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Brabham sets benchmark in Indy Lights practice

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: Penske Entertainment / Joe Skibinski

Matthew Brabham topped the times with a late flying lap in Indy Lights free practice on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

The Andretti Autosport driver spent most of the session at the tail end of the top 10, but a flying lap in the final minute allowed him to jump up the times and take first place. His 1m16.598s time was 0.0234 seconds quicker than the previous benchmark set by team-mate Hunter McElrea.

McElrea was one of the consistent frontrunners, swapping fastest laps with championship leader Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen.

Lundqvist was the first driver to set a sub-1m17s lap in the final 10 minutes of the session, and his time was immediately beat by HMD Motorsports team-mate Daniel Frost.

Pedersen and McElrea then both took turns at the top of the order before Brabham’s final flyer. McElrea would have to settle for second, ahead of Pedersen and Frost.

Laptimes tumbled in the closing stages of practice, and Lundqvist was shuffled down to seventh below Sting Ray Robb and Christian Rasmussen.

It was a relatively trouble-free session for most of the field. A number of drivers, including Christian Bogle, suffered lock-ups and were forced onto access roads, but none caused any lasting damage.

Antonio Serravalle, who makes the switch from Abel Motorsports to HMD this weekend, was eighth fastest ahead of former team-mate Jacob Abel and Bogle. His Abel replacement Ryan Phinny was 2.4s off the pace in his first competitive Indy Lights appearance since 2014.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1m16.5986s 23
2 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1m16.6220s +0.0234s 24
3 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/ HMD 1m16.7088s +0.1102s 21
4 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 1m16.7796s +0.1810s 20
5 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1m16.8722s +0.2736s 23
6 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1m16.9306s +0.3320s 22
7 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports 1m16.9606s +0.3620s 23
8 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports 1m17.0547s +0.4561s 23
9 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1m17.1468s +0.5842s 19
10 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 1m17.3686s +0.7700s 20
11 Ernie Francis Jr Force Indy 1m17.5601s +0.9615s 20
12 James Roe Jr TJ Speed 1m17.8286s +1.2300s 16
13 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed 1m18.1095s +1.5109s 20
14 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 1m19.0720s +2.4734s 26