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Gold fends off McElrea to win Indy Pro 2000 New Jersey opener

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography / Road to Indy

Reece Gold resisted late pressure from Hunter McElrea to take his maiden Indy Pro 2000 win in race one at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

This was Juncos Racing’s second victory of the year after the one achieved by Manuel Sulaiman at Road America.

This first place helped Gold to strengthen his third place in the standings.

The Juncos Racing driver, who started the race from pole, held on to the lead after the green flag despite a big lock-up going into Turn 1, and was soon able to open a gap of over two seconds with the rest of the field.

Behind Gold, Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea and Jay Howard Driver Development’s Christian Rasmussen also stayed in second and third respectively, in what was a very clean start.

Position changes happened a bit further down in the order with Jack William Miller and Jacob Abel moving up to fourth and fifth respectively.

Overtaking proved to be a very difficult task, as it took Artem Petrov six laps to pass Kyffin Simpson for ninth place despite having much better pace.

In fact, the Exclusive Autosport driver quickly closed the gap that separated him from eighth place, after he pulled off a brilliant move on Simpson around the outside of Turn 1.

In the meantime, McElrea reduced the gap to race leader Gold to under one second, but it wasn’t enough to attempt a pass for the race lead.

Championship leader Rasmussen crossed the line in third despite losing ground in the closing stages of the race, which led to him finishing just over one second ahead of Miller.

Abel completed the top five, with James Roe, Braden Eves, Wyatt Brichacek, Petrov and Simpson rounding out the 10-car field.

Race results (25 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Reece Gold Juncos Racing 31m27.6269s
2 Hunter McElrea Pabst Racing +0.9234s
3 Christian Rasmussen Jay Howard Driver Development +8.6141s
4 Jack William Miller Miller Vinatieri Motorsports +9.8989s
5 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports +15.9914s
6 James Roe Turn 3 Motorsport +23.4725s
7 Braden Eves Exclusive Autosport +23.6968s
8 Wyatt Brichacek Jay Howard Driver Development +24.4753s
9 Artem Petrov Exclusive Autosport +24.8876s
10 Kyffin Simpson Juncos Racing +30.3919s
Fastest lap: Gold, 1m14.4980s

Championship standings
Rasmussen 367   2 Eves 327   3 Gold 307   4 McElrea 289   5 Petrov 276   6 Abel 227   7 Manuel Sulaiman 214   8 Simpson 203   9 Roe 172   10 Briachacek 157