after narrowly eclipsing his own Indy Pro 2000 qualifying lap record on Friday, took off confidently at the start. Behind, a good getaway from third on the grid saw Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport Racing USA) briefly challenging for the lead as the field accelerated toward the tight Turn One. The Jupiter, Fla., native elected not to push the issue and instead attempted to tuck in behind Lindh, but his conservative approach sadly backfired when Robb and Nikita Lastochkin (Exclusive Autosport) made aggressive moves of their own to tag onto the leader’s tail.
In an instant, Kirkwood’s front wing was broken and he was obliged to head to the pit lane for repairs. He resumed a lap down and showed what might have been by turning the fastest lap of the race – for the third race in a row – but could manage no better than 13th at the finish.
The only other driver able to challenge Juncos Racing’s dominance was Frost, who overcame a poor start to demote Lastochkin from third on lap two. Frost quickly closed onto Robb’s tail but was unable to find a way past. Still, his third consecutive third-place finish represented another substantial points haul.
Lastochkin finished a distant fourth, having been embroiled in a close battle with Ian Rodriguez, from Guatemala, whose impressive debut weekend was sadly hindered by a mechanical problem which caused him to fall all the way to an unrepresentative 12th at the finish.
After sweeping both races at the opening event of the season at St. Petersburg, Fla., in March, Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, suffered a torrid weekend with the Abel Motorsports team, although he was able to salvage a fifth-place finish – and claim the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting 13th – following a protracted scrap with Mexico’s Moises de la Vara, who produced his strongest drive to date for DEForce Racing, and teammate Jacob Abel.
Jacob Loomis, from Corinth, Texas, also was embroiled in this battle with his new JDL Racing Tatuus PM-18, running sixth for much of the race before losing ground with a grassy excursion in Turn One on lap 20 following an aggressive pass by Thompson.
Ricardo Juncos earned another PFC Award as the winning team owner.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will remain in the Indianapolis area for Round Five – the Cooper Tires Freedom 90 – which will take place at Lucas Oil Raceway in nearby Brownsburg, Ind., on May 24.
Provisional championship points after three of 16 rounds:
1. Rasmus Lindh, 109
2. Parker Thompson, 98
3. Danial Frost, 85
4. Sting Ray Robb, 83
5. Kyle Kirkwood, 68
6. Nikita Lastochkin, 64
7. Moises de la Vara, 53
8. Jacob Abel, 51
9. Phillippe Denes, 48
10. Antonio Serravalle, 46
Rasmus Lindh (#10 Chicago Pneumatic/PWR Junior Team/SKF-Juncos Racing Tatuus PM-18): “The start was perfect from my perspective. I never let up. I saw that Sting Ray was behind me and while I knew I had been faster than him all weekend, I know where my weakness is and where I’m strong. So I focused forward, working on getting a gap and driving away as fast as I could. Once the gap got up to two seconds, I worked on keeping that gap. It was a perfect weekend for the team. But I still can’t believe it. We didn’t have the speed to win here last year (in USF2000), so I said to myself that I need to win here this year, and I did, so I am very happy for that.”
Sting Ray Robb (#2 Go Out Local/Big Idaho Potato Truck/OMP/Intervention.com-Juncos Racing Tatuus PM-18): “The start was hectic. Rasmus, the team and I had talked about the start and how we could get away, but it didn’t go as planned. He got a great start and I lagged a bit and fell to fourth. I was able to get back up to second, but getting around Kyle, he slid out just a little bit at the apex and caught my rear tire with his nose. I was worried about a puncture but we were good. The team is working hard to get me toward the front and we’re going in the right direction, but a podium here is really special. I got my first podium here last year so to come back and do it again means a lot.”
Danial Frost (#68 Den-Jet Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM18): “The first corner was rough because I lost two places but I gained them back by Turn Four. I had good pace and was catching Sting Ray, but it was hard to get close in the aero wash. But we showed that we are strong here and that the car could do what I wanted it to do – Exclusive Autosport gave me a great car. Next time we’ll be able to get to the front. But I will remember this weekend, with double podiums at Indianapolis, as one of my biggest achievements.”