Home Road to IndyIndy Lights Kirkwood takes crucial Indy Lights pole ahead of title rival Malukas

Kirkwood takes crucial Indy Lights pole ahead of title rival Malukas

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography / Road to Indy

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood waited to pounce to secure the first Indy Lights pole of the title-deciding weekend at Mid-Ohio.

Kirkwood started qualifying with a 15-point championship lead and waited in the pits for the first 15 minutes of the 40-minute session before taking to the circuit.

In that time, there was a short red flag for Carlin with Jay Howard Driver Development’s Christian Bogle, who had spun and stalled.

When Kirkwood took to the track, he shot up the order pretty swiftly and, before switching to his second set of tyres, held a half-second advantage over the rest of the field.

His rivals then got their tyres up to temperature sooner on the second runs. This included HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas, Kirkwood’s title rival, who had sat in seventh after the first runs.

It was Malukas who gave Kirkwood the most pressure, lowering the benchmark, but Kirkwood was able to come out on top by three tenths of a second to take the bonus point for pole and the top spot for the start of Saturday’s afternoon’s race, in which he can effectively clinch the title in.

Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Sting Ray Robb was having his best run in Indy Lights so far, but the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion spun out of the first turn and came to a halt, bringing out a red flag and a premature conclusion to proceedings.

He was sat in third at the time, but lost his best lap as a result and dropped to seventh in the order. That leaves an all-Andretti row two, with Danial Frost ahead of Robert Megennis.

Global Racing Group with HMD’s Benjamin Pedersen rounded out the top five, ahead of Andretti Steinbrenner’s Devlin DeFrancesco.

Behind Robb was HMD’s Manuel Sulaiman, Juncos’s Rasmus Lindh and GRG’s Linus Lundqvist – some way down the order from where he has been earlier in the season.

Bogle went on to end up 11th fastest, ahead of the returning Pserra Racing entry of Antonio Serravalle.

Qualifying results

Pos Name Team Time Gap Laps
1 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1m11.2100s 17
2 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1m11.5255s +0.3155s 22
3 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1m11.6681s +0.4581s 22
4 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1m11.7619s +0.5519s 23
5 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/ HMD 1m11.8753s +0.6653s 22
6 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1m11.8919s +0.6819s 22
7 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Hollinger Racing 1m11.9960s +0.7860s 14
8 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 1m12.2867s +1.0767s 20
9 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Hollinger Racing 1m12.3260s +1.1160s 15
10 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/ HMD 1m13.0950s +1.8850s 10
11 Christian Bogle Carlin w/ JHDD 1m13.1319s +1.9219s 24
12 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1m13.6903s +2.0507s 19