Indy Pro 2000 driver Phillippe Denes took a controlling win in the first Road to Indy iRacing eSeries race at Barber Motorsports Park.
The 21-year-old is due to race for RP Motorsport this year, but is still searching for the budget to compete once the Road to Indy kicks off again at Road America in June. The eSeries is taking place as a substitute for real racing until then.
Previous generation IP2000 cars were used for the race, and Turn 3 Motorsport team boss Peter Dempsey marked his Road to Indy racing return by beating Denes to pole.
They battled for the lead at the start, until lap four of the 45-minute race when Pabst Racing?s Barrichello passed Denes for second place. A few laps later, Denes was able to work his way back past.
From there, Denes held second with Barrichello close behind as Dempsey opened up a gap at the front.
That was until Dempsey came to lap Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) at a very fast point of the circuit. Dempsey was forced wide and damaged his car, prompting repairs that dropped him off the lead lap.
Denes now led Barrichello, and he was practically gifted victory when (to the surprise of race officials) the pair pitted. It turned out the entire grid had been significantly under-fuelled, and Barrichello made a messy entry to his pit box that cost him 10 seconds in total.
Barrichello dropped to fourth behind Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport) and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series regular Andre Castro (Legacy Autosport). Eves had started in seventh, but spent most of the race tussling with Castro until the penultimate lap.
As Eves cut across to defend his line he made contact with Castro, which pitched the latter into the wall. The resultant damage dropped him several places, and brought Barrichello back onto the podium in third.
Denes met the chequered flag with a 14 second advantage over Eves and Barrichello, with a further 20 seconds to fourth placed Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports).
From 23rd on the grid, Gold had been helped by crashes ahead at the start and had got up to 10th within two laps. He’d moved up another four spots by the time of Dempsey’s misfortune, then prevailed in a lengthy scrap with Colin Kaminsky (Pabst) to claim fifth.
That became fourth when Castro got damage, and he ended up pipping Dempsey as the last driver on the lead lap in sixth.
Flinn Lazier ? driving for his family?s Indy Lights-interested Lazier Racing outfit ? came eighth, ahead of Cameron Shields (Legacy), Kory Enders (DEForce Racing) and FIA Formula 3 Championship racer Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Autosport).
Juncos Racing team principal Ricardo Juncos was a thrice-lapped 16th on his racing return; he was a Argentian Formula Renault 2.0 in the 1990s before focusing on team management.