INDIANAPOLIS – Pole sitter Robert Megennis fended off early challengers and put in a masterful drive to earn his first career victory in the opening race for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The 19-year-old New York native and pilot of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15 entry was immediately under pressure from teammate and points leader Oliver Askew (No. 28 Andretti Autosport), who put on a well-timed move for the lead entering Turn 1 on Lap 3 of 30. However, Megennis mirrored the exact same move put on him moments later, regaining the lead on Lap 5 and outpaced the field to win by 1.9523 seconds over Askew.
“It hasn't really sunk in yet,” Megennis said. “If there's anywhere you want to win, you want to win at Indy. It’s a dream come true to be sitting here on the podium.”
With cold temperatures and overcast, optimal grip from the Cooper Tires were tougher than usual, so the pass back for the lead on Askew was pivotal for Megennis.
“It's so hard to follow in these cars with the aero wash,” Megennis added. “I knew if I sat behind (Askew) for another two or three laps, I wasn't getting by him. I used five push-to-pass in two laps just to try and get around him and get gone because I knew we had very similar pace.
“The track is so cold it takes forever for stuff to get up to temperature. So when it does, you are where you are at that point.”
While Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) suffered wheel spin at the drop of the green flag and fell from second to fourth, he carefully navigated the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course to cross the finish line third and collect his third podium of the 2019 season.
Qualifying for the second act of the doubleheader weekend begins Saturday at 10:10 a.m. ET. The green flag waves at 1:30 p.m. and can be seen on NBC Sports Gold.
Lindh collects maiden win in Indy Pro 2000
Pole sitter Rasmus Lindh led flag-to-flag to score an impressive first career victory in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
The 17-year-old Swede, piloting the No. 10 Juncos Racing entry, was unchallenged en route to leading all 25 laps and crossed the finish line ahead of runner-up Kyle Kirkwood (No. 28 RP Motorsports Racing) by 0.8797 of a second.
“To get my first win and do it here at Indy, I’m especially happy,” Lindh said.
And now that the glass ceiling of getting the first win has been shattered, the Lindh is already hungry for more.
“I feel very confident with the team,” Lindh added. “They do an awesome job. I’m very happy and very confident. I think we’ll be able to get even more wins this year and fight for the championship.”
The margin of victory was significantly deceptive considering Kirkwood was set to start the race in second place, but he was penalized for jumping the initial start and was forced to the back of the 14-car grid. Even still, the 20-year-old Floridian and 2018 USF2000 champion set the fastest lap of the race and managed to march his way to a respectable result, comfortably ahead of third-place finisher Daniel Frost (No. 68 Exclusive Autosport).
Lindh kept the unrelenting pace in qualifying of the second race and will lead the field to the green flag at 10:10 a.m. ET and will be live streamed on racecontrol.indycar.com.
Eves keeps momentum rolling in USF2000
Braden Eves continued his winning ways in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship with thrilling late race heroics to capture the opening race win.
The 20-year-old Ohio native started the 15-lap race from pole in the No. 8 Cape Motorsports Tatuus USF-17. He led for much of the early going despite the lurking shadow of Hunter McElrea (No. 22 Pabst Racing), who eventually took the top spot on Lap 8.
Despite losing the lead, Eves stayed persistent to reclaim the lead and did so heading to the final lap. Upon taking the white flag, the two battled side-by-side until Eves pulled ahead in the last few corners to claim his third victory of the season by 0.2998 of a second over rival McElrea.
“Oh my gosh! This is definitely the most special victory I’ve had,” Eves said. “I swept at St. Pete, but that was the most insane race. I led early on, Hunter got by me and we had a really good battle at the end and I just came on top by just a little bit. Wow!”
Manuel Sulaiman (No. 12 DEForce Racing) quietly charged up the grid from eighth position to claim the third and final spot on the podium.
Eves also captured the pole for the second race, which is set to begin at 9:15 a.m. ET on Saturday and will be live streamed on racecontrol.indycar.com.