ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Ryan Norman put in a stout performance Saturday to win a frantic opening race for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires at Road America.
Piloting the No. 48 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15, the 21-year-old Ohio native started alongside pole sitter Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Juncos Racing) on the front row, which came under attack after a wild start.
Toby Sowery (No. 2 Team Pelfrey) got the jump on the field from eighth, creating a chain reaction as Robert Megennis (No. 27 Andretti Autosport) started fourth and made it three wide with the leaders entering Turn 1.
VeeKay went off course and came back on track, throwing an aggressive block on Megennis in the process that resulted in a drive-through penalty that took VeeKay out of contention. Megennis led briefly ahead of Norman until Aaron Telitz (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing) got the better of both with a thrilling pass in Turn 5 on Lap 2 of 20.
It was short-lived for Telitz, as Norman found a way back to the lead on the next lap. Norman then led the final 18 laps to collect his second career Indy Lights victory and first this season by 4.6912 over teammate Megennis, with Telitz placing third in his second start of 2019.
“We had a rough start to the beginning of the year,” said Norman. “My driving fell off a little bit and I wasn’t on it as much. Using the Freedom (100 in May) as momentum coming here, I knew I was fast here, I knew I belonged up front. It was just a little bit of soul searching, but here we are again.”
The result was also satisfying for Telitz, who hails from Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
“I think we went a little aggressive because we knew starting sixth, we were going to have to get to the front quick,” Telitz said. “Crazy start. We got a good start, others not so much. … Great battles out there with Rob and Toby, Ryan as well. But Ryan was just on it today, he had a great day.”
Points leader Oliver Askew (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) had a quiet afternoon to finish fifth.
The nightcap of the doubleheader for Indy Lights begins at 9:50 a.m. ET Sunday and streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.
Kirkwood takes first Indy Pro 2000 win
Kyle Kirkwood made a clean getaway on a late race restart with five laps to go and went on to capture his first victory in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires, in the opening race of the Road America weekend.
The reigning Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship champion started third in the No. 28 RP Motorsport Racing Tatuus PM-18 but managed to take the lead from pole sitter Parker Thompson (No. 8 Abel Motorsports) on a restart on Lap 3. He led the rest of the way and won by 4.7096 seconds.
“We’ve got a lot of races coming up quickly, and if we can keep this momentum up without any breaks, I’m going to be in a good position, in a good mindset, for the rest of the year,” Kirkwood said.
“It’s really good to get this win under our belts just to create a better atmosphere within the team for the coming races.
Ian Rodriguez, making only his second race weekend of the 2019 season, squeezed by Thompson on the restart to give RP Motorsport a 1-2 finish.
Rasmus Lindh will lead the field to green for the second race of the Indy Pro 2000 doubleheader at 11:05 a.m. ET Sunday.
McElrea takes maiden USF2000 victory
Hunter McElrea put in a commanding performance to score his first victory in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, winning the first race of the doubleheader weekend at Road America.
Starting third, the driver of the No. 22 Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-17 took the lead on Lap 3 from pole sitter and teammate Colin Kaminsky (No. 23 Pabst Racing). McElrea gapped the field and scored a 3.5352-second margin of victory.
“The biggest thing I can say is it’s a weight off my shoulders,” said McElrea, who also claimed pole in qualifying for Sunday’s second USF2000 race earlier Saturday. “I knew I could do it. I knew I had the team to do it and the people to do it. It was just a matter of time.
“Today was amazing – first pole, first win. I think this is the start of momentum for the rest of the year. I’m speechless.”
Kaminsky came across the finish line in second to capture his best finish of the season, with Cameron Shields (No. 73 Newman Wachs Racing) grabbing the final spot on the podium in third. Championship leader Braden Eves (No. 8 Cape Motorsports) ended up fourth.
The final race for USF2000 will start at 9 a.m. ET Sunday.