TORONTO -- Pole sitter Aaron Telitz led all 35 laps for a dominant flag-to-flag victory in the first race for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires at Honda Indy Toronto.
Despite it only being his third weekend back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Dallara IL-15, the 27-year-old Wisconsin native showed no signs of rust getting around the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit. He got a strong jump on the field at the start before speeding off into the distance to finish 2.9776 seconds ahead of runner-up and championship leader Oliver Askew (No. 28 Andretti Autosport).
“It was awesome,” said Telitz, who now has three wins in Indy Lights (first since 2017 at Watkins Glen International). “I mean, we had just a great start. The car was awesome. I was just on cruise control out there. I was just hearing my engineer tell me what was happening and we just managed the gap to Oliver. He was a little quick at the end, but we were just trying to get around lapped traffic without any problems, but so happy to be in victory lane.”
After starting second, Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) fell behind Askew heading into Turn 1 at the start. Despite a late charge that included “six or seven” touches with the wall, the 18-year-old Dutchman ran out of time and was left collecting third.
Qualifying for the backend of the doubleheader is at 8:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, followed by the race at 11 a.m. on NBC Sports Gold.
Frost ices the field to take second Indy Pro 2000 win of 2019
Daniel Frost proved to be the class of the field en route to delivering the opening race victory in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires on the streets of Toronto.
The 17-year-old Singapore native started third in the No. 68 Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18, but managed to get around pole sitter Kyle Kirkwood (No. 28 RP Motorsport Racing) moments after the drop of the green flag.
Despite multiple cautions, Frost kept control of the top spot to lead all 25 laps and held off championship leader Rasmus Lindh (No. 10 Juncos Racing) on a late restart with five laps to go to win by 0.4500 of a second.
“It’s always important to get a good restart,” Frost said. “If you don’t get a good restart, you get big pressure. The entire race, my focus was to get a big gap and we managed to do that. So it was pretty comfortable.”
Parker Thompson (No. 8 Abel Motorsports) once again displayed the fighting spirit at his home race as the young Canadian battled from seventh on the grid to claim the third and final spot on the podium.
Despite his recent run of momentum, Kirkwood encountered early issues and was forced to make a pit stop right after relinquishing the lead. Due to the high attrition rate – five retirements in all – throughout the race, though, he managed to claw back to a respectable eighth-place finish.
Kirkwood will have a chance to rectify the outcome as he will lead the field to green for the second race of the doubleheader weekend for the middle rung of the Road to Indy, which will stream live at 9:55 a.m. on Sunday.
Keane claims first career win in USF2000
Darren Keane wasn’t to be denied after surviving a last lap shootout to capture his first-ever victory the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship at Exhibition Place.
Piloting the No. 2 Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17, the 19-year-old Floridian started second and lurked in the shadow of pole sitter Christian Rasmussen (No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development). However, when Rasmussen slid wide entering Turn 1 on Lap 11 of 20, it opened the door for Keane to sneak by for the lead.
The yellow flag came out with four laps after Cameron Shields (No. 73 Newman Wachs Racing) clipped the tire barrier in Turn 8 and hit the wall. In turn, that set up a winner-take-all run to the finish with a green-white-checkered dual, which saw Keane hold firm after going side-by-side with Rasmussen in Turn 4 before pulling ahead and winning by 1.149 seconds.
“It was definitely hard,” Keane said. “I got in front and I did a good couple of first laps and got a gap. Then the nerves got to me for a lap and I dropped about a second off. Then I got myself together and got a gap before the safety car.
“Then the safety car came and I was like, ‘I wish this would end under yellow,’ just to make it a little easier. But it was a super good race. I’m super happy!”
Hunter McElrea (No. 22 Pabst Racing) was in the mix with the frontrunners during the last half of the race, but didn’t get the cleanest getaway on the restart and was left to finish third.
Championship leader Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) ended up fourth, while Zach Holden (No. 14 Legacy Autosport) climbed through the field from 12th to finish fifth.
The bottom rung of the Road to Indy will continue at 9 a.m. on Sunday with Keane starting on pole for the second race of the doubleheader weekend.
Both races for USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 will be streamed live at racecontrol.indycar.com.