INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Kaiser vaulted into the Indy Lights points lead with a victory from the pole position Saturday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit.
Uruguayan Santi Urrutia bounced back from a series of disappointing results to claim a runner-up finish for Belardi Auto Racing. Brazilian rookie Matheus Leist completed the podium for the Carlin team.
Kaiser took full advantage of his pole position start to hold the lead into the heavy braking area at turn one, narrowly ahead of Urrutia, who jumped from fourth to second at the first corner. Urrutia used the draft to draw alongside Kaiser on the long front straightaway at the end of lap two, but once again Kaiser kept his cool, and his position. Urrutia tried again next time around and actually managed to nose ahead into the braking area, only to run a little too deep which enabled Kaiser to maintain his lead.
Urrutia instead soon lost a place to Leist, who has arrived in the United States this year on the crest of a wave after wining last year’s BRDC British Formula 3 Championship. The fight between Urrutia and Leist allowed Kaiser just a little breathing space, whereupon the 21-year-old from Santa Clara, Calif., put his head down and turned a series of consistently quick laps to extend his lead.
The gap grew to more than 3.5 seconds on lap 11 after Urrutia found a way back past Leist in turn seven, and that was to prove the decisive break. As Urrutia consolidated his advantage over Leist, who instead came under attack from Carlin teammate Neil Alberico, Kaiser motored away to take the checkered flag, 6.4768 seconds to the good.
“It was unreal. I started getting emotional when the team told me there were five laps to go, thinking about the podium,” Kaiser said. “I had to really keep myself in check until the checkered flag, and then I was just euphoric. It was a tough race. It is super hard to start from the pole here. I had to get a good jump and try to keep Colton behind me going into turn one – especially because we were so close in the points. From then on, it was a matter of keeping Santi behind me, which was hard because he had a really good car. He almost had me in turn one but after that, I was able to get a gap.
“Every time I came onto the front straight I could see the gap behind so I was watching that each lap. I settled in and just did laps. I try to think of it as a practice, pushing the car but not overly pushing which is what I did yesterday. And now, I get to watch the Juncos Indy 500 team. I’m so excited for them.”
Urrutia was relatively content with second, but the battle for third wasn’t resolved until the final couple of laps when Leist rebuffed Alberico’s overtaking maneuver at turn one. Alberico was unable to avoid contact, which broke his Dallara-Mazda’s front wing and left him struggling to bring his car home to the finish.
Kyle Kaiser, Santi Urrutia, Matheus Leist, Nico Jamin, Juan Piedahita, Neil Alberico, Ryan Norman, Nicolas Dapero, Dalton Kellett, Colton Herta, Zachary Cleman de Melo, Garth Rickards, Aaron Telitz, Shelby Blackstock.