MADISON, Ill. – Kyle Kirkwood stormed from the rear of the field to win Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 Championship event at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Sweden’s Rasmus Lindh captured his fourth pole position of the season, setting a track record at the 1.25-mile oval in the process, while Kirkwood saw his qualifying run disallowed due to a technical infraction. Kirkwood started shotgun in the 12-car field as a result.
The opening laps saw side-by-side racing with three lead changes before the Kirkwood freight train charged to the front to take the top spot on lap seven while Lindh found himself shuffled back to fourth behind Moises de la Vara and Kory Enders. As battles continued throughout the field, Kirkwood and Enders briefly checked out with a 3.5-plus second lead over the field by lap 25.
The first and only caution came on lap 40 when Lindh, who had been stalking de la Vara, was able to find a way past. The pair made slight contact which sent de la Vara spinning and into the turn three wall. He was uninjured in the crash.
The green flag waved once again on lap 48 with seven to go. While Kirkwood took off into the lead, Enders had his hands full with a charging Lindh and the riveting battle continued until the final dash to the checkers with Lindh completing the last lap pass just before the finish line.
“It was just disbelief when I saw the checkers. My team was just screaming on the radio, half in Italian, half in English,” Kirkwood said. “I was going to be happy with a top five, top three was optimistic, going into the race. It was incredible to come through the field like that. I don’t remember half the passes I made; I was in the zone, just pushing as hard as I could to get to the front, and it gave me chills once I got into the lead.
“We set the car up to be fast right away, because we knew that’s where we would be able to pass. The car wasn’t ideal once we got to the lead, because we never thought about being out front the whole time. But we had to go for it; we’re behind in the championship – and we almost came away with the lead. We needed to do that and I wanted to redeem my team, with the mistake we made yesterday. This should get my engineer, Stefano, some sleep tonight because he was really down last night. I am so thankful to everyone on the team.”
Enders had to settle for third – his best result to date this season while setting the fastest lap of the race in the process – followed by Danial Frost of Exclusive Autosport, who brought home his eighth top-four finish of the year, and Sting Ray Robb rounding out the top five.