Story Credit: Road to Indy PR
Photo Credit: Road to Indy Photo
MONTEREY, Calif. – The good news for Kyle Kirkwood is that he needed only to start today’s Cooper Tires Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products in order to clinch the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and a scholarship valued at almost $600,000 to advance one step on the Road to Indy to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2020. So when he was involved in an accident on the opening corner of the final race of the season, it was nothing more than a disappointment and a minor inconvenience.
With Kirkwood out of contention for the win, his closest championship rival, polesitter Rasmus Lindh, from Gothenburg, Sweden, was able to emerge from a dramatic 25-lap race to claim his third victory of the season and another PFC Award for Juncos Racing. In the final reckoning he was an agonizing two points shy of Kirkwood’s victorious tally of 419.
Canadian Parker Thompson charged through the field to finish second for Abel Motorsports, while Kory Enders, from Sugar Land, Texas, matched his career-best finish with a fighting third place for DEForce Racing.
The initial start was clean, with Lindh making a solid start from the pole and leading the way toward Turn Two, chased by Kirkwood, who had qualified second fastest for RP Motorsport USA. Behind, though, Kirkwood’s teammate Artem Petrov, from Saint Petersburg, Russia, tangled with Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), then lost control and spun directly into the path of Kirkwood. Both teammates were out on the spot.
After three laps behind the pace car while the two damaged cars were removed from the racing surface, Lindh took off again into the lead, chased by Singapore’s Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport).
A mistake by Lindh on Lap Six allowed Frost to take over the lead. Lindh recovered quickly enough to resume in second ahead of the DEForce pair of Enders and Moises de la Vara, from Guadalajara, Mexico, and the two Abel cars of Thompson and Jacob Abel.
The next drama came on Lap 14, when Frost’s car suddenly speared off the road at Turn Nine and out of the race due to a suspected suspension failure following contact on the first lap.
The pace car was scrambled again to remove Frost’s damaged car, whereupon Lindh took off once again into the lead. He quickly managed to eke out some breathing space over Enders, who in turn came under increasing pressure from Thompson. Unfortunately, a slight slip by Enders with just four laps to go enabled Thompson to complete his impressive drive through the field. A second-place finish and the Tilton Hard Charger Award was his reward.
Enders held on for third ahead of teammate de la Vara, who claimed his best career finish, with Abel completing the top six just ahead of Robb, who did well to recover so well after being forced to make a pit stop following the first-lap incident.
Provisional championship points after 16 of 16 rounds:
1. Kyle Kirkwood, 419
2. Rasmus Lindh, 417
3. Parker Thompson, 344
4. Sting Ray Robb, 323
5. Danial Frost, 318
6. Nikita Lastochkin, 237
7. Kory Enders, 211
8. Moises de la Vara, 198
9. Jacob Abel, 198
10. Antonio Serravalle, 188