Hunter McElrea bounced back in the best possible way after a tough couple of rounds with victory in the latest Indy Pro 2000 race at Mid-Ohio.
The Kiwi IndyCar hopeful blitzed the field with an imperious drive from pole position.
The win is his second this season and is his first on track after he was promoted to victory lane when another driver was penalised at Barber Motorsport Park.
For McElrea, the win was the perfect way to ignite his fightback in the championship.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” McElrea said. “It’s been a wild year so to put it on pole and control the race was great.”
At the start, McElrea fended off front row starter Artem Petrov on the run into turn one.
Petrov then slipped into the clutches of Kyffin Simpson, allowing McElrea to run away.
Once establishing a healthy advantage, the margin plateaued and McElrea finished 0.7s up on Petrov.
“It was about controlling the gap the whole time. I knew I was fast, and I just drove as fast as I could to stay out front.
“It’s such a relief. I knew I could do it. I knew the team could do it, but so many things that have been out of our control have hurt us this season.
“But it’s not about the setbacks, it’s about how you come back from them. And this is how you come back.”
In the weekend’s earlier Indy Pro 2000, McElrea finished fourth.
The solid points tally over the weekend means McElrea is fifth in the championship with three rounds remaining.
The next round sees the Indy Pro 2000 grid go oval racing at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois on August 21.
Billy Frazer and Peter Vodanovich enjoyed the best weekend of their rookie USF2000 seasons.
Frazer finished fourth, seventh and 15th in the three races.
Vodanovich had a 15th and DNF in the first two races but came alive in the final race to finish eighth, his first top ten this year.
Championship-wise, Frazer is 12th and Vodanovich is 19th in the driver’s standings.
The USF2000 goes into a six-week break before its penultimate round at New Jersey Motorsport Park on August 28-29.