SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Peter Dempsey came from fourth place on the final corner of the final lap to overtake Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz and win a thrilling Firestone Freedom 100 Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Exiting turn four Munoz, Karam and Chaves were racing side by side to the start-finish line. Suddenly, Dempsey found a seam close to the outside wall on the 50-foot-wide frontstretch (watch here).
He quickly moved to the outside line and in the final feet of the race inched ahead of Munoz, Karam and Chaves to score his first Firestone Indy Lights triumph.
“It was a fantastic finish. Firestone Indy Lights needs finishes like that,” Dempsey said. “Huge thanks to Firestone. My car was tough to drive the whole race, and the tires held in there really great. So huge thanks to them. I was expecting the rears to go off more, but they hung in there with me. Firestones got me across the line.”
The 27-year-old native of Ashbourne, Ireland, immediately knew he had won the marquee race of the Firestone Indy Lights season, raising his left hand off the steering wheel, though it was a photo finish. The margin of victory was .0026 of a second – the closest on an oval in the 100-plus-year history of the speedway.
Chaves was second and pole sitter Karam was .0280 of a second behind the winner in third. Munoz, who led Laps 13-39, was .0443 of a second off the winner.
“A couple of feet more, and this would have been my race,” Chaves said. “I did everything I could up until then. I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep for a couple of nights before I can let it go. I was just sitting there waiting for my moment.”
Karam led the opening 12 laps of the 40-lap contest before being overtaken by Munoz, who led the next 27 laps before losing the race on the final lap.
The only caution of the race came out on lap two when Indy Lights rookie and USAC regular Kyle O’Gara crashed exiting turn four while attempting to pass Dempsey for third.
Peter Dempsey, Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam, Carlos Munoz, Zach Veach, Jorge Goncalvez, Jimmy Simpson, Chase Austin, Juan Pablo Garcia, Jack Hawksworth, Kyle O’Gara.