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Kirkwood quickest in free practice thriller in Detroit for Indy Lights

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography / Road to Indy

Indy Lights announced its return to the streets of Detroit with an entertaining free practice session that had a new driver at the top of the times almost every lap.

The session was split into two, with Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood setting a pace of 1m27.3547s to be fastest by over half a second before red flags were waved when HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas struck a wall, broke his suspension and had to stop on track.

Once action resumed it was flatout, with over 10 changes to who occupied first place in the final 17 minutes.

Juncos Racing’s Toby Sowery was first to bypass Kirkwood’s pre-red flag best, setting a 1m26.9876s. Kirkwood responded half a minute later, but he was followed across the timing beam by Carlin with Jay Howard Driver Development’s Alex Peroni who went even faster.

It took a few minutes before Kirkwood’s next response, and it didn’t keep him ahead for long as Sowery snatched back first place with a first sub-1m26s lap. Kirkwood didn’t leave it there though, knocking four tenths off Sowery’s landmark to be the fastest driver going into the final 10 minutes.

Kirkwood then went faster again, breaking into the 1m24s as fuel loads got lower and drivers built up experience of a track last used by the series in 2012. That lap was good enough to keep the American ahead for over five minutes before team-mate Robert Megennis went fastest. He had failed to set a lap before the red flag, so was running a heavier car than his rivals.

Just a few seconds later he was bettered by Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports’ Linus Lundqvist, then he was outdone by Peroni by over a third of a second after the top six had briefly been spread by just two tenths.

That stood as the time to beat until with 11 seconds to go Danial Frost finally rose above second place to set a 1m24.3030s. The matter of who was fastest then looked to have been settled once the chequered flag was out, but Kirkwood left it as late as possible to post a 1m24.2423s lap that trumped his Andretti team-mate by a tiny 0.0607s.

Free practice results

Pos Name Team Time Gap Laps
1 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1m24.2423s 20
2 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1m24.3030s +0.0607s 19
3 Alex Peroni Carlin w/ JHDD 1m24.5455s +0.3032s 19
4 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1m24.7063s +0.4640s 18
5 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/ HMD 1m24.7407s +0.4984s 20
6 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1m24.9287s +0.6864s 15
7 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1m24.9587s +0.7164s 20
8 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/ HMD 1m25.2995s +1.0572s 20
9 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1m25.7525s +1.5102s 19
10 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1m26.1054s +1.8631s 17
11 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1m26.1847s +1.9424s 16
12 Christian Bogle Carlin w/ JHDD 1m26.2986s +2.0563s 19
13 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1m29.0383s +4.7960s 4