Colton Herta continued his two-month surge of momentum after scoring a fourth consecutive victory in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, this time in Saturday’s opening race of the doubleheader at Road America.
Starting from third, Herta (No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing Mazda/Dallara IL-15) made his way up to second on the opening lap and stalked pole sitter Victor Franzoni (No. 23 Juncos Racing) until passing him on Lap 6 of 20. Despite mid-race pressure from teammate Patricio O’Ward (No. 27 Andretti Autosport), Herta pulled away late to take the win by 3.7061 seconds. Franzoni came home third to snag the final spot on the podium.
Herta became the first Indy Lights driver to win four straight races since Alex Lloyd in 2007.
“It’s massive, the momentum is huge,” Herta said. “I think we have a really good package and it’s been working everywhere we go, so tips to the Andretti-Steinbrenner guys. They’ve done a great job.”
Herta said the warmer conditions made managing his Cooper tires the focal point in taking the victory.
“It’s hot and the track is tough on tires, so it wasn’t a good combination,” Herta said. “It was all about managing the tires and, in the end, I think you saw some guys drop back massively and some guys could hold their pace. It was all about holding onto the tires.”
Herta holds a 12-point lead over O’Ward (220-208), who starts on pole for Sunday’s race that streams live at 10:50 a.m. ET on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Kirkwood wins in USF2000 to extend championship lead
Kyle Kirkwood started the race in second place but ended it on the top step of the podium, winning the opening race in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda doubleheader at Road America.
Piloting the No. 8 Cape Motorsports Mazda/Tatuus USF-17, Kirkwood surged past pole sitter Rasmus Lindh at the drop of the green flag and led all 12 laps on the 4.014-mile road course to capture his fourth victory in the last six races. Kaylen Frederick (No. 24 Pabst Racing) finished second with Keith Donegan (No. 28 BN Racing) third to score the first podium of his USF2000 career.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Kirkwood said. “I can’t even explain it, to be honest. Qualifying didn’t go to plan for us, but to be able to come out here and win through the adversity of qualifying and not being at the top of the charts throughout practice and qualifying is truly amazing.
“The Cape guys … took a little bit of a risk for that last one on the setup and it really played into our favor.”
Kirkwood owns a stout 77-point lead over Alex Baron (No. 19 Swan-RJB Motorsports) heading into Sunday’s second race, which will stream at 9 a.m. ET on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Malukas completes perfect weekend in Pro Mazda
David Malukas drove to victory for the second straight day in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, on a day when the series paid tribute to driver Jeff Green.
Green died in a vintage car crash June 16 in Canada. Before Saturday’s race, friend Peter Dempsey piloted the No. 60 Juncos Racing Mazda driven by Green last season on the pace lap, Victor Franzoni, Green’s Pro Mazda teammate last year, following Dempsey in his Juncos Racing Indy Lights car. Juncos Racing owner Ricardo Juncos issued the command for driver to start their engines.
Once the green flag waved, the race was nearly a mirror image of Friday’s opener. Malukas (No. 79 BN Racing Mazda/Tatuus PM-18) led every lap from the pole to complete a perfect sweep of two poles and two victories at Road America.
The Chicago native’s second career win came by 1.3845 seconds over teammate Toby Sowery (No. 78 BN Racing), with Harrison Scott (No. 10 RP Motorsport Racing) third.
“To have a clean sweep – two poles, two wins – the team made it easy for me,” Malukas said. “They gave me the perfect car and everything. I’m going to remember this for my whole life.”