Kyle Kirkwood became the first driver to wear the Road to Indy’s “Triple Crown” on Sunday by clinching the 2021 Indy Lights championship at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Kirkwood, 22, is the only driver in history to win titles in all three rungs of the Road to Indy development ladder leading to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES – Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Florida native Kirkwood pulled off the feat in three consecutive seasons over four years. He won the USF2000 title in 2018 for Cape Motorsports, the Indy Pro 2000 crown in 2019 for RP Motorsport and Indy Lights this season for Andretti Autosport. Indy Lights didn’t compete in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The impressive march through the Road to Indy ended with a tough fight all season for the title for Kirkwood. He beat runner-up David Malukas of HMD Motorsports. 537-524, in the final standings.
Kirkwood’s title prize includes a scholarship valued at more than $1.3 million to ensure entry into at least three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in 2022, including the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“To bring it home today and get this scholarship, it’s such a big relief,” Kirkwood said. “It’s been such a stressful season, especially at the end. We really had to push to beat HMD, they’ve been knocking on our door all season long. To get the win yesterday was crucial, and to survive today was crucial, though I have to say today was even harder than yesterday.
“But this is insane – I can’t thank everyone enough: Cape Motorsports, RP Motorsports, Andretti Autosport. It’s been an incredible four years. I’ve learned so much this year from the Andretti team. They’ve really taught me so much and I can’t thank them enough. And huge thanks especially to my entire 28 crew, they’ve worked so hard.”
Kirkwood clinched the title with a victory Saturday – his 10th of the season, tying the series record set by Greg Moore in 1995 – and a fifth-place finish Sunday in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport entry. Linus Lundqvist of Sweden won the second race of the doubleheader in the No. 26 Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports entry.
In the other two rungs of the Road to Indy ladder, Christian Rasmussen of Denmark clinched the Indy Pro 2000 title with a victory and a third-place finish in the two races at Mid-Ohio. Rasmussen, who drives the No. 1 Jay Howard Driver Development entry, won the title by a 445-407 margin over runner-up Braden Eves.
Rasmussen earned a scholarship package valued at $723,065 to advance to Indy Lights in 2022.
Kiko Porto of Brazil finished third Saturday in the No. 12 DEForce Racing to clinch the USF2000 championship with one race to spare. Porto ended the season Sunday with a 412-365 margin over series runner-up Michael d’Orlando.
Porto earned a scholarship package valued at $406,305 to advance to Indy Pro 2000 in 2022.
Many of the drivers who competed in all three series this season will participate in the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test on Oct. 29-31 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, especially the USF2000 and Indy Pro drivers looking to climb to the next rung of the developmental ladder in 2022.